Our modern church is full of pampered, partially committed Christians who are more like the world than Jesus. The list of things that differ from sinners and us is shrinking daily, and too many churches look more like a gym or disco than a place to worship God. The Gospel has been watered down so much that anyone can attend many churches and never feel the need to change. The Christian lives we lead are so close to the world that no one would ever be bothered or offended by our Christianity or our stance on sin because we have no stance. We preach a Gospel that everyone sins and even with Jesus in our hearts we can never rise above living in sin. We look like the world, act like the world, and the brand of Christianity so many people possess and profess would never bring persecution if they lived where Christians are persecuted.
There is a church in New York City that has been getting a lot of attention. It draws big crowds and celebrities rave about how wonderful and accepting the church is. Justin Bieber is one such celebrity who attends there and seems to be comfortable the way he is. A gay couple who is on the show Survivor both have ministry positions in the same church. Does that sound like the kind of church that truly preaches the Gospel? Don't get me wrong. Gay people and punk wanna-bes like Justin Bieber should be welcomed at any church, but no sinner should feel comfortable at a church and attend there for a very long time without feeling the need to change and truly live for Jesus. They should feel discomfort in the presence of Christians worshiping God.
I don't attend a perfect church. There are things I would change if it were up to me, and we tend to be as pampered as other churches, wanting our stuff, our expensive Starbucks coffees, our expensive Smart phones. We dress more conservatively than most churches and I fear we have too much focus on the outward sometimes.... but yet I believe that is one place the church is slipping today. I am not saying we need to look like the Amish, for one can be covered head to toe and possess not one ounce of Christianity, but if we look like a gang member or prostitute, if we show more skin than a swim wear model, if we feast on everything the world throws at us in the areas of entertainment, music, clothing, and other fads.... if we are more Americanized than Christianized....how close are we to being what God wants?
We so easily brush aside things in the Bible that are inconvenient and declare them for certain people at that time, ignore them completely, or wiggle around them. We say things like "We are not under law, but under grace", and give off the idea that rules are bad and we don't have to keep any under grace.
There is so little talk and action of denying ourselves today. The cross has become a pretty piece of jewelry that is worn around the necks of everyone, even gang members and pornography actors. Too many people wear a cross around their neck and have never picked up their cross to carry and live as Jesus commands. We don't want to deny ourselves anything, and want to carry a cross so light that it won't inconvenience us in any way.
The Christian gay movement is one blatant example of this. It isn't easy dealing with same sex attractions. It isn't easy wishing for someone to love, but to have what seems so natural be so wrong and sinful. And with the legalization of same-sex marriage and the constant barrage of pro-gay stuff being thrown at us, it is getting more and more difficult for we who deal with that to stay true to God. Many do not. There are a lot of men and women who are attracted to the same sex who twist Scripture to make it OK with God as long as it is a loving relationship. Many decide that since God won't take the gay away, that God is OK with it, and they profess to be Christians while living a gay lifestyle. They want the benefits of being a Christian while doing what God's Word says is a sin and an abomination.
There are still many Christians who would recoil and rebuff the idea of someone engaging in sex with the same gender and being a Christian....yet many of us do the same thing. We rationalize and twist Scriptures to our advantage. We do things a Christian should not, but excuse it and decide on our own that the Bible really doesn't mean THAT. God surely wouldn't have a problem with us doing that for after all, it is the year 2015.
There was a story that stirred me a lot in the mentioned devotional. A Christian man had been captured and was being beaten to get him to deny Jesus. In spite of the painful and torturous beating, he refused. So his captors brought in the man's 15 year old son and began to beat the boy. Not able to stand seeing his son cruelly beaten, the man said he would recant his Christianity. The boy shouted out not to do so, and said he did not want a coward for a father, so the father held steady and watched as his son was beaten to death.
Could you do that? Could I do that? I have no kids of my own, but have 3 nephews and 3 nieces I love dearly. Could I stand there and watch one of them being beaten to death, knowing I could stop it if I denied Jesus? After all, if the Calvinists are correct, I would still be a Christian anyway........
If we cannot deny ourselves and truly live for Jesus the life he demands of us, if we continue to indulge on what the world offer us and don't dive headfirst into what God offers, if we cannot fully embrace and obey God's commands, if we cannot sacrifice our sexuality and our desires to God.... then how on earth will we stand to true persecution when it comes our way? It will take truly knowing God and having a relationship with Him to stand up in the face of persecution. Can the people who attend the Hillsong church stand up to that? Can I?
I saw a quote recently that said what we call radical today was just a way of life for early Christians. They had what it took to stand the test, to face the lions, to burn at the stake. Their Christianity cost them something. And if we truly live for God, ours will. We won't be popular with the world. We won't be celebrities that masses follow after and worship.
I am n prophet, but I have felt for some time now that the gay agenda would bring about persecution of Christians in this country, and now that gay marriage has been legalized I am more sure of it. There have been people fired from their jobs for daring to say gay marriage is wrong. People have been sued for refusing to perform certain services for gay weddings. A volunteer minister was let go recently for refusing to sign a paper saying that when he works with juveniles that he would promise to never say homosexuality is wrong or sinful. This stuff may seem small and some refuse to call it persecution, but it is a beginning. As more and more of the church goes along with immorality and sin, the Christians who will not will stick out more and be ridiculed more and efforts will be increased to shut us up and I do believe it will bring on more persecution as our country becomes more and more godless and drifts further away from what this country was founded on and founded for.
Jesus said not to marvel when the world hate us, for it hated Him. If we are truly like Jesus, we won't make people comfortable or happy. They crucified Him, and if we live for Him as we should, that could happen to us some day. I am not saying we have to wear coarse robes and live in a monastery, but it is past time for us to make God our #1 priority and make our life and desires fit into His plan and His Word, instead of fitting Him and His Word into our lives.