Thursday, July 19, 2007

Which Way Will We Walk ?

“Your Turn” is a feature of the CBC National Evening News.
Last night they pulled a segment out of their archives called
“7 God’s Army” which consisted of an embedded reporter, Mark Kelley, spending 7 days in the US bible belt to examine what the army of God is battling and how they are attracting young people to their cause.

In Mark’s own words he is someone who goes to church for Christmas, weddings and funerals; in other words not someone you would call ‘churched’. Yet, I found him to be opened minded and fair in his reporting.

I was surprised by the dire prediction voiced by the church leaders he interviewed. They said that if the church did not change how it presented its message, in twenty years the church would be dead. They said that the evangelical church in the US would be made up of bible believers comprised of only 4% of the American people.

I agreed with Mark’s response. “If you think the world is bad now ….just wait!”

Mark visited 7 different churches, chapels, groups to be an inside observer of what was going on..
He went in being afraid that they “were out to change my world”.
He came out not being scared anymore. He concluded that God didn’t change his life and the church wasn’t going to change his world.

Watching through Mark’s eyes, I could not fault him for his conclusion. What he watched was a focus on doing church differently, of young leaders under the influence of pop culture feeding the members of their churches the hype and excitement they desired.

There was , however, one part of the report that will stay with me – one that touched my heart.

I believe it was on the second or third day that Mark visited the Orlando Holy Land Experience Theme Park. Walking in, he exclaimed with a smile that it looked like old Jerusalem!
He enjoyed the sights and sounds and spoke with the character actors, even Jesus.
That evening, he was invited to witness the daily re-enactment of the crucifixion .
He stood among a crowd of people who were watching the scene unfold.

His face changed and he stood …as he himself admitted... “transfixed”.
The crowd went silent ! except for the sobs he heard around him.
He had never seen anything like it, had never felt anything like what he was feeling in his heart, so much more than he would ever have expected.
He spoke of what he had felt, later as he was driving to his next venue. Even then his voice was unsteady with wonderment at the depth of emotion he had experienced.
Then, with relief in his voice he said, “ then someone’s cell phone rang and I snapped out of it!”

When he sat in the next church service and spoke with the leaders and people about their exuberant plans about how they were going to change the world with all the available technology and a culturally adjusted gospel, Mark commented, “this does not make me feel anything like what I felt at the Holy Land theme park.”

The reaction of Mark Kelley standing at the cross was for me the pivotal point of the documentary.

Does it not prove that all of man’s attempts to revolutionize the gospel, modernize it, make it palatable to the youth of our time is not what will ‘save the church’ -- much less the world?
No matter how hard the church endeavours to be like the world , at best they can only be a good imitation. Why would that impress the world when they already have the real thing?

None of the hype touched Mark’s heart --- but the simple, old fashioned gospel of the cross did. Had the message of the cross been consistently presented to him during the 7 days of his journey, would he have come away with the same declaration that he had nothing to fear from the evangelical church – they were not going to change his world?

Over and over throughout the pages of scripture…. God’s people wanted to be relevant with the culture around them. What happened? Did it bring them closer to God? Did it change the nations around them?
No, it had exactly the opposite effect. And brought upon them God’s judgment.
Why do we think we can be different today?

All through the ages, there has stood the old wooden cross that symbolizes the ageless message of God --- there is only ONE way, a NARROW door that leads to God ---- and that is through the One who died on that cross to save us from our sin - Jesus.
There is no other way!!

I wonder……. Is the church thinking that if they remove the ‘foolishness’ of the cross from their message that the world will find the gospel more attractive?
“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God!” (I Cor. 1:18)

Is what we are seeing increasingly more and more the fulfillment of the prophecy in II Tim. 3:1-5 ? …….”But know this that in the last days perilous times will come, for men will be lovers……… of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power!”

Are the people engaged in the new way of doing church….dispite the fact that they sincerely believe their efforts are building the kingdom of God….. simply missing it because they are "denying the power" which lies in the simplicity of the gospel message centering at the cross?

Paul , who penned much of the New Testament, declares he found nothing greater than the message of the cross…..

“But God forbid that I should glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ ……” (Gal. 6:14)

When God’s people are in trouble, God’s solution is not to ‘get with the times’ but rather to go back to the tried and true !!

“Thus says the Lord; Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it . Then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it’.” (Jer. 6:16)


Laura said...

My generation is so screwed! You are so right though! Our whole generation is getting so far away from all things biblical, and at the same time, there are so many fewer christians. I don't know that it will change either. Unfortunately, I think that is part of the whole end times plan. It will certainly be interesting to see it all unfold.

Lovella said...

Our message last weekend at church was so sad but true. The pastor spoke about how we are driving people away from desiring to know Christ. The numbers are just staggering on how unethical and how little we keep our promises.
He said that if we really believed the truth of the gospel, we would make a difference. It was so sobering. Churched people and supposed Christians are more often divorcing now than unchurched people. How terrible.

I hope the next generation can help to turn it all around again. It seems to me that many young people are not nearly afraid of the sharing of thier faith. It will be so interesting to see it unfold.

Thoughts on Life and Millinery. said...

Whew. It IS all about the work of the cross. I just read that in the current crop of high schoolers there are only 4% who identify themselves as Christians. I can only hope the survey didn't include home schoolers and Christians schools.
God's promises to be faithful to every generation, and each generation seems to have their own "revivial", my generation having the Jesus movement, my grandparents having the tent revivals and Azuza street.
I'm with Lovella, it will be interesting to see it unfold.