In 2017 I read and recommended The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. Bunyan wrote the book from prison because he refused to compromise his faith. This kind of witness is in short supply these days. I have used a number of illustrations from the book in sermons since; I am deeply troubled by how few pilgrims are in the world today.
I was reminded this morning of the time Christian and Hope had just taken leave of Ignorance. Christian says, “Indeed, the word saith, He hath blinded their eyes, lest they should see, etc. But now we are by ourselves, what do you think of such men? Have they at no time, think you, convictions of sin, and so consequently fear that their state is dangerous?”
In response, Christian answers his own question by saying people tend to stifle such convictions of sin, even though they be to their own good so they can pursue the things their own heart and eyes desire.
People today no longer work so hard to stifle their own conviction against sin in their lives either. They have outsourced their convictions to their churches, pastors, and elders who are more than happy to whitewash the walls of tombs. How I assume you ask, are churches, pastors, and elders giving Christians a free pass with regards to sin and the conviction to cease sinning?
Churches and the religious professionals running them have bought into a church growth model, where size and numbers equates to a being a good “church.” If more bodies come through the door and more bodies go to small groups and churches can build more wings, larger auditoriums, and expand the parking lots, then all signs point to health and success as a body of believers, no matter what those folks look like on the inside.
Here are the results:
- People are attending church related services/groups 3-4 times per month. They used to attend 3-4 times per week.
- There is almost no difference in appearance or behavior between the believer and the non-believer.
- The path most Christians walk, is well trod by non-believers and looks the exact same.
- We spend early childhood in daycare so both parents can work to pay off debt and buy more stuff
- We spend 12 years in our local public school where we are trained and indoctrinated in the best and most effective ways of being a heathen
- Then we are pushed to attend a secular college, earn a secular degree in a secular field of study, so we can get a secular job that pays a higher income
- We accumulate great debt for this future of bondage
- When we get a job in government or business with little lee way and opportunity to exercise one’s faith or freedom, we are told this is good and we are on our way to success, ie. we have made it
- Then we marry another person in the same boat, requiring both husband and wife work to pay off college debt, home and auto loans, and all the trinkets of civilized society, which starts the cycle over again for their children.
I have just described the America of today, yesterday, and tomorrow for almost everyone and it is bleak, dark, unforgiving, and leads to despair. Who wants to have the above life, let alone would mistake it for success? That is a treadmill of doom and I was on it once myself.
Now we begin to consider who is coming to worship and find God in our houses of worship. These are people stuck in that cycle of despair. The people coming to “church” are looking for better answers because their lives on the wide and flat super highway to doom are garbage and they want something more for themselves and their family. These folks need something because they know they are missing a significant ingredient to life.
They need Jesus and freedom, but this is not what they find.
Professional churches peddle easy beliefism to keep these poor, haggard, and worked to death souls slightly engaged with some form of Christian expression in their lives. Which by the way, does nothing for their haggard position and might even make them worse off, by convincing them what they have is as good as it gets.
Token beliefism is a band aid on a broken back and it does not heal or ease suffering.
The current trend of easy beliefism has led to:
- Giving being down because people tithe from what they have left after they pay all their bills, have some fun, buy their groceries, and maybe even save a little for “retirement.”
- Christians are told to use their place of employment (that same place mind you that is slowly killing them and that they need to pay their bills that also has them trapped in an endless debt cycle) as their mission field
- I keep waiting for revivals to come out of all these overworked believers treating their places of employment as their personal mission field… and waiting
- Seminaries and endless numbers of books, by all the finest professional theologians and large/mega church pastors, promote workplace evangelism as the cure to an empty life on the heathen treadmill, instead of telling people to get their feet off the devil’s route that kills and onto God’s righteous path
- Churches are saying, “it is OK to come when you feel like it or have the time. Do not bother making your Christian family a priority, you are too busy on the wide path.”
- Meanwhile, churches are closing at a higher rate of speed than new ones are opening
- And, people are flocking to larger and larger congregations that often lack accountability so they can check in when they want and no one notices when they are absent
- The music is exceptional and makes them feel good
- The nursery takes care of the kids so the parents can get temporarily charged and feel good
- There is a program or small group for whatever might scratch your itch, if there is an itch to scratch and a wee bit of time can be carved out for it
- All the right people in the community also attend this same church (for the same reasons)
- While pastors and new seminary grads want to pastor these churches or turn their current church into one and the same because then they do not have to be bi-vocational to survive because they will get paid enough to pay off their college/seminary debt also.
Believers, I implore you, the path to righteousness and eternal life is straight, long, and narrow, with very few foot prints on it. It is a long slog, but it is worth it. Jesus will walk with you each and every step on the straight and narrow, but He will be near impossible to find and locate on the devil’s route. The secular path is wide, well trod, and has all the bells and whistles to distract us from pursuing Jesus and having a faith that saves.
If we looked down at our feet and took the time to scan to our left and right, I bet we would notice the path we are on is well worn and popular, which should tell each and every one of us this is not the straight and narrow! It is time to reject that which was defeated 2,000 years ago and refuses to leave you alone.
If our Christian lives look, feel, and have the same results as those that do not believe Jesus is the Son of God and Messiah, then we are not on the narrow path and our lives will feel empty and our faith will be stagnant and unappealing.
There are 168 hours in a week. How many do you devote to the kingdom of God? 1-4 hours if you are honest. This is all the time most people have for God and his kingdom. I am 100% positive, Jesus did not come to the earth and die on the cross to claim 2% of your time! 4 hours/168 hours= 2%. Does that sound like being a Christian when your faith receives 2% of your time, energy, and attention?
Show me in the Bible anyone of faith whose life comprised of 2% for God and his kingdom.
I say again, we need to look at our lives, our spouses, our children, and our God, but not in that order. None of these are better off when Christians look, act, and think like heathens. Let the heathens rage against the machine they are trapped inside of. Jesus freed us from it and gave us a mission to reach others and release them from bondage.
Why have we willingly put the shackles on again?
We are not being the Kingdom Men and Women we are called to be when God and our faith receive 2% of our time and the world receives 98%. Does that sound like a faith anyone would be interested in having? Do we need to wonder why churches are closing and baptisms are down?