3 Oct 2013 by Xavier Gomez-
Today, we have sugar substitutes, salt substitutes and aspirin substitutes. We can make vegetable oil look like butter, vinyl look like leather, glass look like wood. As Alfred Newan states, “We are living in a world today where lemonade is made from artificial flavors and furniture polish is made from real lemons. With such imitations and fabulous fakes, can you know what’s authentic anymore?"
The same can be said about Christianity. Does genuine Christianity mean wearing a Jesus T-shirt, humming the latest praise songs, attending sold out seminars, or chairing the Sunday school social committee? These are all good, but they can be acts that sit in as the real thing. The less Holy Spirit we have, the more curry puff and pau we need to keep the church going. Nothing against curry puff or pau, but there is no substitute for the Holy Spirit.
One key word stands out in 2 Corinthians 3:18; Christianity is transformation, becoming more like Jesus. Religion substitutes this process of transformation with deconstruction, becoming more like the system or "world" as the apostle Paul often defines it. The great imitation is so widely accepted as genuine Christianity that the real thing is often regarded as a threat or a heresy whenever it appears.
2 Cor 3:18
And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
What is biblical faith anyway? Is it like chewing gum, something to be stretched out to almost any length or is it like muscle that grows and becomes strong through use? There are many many definitions of faith out there that may make you ‘feel good’ and taken in for a ride. Faith does not make things easy, but it makes them possible (Luke 1:37).
For no word from God will ever fail
Faith is man’s positive response to divine revelation. Often, faith develops as it works against resistance. It is not a leap into the dark, but a leap into the light, the light of God’s word. Without God's word, you cannot exercise faith in God. Biblical faith is based on reflecting and believing in the integrity of God and his inherent nature, character and revelation. There is one art of which every man and woman should be a master of – the art of reflection.
Before you follow any individual, look for the oil on their forehead. Christian author and thinker, A. W. Tozer said, “You are under no 'spiritual' obligation to aid any person in any activity that has not upon it the marks of the cross.” At a time when the so-called 'seeker-friendly' model is being embraced without critique, I am reminded of David Wilkerson, author of the "Cross and the Switchblade", who made this remark before his passing, "One of the greatest dangers facing the Pentecostal movement is 'the Gospel of Accommodation.'"
Shifting Ideologies and Deconstruction
The only reason for being a Christian is the overpowering conviction that the Christian faith is true. In these times of postmodern relativity and shifting ideologies, it is pivotal to exercise faith and reason. How can we develop a sound biblical faith that maintains its authenticity amidst such contradictory worldviews and "situational doctrine"? It takes more than a busy church, a friendly church, or even an evangelical church to impact a community for Christ. It must be a church ablaze, led by leaders who are ablaze for God.
One fact is to remind ourselves that when we walk with Christ , the public will resent it, not support it. Second, when we react like Christ, the pressure will increase not decrease. Suffering separates the pure from the phony. As long as Christianity is comfortable, the church will be filled with false believers. ‘Market-driven spirituality’ and recycled heresies on hyper grace and accommodation infiltrate the church and threaten to deconstruct it from its mission.
Apply a dose of persecution and only the true followers of Christ will remain.
Here are THREE marks of true evangelism for personal evaluation:
First, is Christ central to your life?
Second, do you talk with him in prayer?
Third, do you talk to others about Him with others?
Does his will for you supersede your own? The most miserable person alive is not the sinner enjoying the pleasures of sin, but the child of God who is trying desperately to serve two masters.
Some journalists miss the point when they keep asking after each new church scandal, if a preacher’s fall has shaken the believer’s faith. Sin rather confirms than challenges a faith that proclaims human corruption. The drama of salvation is played out against the constant backdrop of original sin. For the Christian, the way to self-fulfillment is by the way of self-denial. This is one of the many paradoxes of the Christian walk and life.
Christian suffering has to do with the cross you and I take and heave on our backs. As John White states, “It is a suffering because of a deliberate choice. The kind of cross to which Christ refers in Luke 9:23 is not a cross of rheumatism or of the petty annoyances in life. It is the badge of a true follower of Jesus. It may take any form, sickness, loneliness, persecution or even death.” (John White, Magnificent Obsession, rev. ed (Downers Grove, Ill:Inter Varsity Press, 1990), 75.
In heaven, the questions will not be what gift did you manifest? How many sermons did you preach? What group did you belong to? But the question to ask is whether the glory of God is perfected and shown in and through his people. We need to ask the right questions now.
Agape is God’s purposeful selfless-giving and creative love to us. He loves us, not for our worth, but out of the abundance of his nature. The Christian must reflect this love to the world. We love others not because they are lovely, but because Christ’s love dwells in us. Let it shine, let it overflow; let us overcome the substitutes and fabulous fakes to gain a true faith in Christ.
[C.S. Lewis learned that if you speak about beauty, truth or goodness, and about God as a great spiritual force of some kind, people will remain friendly. But he found that the temperature drops when you discuss a God who gives definite commands, who does definite acts, who has definite ideas and character. Xavier is of the view that the reason there are so many substitutes for faith and prima donnas in the pulpit and ministry is that we have given the messenger more honor than the message.]
References for pictures: