“Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” I Corinthians 9:16
The above scripture reflects the heart of a man consumed or owned by the call of God that stems from the message and the reality of the gospel. The Apostle Paul’s divine unction reflects a normal mindset when it comes to what it really means to love the Lord and to be completely His. As we look at his life and the level of commitment that he ascribed to, one must be honest and say that much of what we see and even promote as Christianity and ministry today is in stark contrast to what Paul lived, preached and reproduced while fulfilling his call on earth. Therefore, the question must be asked; “Is there another gospel being promoted and propagated in this hour?” My immediate response to this is, “absolutely yes!”
In much of the industrialized world and especially in the West, there has been a dire phenomenon that has taken place over the last several decades with regard to the gospel of Jesus Christ and the state or condition of His church. It is as if a spiritual decapitation has occurred and the result has been the creation of ministry expressions and accomplishments that are void of the power and presence of God. A beheaded gospel (a social, utilitarian message void of the Cross) has been presented and promoted that has bequeathed a spell of dullness and compromise to fall upon many who name the name of Jesus. In many respects the modern church has become a hollow giant that presents itself as mighty, while in reality in many regards she is empty, emaciated and pitiful in comparison to the scriptural pattern and mandate so clearly seen in the New Testament.
Though it may be painful, the Church must look in the mirror of reality and ask some hard questions in light of the condition of our society and our lack of conviction and power to address it effectively. We must get honest before the “Holiness of the Lord” and allow Him to probe deeply into the core of our existence and exorcise anything within us that aligns us with a gospel that reflects a model of self-fulfillment, personal ministry success (idolatry), an alignment with the spirit of this world, and a message that calls people to social, religious reform void of true repentance and discipleship. The white elephant in the room (the midst of the modern church) has this question written on its side, “How is it that we have gained so much ground socially, politically and economically and still yet we by and large are not having a real impact on this generation?” Some honest answers follow.
- We have exchanged the gospel of the cross for a gospel of accommodation. (We have learned not to offend man while at the same time condoned grieving the heart of God). Ref. Matthew 10:37-39
- We have exchanged the anointing and unction for entertainment and the wisdom of this age. (We have learned to use talent, carnal knowledge and performance based ministry to entice individuals to become a part of our social, religious gatherings while neglecting the eternal condition of their souls). Ref. I Corinthians 1:18-25
- We have exchanged an eternal awareness or consciousness for the passing delicacies and allurements of this present age. (We invest in the things of this world that will eventually be consumed while neglecting the reality of eternity and the world to come). Ref. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
- We have exchanged prayer and fasting (which begets divine assistance) for furious religious activity. (We focus more on ministry mandates and activities then we do on God’s availability to us through intimacy with Him). Ref. James 5:16
- We have exchanged the fear of the Lord for the approval of men. (We concern ourselves more with what people say and think about us as believers then we do about what God has called us to be as His children). Ref. Psalm 111:10
- We have exchanged the burden of the Lord for a life of feel good experiences that oftentimes only breed more of the same. (Even though spiritual, feel good experiences are great, if the burden of the Lord’s heart is not real in the life of the church, we become self-fulfilling while neglecting the great commission). Ref. Jeremiah 4:19, 8:20, 9:1
Lastly, let me say that this is the hour for the Church to arise and shine. We must stir ourselves in such a way that our level of commitment is not just a seasonal or temporal emotional disturbance that leads us to make covenants that are only broken when the emotion of the moment flees. This is the time to allow Jesus to be the head of everything that we are and do. When this happens, He will become more than just our mascot that we use to further our religious, selfish causes. He will be our Lord and leader that directs us into a life of obedience that will bring glory to His name.
Visit Keith’s Blog Passionate Ponderings