Sunday, January 07, 2007

Fix-It Christianity


What would you think if one Sunday morning as you sat in your pew the Pastor got up to speak and his introduction went something like this:

“Today I begin a series on having a successful marriage that glorifies God. This series will last five minutes and it will guarantee that your marriage will be approved in God’s sight”.

Now as you hear these words the five minute part caught your attention. What possibly could he teach in five minutes concerning the complexity of marriage? There are so many subjects to dissect such as personalities, conflicts, sex, in-laws, money, and a host of other things that need to be micromanaged in order to have a successful marriage. The Pastor continues:

“Alright, here it is. You can have a successful marriage that glorifies God if the husband and wife individually make it their personal life long priority to seek the Lord Jesus with all their hearts and walk in His will regardless of what the other spouse does.”

What? What did he just say? That’s it? What about my insensitive husband? What about my nagging wife? I mean come on, I came here to get my marriage fixed and this guy doesn’t even address my problems. I want my marital problems fixed! The Pastor continues:

“Now this Spiritual journey will begin with the cross. Now I know most of you have believed on Jesus as you Lord and Savior, and I understand that you know that Jesus died on the cross for our sins. But this personal journey of faith will begin at the cross of Calvary with you nailed to it, not just your sins. You must suffer and die.”

Oh come on, we all know that we are alive, what is he talking about? I wouldn’t mind if my spouse died, but why is he suggesting that I die, most of the problems are my spouse's fault anyway. The Pastor continues:

“This is the first step, the beginning through which all other Spiritual progressions begin. If you will not die then you can not glorify God in your marriage even if you stay married for sixty years. You can tweak your marriage and resolve conflicts and better your physical intimacy but remember, the world does that also. The distinguishing feature of all Christian marriages must be that each spouse is engaged in the pursuit of knowing Christ, serving Christ, walking in love and obedience, and daily dying to themselves and allowing Christ to be their very life. This Spiritual pursuit will be defined by more than a five minute glance at Open Windows or Our Daily Bread, it will entail more than just praying over your meal, and it will include much suffering and self denial. If you are unwilling to embrace this journey I cannot help you and God will not be pleased regardless how many psychological and sociological principles you successfully incorporate into your relationship, and in the end they are just the works of man that happen to help the flesh. They can never, ever glorify God no matter how many comparative accolades man bestows upon them.”

I came here to learn about marriage and he continues to talk about Christ and learning about Him, doesn’t he have the cart before the horse? I’m so confused. The Pastor concludes:

“So in closing I am going to pray that the Holy Spirit will enlighten you, lead you to repentance, and that many of you will see the futility of the wisdom of man and that Jesus is all in all. And I am asking you to fast and pray throughout this week and next Sunday morning I will begin a discipleship group which will seek the Lord Jesus with all our hearts, be accountable to Him and each other, and we will trust the Lord in this journey to accomplish His will in all areas of our lives. Please don’t become a part of this group because you want your marriage fixed or even strengthened, just be led of the Holy Spirit that God wants to revolutionize your personal Spiritual life. See you next Sunday.”

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Now what would you think? The average evangelical church has one to three series’ during the year on how to have a successful marriage, or how to affair proof your marriage, or even how to increase your intimacy. And when was the last time you heard a six week series on eternal life? The Great White Throne judgment? Hell? The resurrection? The Lordship of Jesus? The cross? It seems we can find a mountain of facts and ideas about marriage, but the cross needs only some token references during the year because there certainly isn't enough there for a series. Many times the cross is only an appendage at the end of a shallow altar call designed to attract people who want God to solve their problems.

Where are the calls for total surrender to Christ and His cross and where are the calls for cross carrying discipleship? Do we not believe that if both partners in a marriage would individually seek the Lord with prayer and fasting and an aggressive consumption of God’s Word that their marital relationship would grow? Why does the personal walk with Jesus take a back seat to the ideas of man? Some marriages are fixed through some of the suggestions, but without Spiritual revival and a deep pursuit of our Savior it is sounding brass and tinkling cymbal disguised as success. By the way, examine the statistics and anyone with half a brain can see what we are doing isn’t providing the desired results because the results we desire are our own not God's. More series‘, more seminars, more valentine banquets, more retreats, more tapes, more date nights, and more and more of these things without calling for a massive repentance of everyone and a resolve to serve Christ individually without conditions.

We live in a fix it Christianity that spends the majority of its time on the pursuit of happiness in all we do. A marriage that lasts fifty years but without much happiness is considered a failure. But if that same marriage divorces at year fifteen, and each partner marries again and follows some “marriage help” principles and are happy, that second marriage is deemed a success even if the Spiritual lives of each spouse remains the same as in the first marriage. In God’s eyes both marriages are failures. God is not interested in creating happy marriages between two very marginally committed Christians, but we are. God is interested in creating new creatures in Christ who hunger and thirst after Him and in so doing they find contentment and love in each other which is the residual benefit of seeking Him. So we are at odds with God’s will in much of what we do in the church and in the end the Lord Jesus desires hearts that seek Him diligently, that is the cart and the horse.

Someone once said
“Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you”.
Oh yea, now I remember, Jesus said that.

4 comments:

Lynn Huston said...

Ohhhh, dear brother! -- "A*MEN!!"

THANK YOU for this superb address and the directing of our hearts into the truth about our lives before Christ and one another.

I had a strong response to what I read here. A very good critique of the popular but misguided thinking that is so often presented to us as truth. We have turned the gospel into a 3-step guide to personal happiness and success, and in so doing have robbed ourselves of the truest blessing.

The truth cuts through all the shallowness and really delivers, in so many ways.

God is so holy and so wise. Thank you for directing our hearts and minds to the truth, from His perspective.

Rebekah said...

Amen, amen, amen. If only we would take this to heart! I needed to hear this tonight so much. Thank you.

Mike Ratliff said...

Rick,

Thanks for this. Yes, I agree completely. When we live our lives as we should, submitted to the Lordship of Christ, we will be good husbands, good parents, good children, good workers and we will be at peace with God. Our relationships with others will changed.

I believe one of my writing instructors would call this a panacea. :-)

Baptist Girl said...

Hi Rick,
Excellent Post!
When Adam and Eve became one flesh, it meant mind and soul.
The relationship was to be not just physcial but a spiritual oneness that was found when both partners surrender to God and to each other.

I believe we need to surrender to God first and seek His counsil through His word and then each other and follow. I think as man and woman take on their God given roles. a marriage can grow and last, as God wants it to.

Cristina