Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Foundations are Faulty

If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?
man builds a house. He lays the foundation, constructs the walls, and attaches a roof. Then he sets about to furnish the inside. Paint, trimming, and furniture complete his dream house. But not too long afterward the house begins to leak. Cracks begin to appear on the walls in almost every room. The ceiling begins to sag. In general, the entire structure begins to show signs of instability and erosion.
The man calls an expert to come and give him a diagnosis of just what the problem is. After an entire day the expert tells the man that the problem is with the foundation, and no amount of patch work will fix this problem. The entire house must be razed and the foundation laid once more. That alone will solve the problem. If the man does not do this, the expert assures him the problems will only get worse.
And so it is with the church, especially the western version of the Christian church. Our foundations are faulty, and through the affects of Constantine, and the Industrial Revolution, and the hedonistic culture, and men with perverse hearts and minds, the church has slowly but surely slipped its Biblical moorings and drifted into a religious system that is more closely related to the culture than it is to the teachings of Jesus.
But no amount of fix up will work. Shout about the Rob Bells and the Rick Warrens and the Joel Osteens all you want if that makes you feel better. But until we completely raze the ecclesiastical structure we have created and allow the Holy Spirit to lay again the foundations of our faith in both doctrine and practice, the cracks will continue to multiply. Until we allow God to open up our own blinded eyes we will continue to exist in a room full of cracks where the rain of this world floods in, but we soothe our own conscience by pointing out bigger cracks and more rain in the room that others inhabit.
The western church has fallen into a cultural and self serving ditch, and instead of praying and repenting our way out, we’ve built a church house in that very ditch. The ditch has become our spiritual home and we have incorporated the surroundings into our religious practices. And buoyed by our adroit display of heretic hunting, the little foxes have become embraced giants. And in the end, we no longer believe the Scriptures; we believe our own diluted and manipulated interpretations of them.
Let us imagine you took one hundred believers and asked them to sit and listen to God’s Word. And you read Matthew chapters 5, 6, and 7, the Sermon on the Mount, and then you asked those 100 believers if they actually believed the literal meaning of those words, most would say that they do. However, just a cursory investigation would reveal that what we believe is a watered down version of those words, a version that conforms to the culture and bows to the circumstances. To actually believe the Sermon on the Mount would require a drastic revolution within the church; one that would completely confront each individual believer and one that would necessitate a profound metamorphosis of the normal church structure and practice.
Can you really believe that when everything is placed upon the table for scrutiny that we would not step by step see a plethora of things about which God is not pleased and for which there are no Scriptural foundations? And after we begin to identify more and more beliefs and practices that are antithetical to the New Testament, would we not come to the conclusion that the entire spiritual edifice has been built largely upon what is reasonable and acceptable and traditional and cultural rather than what is Scripturally mandated? How can it be that the Spirit inhabited followers of Jesus Christ, living in a culture of hedonism, sex, and violence, blend in so nicely and are so accepted by the darkness at large? And the Sunday morning march of the lemmings are a mockery and an open rebuke to what we say we believe.
Day by day, month by month, and year by year things remain the same and yet the church laughs and smiles and pledges allegiance to the very cultural poison that has killed all the spiritual power she once had. The religious treadmill continues unabated which insures that no penetrating inventory will ever be taken. Inconvenience is avoided at all costs, and any hint of a spiritual mirror must be pointed away from us and at someone else. We have become assimilated and insulated. Content and satisfied. Open to revival if it costs us nothing.
Now I believe in the soon and eminent return of the Lord Jesus. But I also believe that there is always a window of opportunity for all of us. And if the church at large will not step through that window, the individual believer can and must. But to extricate ourselves from the chains of this world is not an easy proposition. And to see clearly where the axe head fell and where we need to repent is very difficult. When we stand in front of a mirror we cannot see ourselves with anything but our own eyes. Therefore our view is subjective and limited.
So in order for us to see our spiritual condition through the eyes of the Spirit, we need to deny our own perspectives and opinions and allow the Spirit to filet our hearts open before Him. It is no pleasant task and it is indeed a painful journey that sometimes leads to areas of the heart that we once considered settled law. If we are to be a living sacrifice, then we must present ourselves upon His altar to do with as He pleases. It is His good pleasure that we seek, and it is His will alone which must be our consistent desire.
Have we not as yet grown weary of this powerless exhibition of religion that belies its own confessions simply by the way it is practiced? Are we so blind and in such spiritual slumber that we cannot see, or refuse to even entertain, the notion that there is so much more that God wishes to do with and through us? Have the cares of this world so overtaken our hearts that we will not even admit we have fallen out of love with the Risen Christ? To what depths of hypocrisy are we willing to go? Without a blush of embarrassment we can still gather with the redundancy of a football crowd only to return to the unremarkable lives we left temporarily to fulfill a religious obligation. And this is supposed to be a replica of the Lord Jesus in all His glory?
Where is the life imprint of the cross about which we speak in such glib, doctrinal parlance? Why are we left alone in this culture, neither enduring persecution nor constant inquiries emanating directly from the conspicuousness of our lives? This is what portends to be a living manifestation of the resurrection power of Jesus the Christ? This is the paltry exhibition that blends in with other religions and whose so called power lies in its systematic theology with our lives seemingly quarantined from any tangible spiritual power.
But still there is no atmosphere of crisis, much less of desperation. Still we thank God for His blessings, material mostly, and greet the new week as we greeted the former. And we believe that this is the light of the world which will present the eternal Lord to the kingdom of darkness? In that we are both liars and self deceived. Read again the New Testament with a broken and contrite spirit and see if you can confess with a truthful heart that we have only minor adjustments to make.
And read again the passion of the Lamb of God. Spiritually ingest his sufferings, His groans, His agony, and place them upon your own personal soul. Understand once again what was paid for your eternal liberty; comprehend the length and breadth and depth of His redemptive love for you; open your heart once again to His sacrifice and humility and shame born for all to see for you. And if those truths do not burn away the dross and ignite your spirit, then you still do not understand. This is not the time to settle in, get comfortable, and watch the show.
This is the time to die to that God hating bully named self. Do not expect others to catch any vision the Spirit may give to you. If you need encouragement from others to continue this journey you will fail. But if you can look to Christ daily, and if you genuinely and sacrificially desire to be conformed to His image alone, then your path will be arduous and painful as well as glorious and majestic. And I will make you this promise without fear of contradiction:
If any of us seek Him with our whole hearts and allow the Spirit to use us for His glory, none of us will regret it on that day when we see Him as He is. Tear down the faulty foundations and rebuild the foundation of Jesus Christ. And upon that Rock, build a life of sacrifice, love, and worship.
Rev.3:18 - I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.


David said...

Well said Rick,
We need to love the Truth enough to allow the Spirit to convict, to prune and remove the dead, and bring forth new growth. When we allow anything to be valued as much as the Truth, contamination is certain.
Thank you for the challenge.

John Marsh said...

Wouldn't disconnecting our TV's and getting rid of all our Hollywood DVD's be a good start when building our foundation over again. Might as well sell all the toys and garbage we have collected to entertain us or take our minds off of the worlds problems.
Imagine all our energy going into reading the Word and prayer, leading us to evangelize the lost and to help the poor.
We would be like alcoholics on our first day at AA except we would be strengthened by the one true God and the indwelling of his Holy Spirit..
Deny ourselves, over come the world...are we willing to build our foundation over again the right way?
Praise Jesus whose strength we can depend on through the gift of faith.

Anonymous said...

When I first came to Christ all those things you speak of - the dvd's and garbage I'd collected - add to that many books and the cd's of a long-time rock and roller (myself)...I got rid of them. Not because I thought I should but because - I was repelled by them.
Happy to say...I still am - either repelled or just not interested.

Rick - fantastic article.
Rather convicting...
And that's a good thing.

When I first began attending an organized church I was confused. It was so different than I thought it would be. It was so different from what Jesus taught and what the apostles lived...I kept saying, "Are you sure this is how we're supposed to be doing this? Is this what Jesus tells us to do?"

I got a little caught up in it for awhile and then He opened my eyes and I saw it for what it was.
And you're right - the foundations are rotten.
You can paint and repair and even gut and remodel but if the foundation is rotten it's all for nothing.


Rick Frueh said...

Great comments everyone. John, your copmment about television and dvds is spot on. Perhaps nothing has sucked the life out of western believers as has television.

The time, the obsession, the hedonism, and the mind bending through television has been breathtaking. And of course the scandal that is "Christian" television.

Anonymous said...

Thank you! Spiritual weariness has set in with me. This is no doubt why. The church has wearied it's saints with it's new emphasis on their golden calves - politics, sports, gold, prosperity, taking the 7 mountains, disparaging those in power, taking on false prophetic mantles and declaring lies.

The world looks to all christians as hypocrites now. It's the "church" that is making itself a target for future persecution.

Anonymous said...

Great Article. I couldn't agree more about getting rid of TV. We stopped watching ours years ago but continued using carefully selected DVD's for our children. This was a mistake. Even 'so called' 'clean' movies are worldly and a distraction from the things of God. Our children haven't got used to the idea of living without entertainment. I think it's time to throw away the DVD's as well. Our mistake was in thinking that ridding our house of 'ungodly' books and TV and movies would help us to be more godly. This was only partly true. In order to persue godliness one needs to earnestly persue God through His word and prayer. May God help us all to live for Him and to present ourselved approved to Him.

Anonymous said...

Very good article. I and my family have been in this Institutional Church battle for 4 years now. I feel that most if not all of the Evangelical in North America need to simply STOP attending "The Building"!

Take a year away from "going to church" and seek Jesus Christ alone. I'm sure your perspective will change dramatically.

I agree with your statement 100% that if you need man's encouragement to do this your lost already. Wise words my friend.

Me and my family still attend a (small group) that is loosely affiliated with a mega church in my town. Its a constant struggle dealing with Institutional Christians and their deluded thinking. The traditions of men are incredibly difficult to tear down. Tradition was the very thing Jesus attacked and came up against most of the time. Again great read, SPOT ON MY FRIEND!