Wednesday, February 22, 2012

You’ve Been Changed - But
Are You Being Changed?
The last fifty years has seen many changes in the way evangelicals practice and live out their faith. It is obvious that none of us are perfect or even completely surrendered to the Lord Jesus, but that can never be an excuse for a lack of passion and pursuit of holiness and a life poured out for His glory. But some of the changes have been instrumental in steering the church and the individual believer way off course. And today we are mired in a dangerous mixture of the flesh and the spirit, which in effect is actually only flesh.
When our vision becomes clouded with the accoutrements of this present world we ourselves become slaves to them. And what began as honest expressions of the Christian faith has now morphed into talent shows and a continuing curiosity about the faith with no tangible and observable change in behavior or commitment. Many evangelical services are well crafted performances that are designed to arouse emotions and create an air of excitement and entertainment. And at the end of such displays, the masses leave just as they came. When that happens you can be sure they have not met with the Risen Christ.
With the advent of electricity, radio, television, and commercial recordings things began to change significantly in the culture and in the church. Music became a paid ministry and many gospel singers made a good living from their recordings. And people by the millions were blessed by the music. But something very clandestine happened as well.
Music, gospel and worship music, replaced the Word and became the spiritual mainstay among evangelicals. And many singers and groups became the focus instead of Christ. It was not designed to happen that way, but it did. And now the music in the average evangelical service is the driving force and is given the most time and prominence. There is nothing wrong with worship music when it is accompanied by a bold and broken proclamation of God’s Word, but so often that is not the case.
And the same is true of Christian books. Concordanceses and maps and commentaries and translations and yes, blogs are legion. How many have we read and been “blessed”? But how many scores of Christian books have we read without being changed by the Spirit through them? It is not enough to read books just to be interesting. But Christian books by the millions are bought and consumed without any substantive change in people’s hearts and lives. But one thing does change. Many authors have become wealthy.
But with all the music and all the books why is there still so little change in the lives of evangelicals? Why is there no revival due to the mountain of books and Cds and music and videos? We as western believers are overflowing with information about the Bible and the gospel. But the question is not how much do you know, but how much have you changed? And so often we are satisfied with recalling the early years of our conversion and recounting how we were changed back then. But how have you been changed lately?
One of the most prominent signs of a backslidden church is contentment. Not contentment in Christ, but content in where we are spiritually.
Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing;”
What is wrong? Why is this church content? Look what God says in the following verse.
“…anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.”
The reason we are content with our present spiritual condition is that we are blind to the things of the Spirit. We cannot see ourselves as God does, and so we create a false assessment of ourselves and of the church at large. Our view of the Crucified and Risen Christ has been obscured by the things of this world. And in order to pacify the flesh we entertain ourselves through all kinds of Christian gimmicks. And we have taken good things like music and books and have made them hollow idols. The entire spectacle is a pitiful expression of Christ.
Our desire and our pursuit must be to allow the Spirit to change us. And if we are not being challenged and changed by the Spirit then we are walking according to the flesh. If any man basks in the glory of the Risen Christ he must be changed. This kind of Christianity that lives and breathes without sacrifice and without a consistent experience of crucifying the flesh is not Christian at all. It is a religion that has stolen the precious name of Christ and uses it for its own aggrandizement.
Being changed and conformed into His image is a painful, humbling, and glorious experience. The flesh will resist death using all the tactics at its disposal. It will attempt to convince us that we are normal and comparable to other believers. It will lie to us and suggest that we are not in need of any dramatic change. It will become religious in an attempt to pacify us. It will throw up our Bible knowledge to us and entice us to admire our Biblical acumen. It will remind us of how we have supported missions and how we have witnessed to the lost. All of this in a bold attempt to keep us from stepping into a deeper revelation of Christ and a deeper obedience to His Biblical voice.
I Jn.4:16-17 - And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.
17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.
o you not see it? Are your eyes still in need of salve? Has blindness so overtaken you that those words do not stir you to pursue that love made perfect? And how shall we minimize and dilute the phrase “as He is so are we in this world”? That challenge is not attained in a spiritual hammock. This is serious business and it requires much sacrifice and spiritual labor. Nothing is born of God without genuine travail.
Look fully into the face upon the cross. This is not some religious folklore or some Christian mythology. This is the way of life; this is the forgiveness of sin; this is the blood soaked Lamb; this is our banner, our faith, and our very life! The things of this world are our enemy, and they are closing in all around us. The desire of the enemy is to call our eyes to look away and gaze upon the lust of the eye and the lust of the flesh and the pride of life. But we must not just gently refuse; we must boldly and with conviction rebuke such temptations and look with love and faith to out Glorious Lord.
And while we look in worship and faith we are changed.

We abhor the flesh and all that is in this world. Change us, O Lord, into the image of Your Dear Son. We have no King but Jesus. We have no life but Yours. We are Your humble servants so speak Lord, Your servants are listening. We truly believe Your coming is nigh and the days are evil. But we need the power of Your Spirit to change us and use us for Your glory. And as the disciple who You loved said, we desire to be in this world who You are.
We cannot do that. You must do it in and through us. We beseech You, Lord Jesus, change us with an excruciating depth that breaks open this earthen vessel and brings forth the light of Your cross and resurrection. That can be, should be, must be our one desire.


Anonymous said...

The fact that so little has come from all of the light provided to us causes me to wonder if the prophesy of Isaiah 6:10 (as referenced in John 12:37-41) is pertinent to America today?

Anonymous said...

I also used to wonder about authors and musicians who receive payment for their music and wisdom. But, when they started using their talents and getting paid outlandish amounts for marketing these talents, it felt wrong. It felt like we were buying and selling the things of God.

I was in a Dollar Store once, and a middle-aged man was working the shelves, and started talking to me about how he lost a good-paying job and had to work there to keep food on the table. Even in his $8/hour job, he still had a joy as he told me about Jesus and his reliance on God for everything and how he was not going to get discouraged. And as a believer myself, him sharing that with me just had me wanting to praise God and thank Him for that man's faith and encouragement to my broken-down faith.

I thought, after, how incredible it is that the broken and downtrodden don't ask for royalties because they shared their testimony in print. And don't do the speaker's circuit at thousands of dollars a crack. Something in the realm of 'celebrity' has invaded the church. We now idolize 'celebrities' and become infatuated with their testimony because they are on featured magazines.

I pray this practice is seen for what it is.

Rick Frueh said...

Very good comment.