Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Westen Church - Embracing Sin

The Western Church - Embracing Sin

Matt.6:19-21 - Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Matt.6:24-34 - No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?
28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

I Tim.6:5-8 - Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.

I Tim.6:9-10 - But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

Now before you begin to salivate while anticipating an exposé on homosexuality or abortion or some other moral issue du jour, allow me to present to you a sin in which almost all of us participate. It is a very serious and grievous sin, and one to which the Lord Jesus referred many times. In fact, it is addressed often throughout the New Testament and it is identified clearly as deplorable. This sin is one that does not make the table of contents on the discernment sites. It is a sin that I must confess to as well. I have openly and defiantly committed this sin in opposition to the overt commands and directives of the New Testament. And the western church as a whole has been so swallowed up by the culture that it no longer even considers this a sin.

This sin has many different forms, but it revolves around one thing. Money. This is the dirty little secret that flourishes quite nicely within the current framework and teaching of the western evangelical church. The average evangelical church assigns this sin to the prosperity movements, but that is just a ruse in order to camouflage our own sin. It is a spurious attempt to accuse and excuse sin through a prism of degrees. If you tell ten lies and I only tell one, then you are a sinner and I am not. Or at least my sin can be forgiven while yours cannot.

As a backdrop I would like you to answer a question. What issues do you hear about from the pulpit most often? Is it homosexuality, or abortion, or socialism, or American exceptionalism? Biblical inerrancy? I would guess that these are prevalent topics within evangelicalism. But for ever verse about homosexual behavior there are twenty verses about greed, avarice, worry, stockpiling money, and the allurement of material things. In fact, if you exclude the topics of the Lord Jesus and His gospel of redemption, the topic of money and all its various tributaries is a New Testament theme. And that was written to a relatively poor culture compared with today’s standards.

The phrase “You can’t see the forest for the trees” is very applicable in our present situation. We are so consumed with the sins of others that we are blind to the grievous sins within the church itself. Sure divorce and adultery are rampant, but the church at least gives a half-hearted rebuke of those sins. But with materialism and the blatant accumulation of personal wealth, well, the western church teaches that to be a divine blessing and in fact a divine motivation. In fact, most western evangelical churches embrace and practice capitalism in the very same manner as does our culture. Most even teach it is the divine will.

The church recites the few verses about same sex behavior and rails consistently about that sin. It has become almost an obsession. But when confronted with this verse:

- “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:” -

the church finds a comfortable place for it in its theology. When it comes to teachings about money, the church exhibits an amazing ability to navigate around the literal and into the realm of situational ethics and relativism. And all this while loudly and proudly proclaiming to be “Biblical literalists”. The same mouth that trumpets the twenty-four hour creation day manipulates Matt.6:21. The same statement of faith that proclaims the Bible to be inerrant shaves the rough edges off of such inconvenient verses. The western church teaches that as long as your “heart is right” you can seek and accumulate all kinds of wealth, and in fact, God will bless you in that endeavor. And if you tithe then the sky’s the limit!

Take for instance this teaching:

Matt.6:28 - And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

How many believers spend more money on clothing than is necessary based upon fashion and a greater enhancement of their appearance to others? How many believers spend inordinate amounts of money at restaurants when they could just as easily eat at home? How many believers drive more expensive cars than is necessary including thousands of dollars of borrowed money? And how many believers are content with food and clothing? Is it not obvious that through a conscious manipulation of the Scriptures the sin of greed and narcissism runs rampant and is actually embraced by the western church?

Of course that is if we take the words of Jesus and the New Testament as a direct communication from God Almighty. Who are we fooling? And before we go any further my point is this: The church has become moral hypocrites who use the sin of others as cannon fodder while not only ignoring their own sin, but fully embracing it as the divine way. The church teaches that material gain is God’s blessing and capitalism is God’s vehicle. And we fully practice that teaching.

But when a misguided soul suggests that same sex attractions are God’s way since he was born with them, we do a self righteous rain dance and condemn him to hell. But the principle is the same. Both are not only suggesting that a sinful practice is not sinful, but that it is God’s design. And yet many people will read these words and still not see the connection. The blindness is that deep and entrenched. When it comes to money, the deception has become widespread, deep rooted, and completely embraced by the church through a systemic commitment to the culture instead of a sacrificial surrender to the open teachings of Scripture.

It does not mean we are not saved, but it should suggest to us that we must address our own sins before we use the sins of others as camouflage for our own. Slowly but surely the church has learned the way of the heathen and we have long since abandoned any authentic conviction about the use of money and material things. Moderation now means whatever the bank will allow you to borrow in pursuit of material things. Even preachers have become wealthy. From John MacArthur to Charles Stanley, from Rick Warren to David Jeremiah, and most local preachers, their salaries and accumulated wealth mirrors that of the fallen world. In fact, most churches design their salary packages according to the cultural norm and the size of the church as well as the number degrees the pastor displays. That is the world’s system in open practice. And I did not even mention the lucrative business of Christian singers and music.

(I must admit I enjoyed a bit of carnal enjoyment when thousands of churches who rail against the gay community used Ray Boltz’s music, and suggested they were mightily anointed, and even wept during some of his songs, only to discover he was gay.)

Peruse the discernment blogs and identify the issues. There are the regular heresies, the Rob Bells and Rick Warrens, there are the Joel Osteen categories, and many even include a Barak Obama and socialism section. Then there are the health and wealth sections, the contemplative prayer warnings, the neoCalvinist sections, and the many compromising associations a la John Piper and Rick Warren. And there is a continuing information stream about everything gay. Yes, the discernment blogs have the apostasy market covered. But how many address the money issue outside the well worn mantra of the prosperity folks? And even though the prosperity preachers are heretics, they have become straw men that provide cover because their teachings and practices are so inflated and blatant.

But you that condemns others for stealing, dost thou steal? And you that castigate others for unbiblical practices, dost thou practice unbiblical things as well? And you who confront others for Biblical manipulation, dost thou also manipulate the Scriptures? I often wonder what would happen if the western evangelical church at large made a covenant among themselves and allocated one year to concentrate exclusively on their own sins and a transparent and fresh look at the Scriptures endeavoring to be stripped of any preconceived ideas. How God might use that year in our lives!

But life goes on with a redundant regularity and void of any demonstration of the Spirit. The church will open its doors today to tens of millions of members and after another typical service those same members will return to their unremarkable lives and prepare for the same rat race on Monday that was there last Monday. This year’s election will provide some elevated passion and emotions, but nothing eternal will occur. And if the economy gets better, they will re-elect the president. If it gets worse, perhaps we will have our first Mormon president. Did you catch what will be the deciding factor? Yep, money.

So the church continues to wallow in the pig pen of the cultural norm. And she continues to justify her own wallowing by standing against the wallowing of others. It is quite an astonishing feat to justify our own spiritual condition by comparing ourselves with others. It is more astonishing when you consider that the New Testament teaches against such comparisons. But when money is involved, there seems to be no real parameters for compromises. Anything and everything is spiritually legal. But one day all of us will have to stand before God and give an account for our lives. And when the church is taken out of this world and billions of dollars remain unused in Christian bank accounts, and when fallen financial institutions have been fed by billions of interest dollars from individual believers and churches collectively, and when our debt laden church buildings become the property of the fallen world, what will we say to God then?

I know. Let’s tell Him about the gays.


Anonymous said...

Again, this is a slam dunk preaching!

It is so easy to forget how deceived we can be, even after our conversion. That verse where the Lord will send strong delusion in the end days comes to mind.

Some churches have thrown reason out the window. There seems to be this spirit of foolishness, lack of reason permeating the United States in this political season, and the church jumps in and partakes of the insanity. 2Tim 1:7 - For God hath not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind".

So many unreasonable arguments that we hear from well-respected christian leaders in news are that the wealthy should not be highly taxed, over-reach governing is bad, food stamps must be removed, the poor are lazy and have no excuses not to work, relegate all trust to rich men who will donate charitably to those in need, and keep government out of the role as a safety net. None of this sounds like it comes from a christian heart.

The world is out of control, western society is overwhelmed and at this point, there are no solutions. But, the church tries to insert itself in the political dialogue and pretends their man of the hour can make them rich, powerful, and sit in the boardrooms of the elite, where they can yield dominion over the masses, and call it "evangelism".

Where it all leads, it's scary to think about. But, the money thing is what the church seems to be all about these days. As a naive church-member years ago, I was made to feel guilty because my husband and I didn't tithe. We were quoted scripture on tithing and were told it was the least we could do for the Lord after what he did for us. We began our tithing walk for about 4 years and it stretched us thin. And, I still felt guilty because we only tithed "after taxes". We didn't tithe our gross salary, just our net salary. I asked the Lord for mercy. I was being made to feel guilty, and we were borrowing on credit cards to pay for extras, because of 10% going to the church; I was a stay-at-home mother and we had one salary.

It dawned on us later that there were a lot of conflicting acts the church required that the gospels warned against. I'd read Ezekiel 34 and reassess how the church was destroying souls of men because they muddied the waters, keeping us blind and guilty.

Interesting how those with money, or a nice future financial secure retirement nest egg are the ones with the loudest voices in the church. It's hard to hear a preacher preach fire and brimstone, knowing he runs to his summer cottage or home to unwind and 'meditate', or is invited to attend an out-of-country conference in a swanky hotel, or rub shoulders with the heads of the powerful. The apostles wore one pair of sandals and had one coat until they needed another. The humble modest preachers don't seem to have a venue or a voice.

I remember one TVevangelist preaching that Jesus was rich, and had the best. Hopefully, there are just a handful who are conned by that and see the error of that soon.

Marc said...

"For the love of money is the root of all evil" (1 Timotius 6:10)

For the purpose of increasing his income, the church has sacrified the true gospel, and has become a place of vile entertainment.

The church doesn't even look again like a house of prayer but has become like a TV platform, a cinema or sport hall. There are many sport facilities but there are no more Bibles or hymn books inside.

In these entertainment churches rich people are welcome while poor people are meprised because they are a burden for them and because they don't give enough money to satisfy their lust. This is why when you go to these church for the first time, they look at your garnment and at what car you are driving...

The true gifted and learned musicians have been evicted to be replaced by players of demonic rock music that scratch electric guitar, beat electronic keyboard or drum, and scream into microphones until they attact demonic spirits and start feeling drunk by them, even believing being filled with the Holy Spirit, but they are only insulting God.

The church has become a place of abomination, a Babylon.

"Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues." (Rev 18:4)

SL said...

I don't understand that the western world sees riches, wealth and health as Gods favour on them and that the more they have the more God loves them ,yet across the seas in Africa there are God fearing Christian folk who are starving,poor and sick. Does God not want to bless them? Are they loved less than the Western church goers? Why does the likes of Joel Osteen forget about them? Where will there best life now ever come from?
How do these Christians warm the pews every Sunday listening to how great they are and then after the service retreat to a hot Sunday lunch whilst millions of other Christians starve and die...
This does not make sense. I can not attend church anymore as I see it as a feel good , bless me gathering, totally forgetting those who are suffering....

Am I wrong? I am totally perplexed, disillusioned...