Saturday, February 02, 2013

Marinated Christianity


MARINATED CHRISTIANITY

A long, long time ago a baby was born on this earth. He grew up to be a man who was like all the rest of men. There seemed to be nothing special about this man. However, this man began to perform some local miracles. A handful of people were very interested in his miracles. But this man also taught things out of the Torah that were unlike anything the Rabbis and Pharisees had taught. I mean he used some of the same words, only he had some kind of attraction, or even authority.

His miracles began to expand in depth and geography, and word of his so called power began to spread throughout Judea. More people came to see and hear him. But something he said seemed to give a hint about his own nature. Since it was preposterous, most people would not believe he was suggesting what some were accusing him of. But soon he openly and unambiguously suggested, of all things, that the Father God, the Creator Himself, was him. And when confronted about this, he seemed to reinforce the perception that indeed he was saying that very thing.

Some people left him because now he seemed unbalanced and self centered and even a bit crazy. How could a man be God? And further this man said he would be killed and rise from the dead, which again was preposterous but if true would substantiate everything he had said. But even his closest friends could not believe such a thing. But then something very curious happened; something, that if placed in context, seemed to prophetically materialize his teachings. This man was crucified, everyone agreed with that. But after he was placed inside a tomb and was without question dead, he was seen alive by hundreds of people.

The word began to spread that this man had risen from the dead, and if that was true then what about all the things he had said and taught? Thousands believed that he was indeed God manifested in the flesh and that his death, which took place on Passover, was in fact the culmination of all the blood sacrifices. In essence, this man, Yeshua, had paid the sin offering not just for a year, but for all time. And people who would embrace and follow him would gain eternal life.

Well, those who actually believed such a thing had an incredible transformation of their lives. I mean, if you really believed all that then your life would dramatically change and become absolutely remarkable in a cookie cutter culture that retained a small and self serving veneer of religion. In fact, many of His followers became so fanatical about their message, and so loving and giving and humble and peaceful that they became enemies of the earthly governments where they lived. Their loyalty to Christ openly interfered with their loyalty to their earthly leaders, and that became a problem.

It wasn’t long until these government officials became paranoid about these people and had them arrested. Many were imprisoned and many were killed just because they followed Jesus. But instead of wiping them out it had the opposite effect. This group of Jesus followers began to grow, partly because their lives were so remarkable and partly because they endured persecution with such grace and an unwavering commitment to act like Jesus even while they were being killed. It was a miraculous phenomenon and a spiritual revolution began to sweep the known world.

Fast forward two millennium.




 

Marinate definition: To give or undergo lengthy exposure: to be exposed to something for a long time, or cause somebody or something to be thoroughly immersed in something

For two thousand years Christianity had marinated inside a cauldron of earthly culture and that process has eventually made this remarkable faith appear innocuous and unremarkable and even culturally assimilated. While the first community of faith seemed to humbly eschew the pleasures of the culture, this new breed seemed to embrace them. And while the earliest followers of Jesus remained humble even under the severest of persecutions, this modern day church fights fire with fire and complains loudly at the appearance of even what would seem to be a harmless secular slight against them. No longer would they pray and fast for their enemies and trust Jesus to take care of them. Now they would do verbal, legal, and political battle with those in darkness.

And something quite remarkable happened. Although their numbers were in the tens of millions now, they had no observable power. Even their gatherings which were once a spectacle of prayer, communion, and life changing events were now little more than a redundant religious event which seemed literally to be designed to begin and end within culturally accepted time parameters. Even the Lord’s Supper was only observed infrequently and when it was it seemed like a well crafted event that would not significantly alter the set schedule. This new and modern gathering appeared nothing like the gatherings of Jesus followers at the beginning.

Again, after centuries of marinating the church had come to taste like its surroundings and not like the Lord Jesus. And this taste was alluring to many who saw an opportunity to be religious, gain a promise of eternal life, but still sacrifice nothing. In fact, this evangelical expression of the faith would benefit them in many ways. The local church had great ways to help their children, many conduits through which they could find friends, wonderful and moving music, and even a place where their sons and daughters could eventually get married. And with all these earthly accoutrements, who could resist?

And so the marinating process was complete. But a few believers began to feel uneasy about something. And these believers began to question some things, especially since many things seemed to go against Scripture, and the overall practice of the faith seemed completely unlike what the early believers lived. Now these questioning believers were not the most intelligent, nor the most discerning, or even the most spiritual among the rest. But something very clear and very real was happening within their hearts. They had begun to see the church as being transformed, not by the Spirit of Christ, but by the power of the culture. And those that saw these things were devastated, sad, and very confused.

But even in the midst of emotional and spiritual uncertainty and even pain, they still could not deny what the Spirit was saying and doing within them. In fact, they themselves were in the midst of great personal repentance even while seeking diligently the leading of the Spirit. “How can other people not see this?”, they thought and sometimes asked. They would come to realize that only the Spirit can enlighten a person’s heart and mind. And they would also come to realize what a demonic battle they would fight as it pertained to being self righteous or a feeling of superiority.

Layers of culture that had marinated within the faith would have to be washed off through prayer and God’s Word. And just when they washed one layer off, the Spirit would reveal another. And many layers were personal and literally had nothing to do with the church. Yes, it was a real and authentic spiritual journey. And it was not very long into this journey that these believers discovered that the journey would not end here on earth, and that few would take their journey. Again, they battled judgment and frustration and even their own frequent stumblings.

Marinate definition: To give or undergo lengthy exposure: to be exposed to something for a long time, or cause somebody or something to be thoroughly immersed in something

But as one of those questioning believers, I have found one immutable Rock about this journey with which everyone who is on the same journey, regardless of how long or how deep, should identify. If we wish to continue on this journey and press on through all the disappointment, the ups and downs, the continuing slide of the church, and our own failings, we must…we must keep our eyes upon Jesus. Unless we do that with great humility, love, and sacrifice, the marinating process will begin again within our own hearts.

15 comments:

Kim K. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Thank you again for another good word.

"Their loyalty to Christ openly interfered with the loyalty to their earthly leaders, and that became a problem". from "Marinated Christianity. So eye-openingly true! This is what is happening today. The aggressive voices aren't the liberals, democrats, libertarians, or the sick, the poor, the destitute, the homeless, the struggling class. The earthly leaders that want submission to themselves are the marinated church leaders.

These marinated church leaders want allegiance and are the ones that call out people's offenses, hate those who can't pull themselves up by their bootstraps, hate the homosexuals, hate the abortionists, hate Hollywood, hate media, hate anyone who opposes gun control, etc.

The very people they accuse of being dictators (Obama Administration) are the ones who are trying to relieve the poor, the needy, the homeless, those who can't pull themselves up by their bootstraps, and give equal rights (by the penned signatures of their own Founding Fathers) to those who are different and do not hold to the "biblical standards". Marinated christians have no loyalty to Christ if they wish to BE Christ on earth. They act like heaven's police, heaven's military on earth. They accuse those who don't yet know God, and if they could, would throw them in jail. They love earthly justice and earthly vengeance. They love capital punishment, some even saying, "they'll bring the rope".

These who are so quick to want to bring the rope, who call themselves christians, are the new earthly leaders who want men's allegiance, they demand men's allegiance, they want to interfere in men's convictions to only follow Christ. They are so certain that they are God's government officials on earth that they would arm themselves with earthly weapons to defend their rights so they say, to protect God's Kingdom on earth. The Kingdom they serve isn't Christ's Kingdom.

It's true. It takes the Spirit of God to transform their hearts and minds from this delusion. God did say He would send a strong delusion, where even the elect would be deceived. So our brethren are being deceived into this false christendom.

The very people that they are persecuting are their own brethren who don't conform to their narrow-minded views, and if a loving brethren wants to pray for his President, they become so antagonistic. They want us all to persecute unbelievers, and when we don't, they call us traitors.

Chris Baumgart said...

Amen. I hear that!

Anonymous said...

So grateful to be "pickled" no longer. But I hear and heed the warning, Rick, on how easy it is to slide right back into that pit of formaldehyde.

michael said...

As one of those questioning True Believers born again conjoined to the Son our Heavenly Father sent to save His people from their sins I ask is this sentence intentional or just poorly constructed?

(" But soon he openly and unambiguously suggested, of all things, that the Father God, the Creator Himself, was him. ")

Rick Frueh said...

Intentional. (poorly constructed?)

michael said...

You are a Trinitarian, the persons One God?

Rick Frueh said...

Yes.

michael said...

For some reason the sentence reads like you are saying Jesus is Father God? That's why I raised sentence structure.

Rick Frueh said...

Jesus and the Father God, the Creator, seem inseparable which is a mystery.

michael said...

Yes a mystery indeed!

One of my fall back Scriptures is this one because it kind of succinctly puts the mysteries into a perspective helpful to some who grapple with them.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. (Ecclesiastes 3:11 ESV)

Cherie c. said...

Brothers, where is the mystery? Jesus is God

John:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

2 The same was in the beginning with God.

3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

No mystery that I can see.

" But soon he openly and unambiguously suggested, of all things, that the Father God, the Creator Himself, was him.

This saying is correct. Praise God, no mystery.

your sister in Christ Jesus
Cherie c.

Rick Frueh said...

I Tim.3: 16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

The Trinity, the virgin birth, the incarnation - all true, but all great mysteries.

Cherie c. said...

Feeling stupid, now I get it. Thanks Pastor.

your sister in Christ Jesus,
Cherie c.

Chris Baumgart said...

Adding to the conversation, this jumped out at me yesterday... Luke 18-19, and a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? None is good, save one, that is, God. -- Jesus abides fully in the Love and righteousness of the Father. We abide fully in the Love and righteousness of Jesus, making us one with the Father... Wow.