Friday, March 08, 2013

The Myopic Evangelical Church


In 1994, in the space of about 100 days, anywhere from 500,000 to 1,000,000 people were slaughtered in Rwanda, Africa. Most Americans do not know that nor do they really care. The genocide went on without much of an interest here in America. The human devastation was almost unfathomable. Mothers, fathers, and children died mercilessly. It is too bad they did not have oil or were in America’s national interest. Had they been white Europeans things may have been somewhat different.

And during this time we could assume the evangelical churches in America were at least fasting and praying in desperation? No, that would be massively inaccurate. So just what were the churches actually doing while such bloodshed raged? They were playing a game they so often like to play. Three Blind Mice.

This raises a profound question for all who confess Jesus as Lord. Are we to live with a vision for mankind that begins and ends in our national locale, or are we called to see the humanity without race, without social status, and without national citizenship? In short, are we called to care about all people around the world or are our interests primarily, or even exclusively, where we live?

Soon after the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came to seal and empower the first believers, the gospel went out into all the world. To have all the different Jews from all over the world in Jerusalem for the feast of Pentecost was a setting orchestrated by the Spirit of God. And when thousands believed on Jesus and were filled with the Spirit they went with Christ in their hearts and lives to the far flung corners of the world. And things of the Spirit began to happen at an amazing pace. The gospel bore fruit in almost unbelievable numbers and power until the rulers of this world became very nervous. No one seems nervous today.

And how did these new believers know to be concerned with brothers and sisters in Christ all over the world? Being so young in the Lord, and without the New Testament, how did they know to feel a sense of compassion for the lost and the poor? How did they know to support Paul’s missions and to give to the poor and needy people they had never met? And it was just that global vision that allowed the gospel to spread rapidly around the world. With no New Testament, with no Bible schools, with no television, with no Bible commentaries, with no church system for support, and yet many became missionaries purely upon the ministry and calling of the Spirit within their own hearts. Where is that today?

Millions around the world are starving to the point of death. Millions will die without medicine and proper medical care. Millions live in war torn areas with their very lives at stake every day. And billions walk in spiritual darkness. But with the knowledge of that situation we are colossal wasters of money and time. Walking a dry eyed and self serving existence we have constructed an ecclesiastical system which is supremely designed to meet our needs and wants with a small humanitarian corner designed primarily to soothe our consciences. I once mentioned to a very godly lady that people were dying around the world and she replied that we do not live in those areas. Yes, exactly.

Tragically the church in the west is just another consumer demographic. In fact many companies design some products in order to appeal to the evangelical community. A rich entrepreneur mentions that he supports traditional marriage and evangelical consumers by the millions flock to his place of business and purchase amazing amounts of his chicken sandwiches. Waiting in line professing believers reveled in their outward support of the already rich because it made them feel righteous. However millions of people were still starving. There we no lines to help them. Again, the evangelical community has become a narcissistic bastion of self righteousness.

We cannot plead ignorance. We know what is happening around the world. Oh we for sure do not know it as we should but we do know the unvarnished facts. And are we responsible to act according to God’s Word? Are there geographical boundaries for our responsibility? Surely we know the answer to those questions, and if the New Testament is true, and if the life and teachings of Jesus mean anything to us, then how can we wallow in wasteful abundance without any sacrifice? How can we turn a blind eye and a deaf ear toward those in such desperate need? What is this thing called Christianity all about anyway?

How myopic has the church become when we pass out voting record cards in the worship gathering and strongly urge people to exercise their Constitutional rights? That has become a passion within the church at the expense of following Jesus and His passion. We rush to confront the latest heresy and false teacher and yet just the way we live out the faith is heretical when juxtaposed upon the teachings of the New Testament. We are safe, contented, warm and well fed, and literally have need of nothing. The Spirit addresses that condition in the third chapter of Revelation.

All the issues of this fallen world have been adopted by us. All the economic and political issues and all the national and moral issues have become of great importance to the preacher and his pew dwellers. And when that becomes our focus, or even our hobby, we have lost the path of Christ. But once we have pinned down the doctrine of justification by faith and the exclusivity of Christ’s redemption are we then absolved from the responsibility to help meet people's material needs? Is ministering to the poor an elective? Has our doctrine muscled out ministry to the poor and needy or any worldwide vision, when in effect our doctrine, if Biblical, must compel us to be passionate about those things.

We all love to speak of the train to glory but do we love to be His living sacrifice while on that train? Could it really be possible that we will have to give an account to Jesus? Does the parable of the talents mean anything to anyone? The devil has provided a litany of false teachers and heresies so as to lull us to sleep concerning our own spiritual compromises and dilutions. The New Testament is replete with all kind of exhortations and admonitions about serving the needy and it makes no distinctions concerning the geographical radius from where you live.

I wish to provide you with some information which I hope you will receive in the spirit it is given. I have in 7 years only provided this information upon request. Approximately twenty years ago my friend and I started Uttermost Parts Fellowship which is a missionary outreach to places, primarily in Africa, which are in great need materially and of the gospel. My friend has the gift of administration and he has faithfully distributed the money to all the missionaries we support. He has never been paid one penny. He does it in love. We are tax exempt and send out tax information every year. If you are looking for a place where your money is assured of going to people who need it then I now provide you with the name and address of our foundation.
Uttermost Parts Fellowship
P.O. Box 61
Crystal Springs, Fl. 33524


Anonymous said...

Pastor Rick, this article is yet another timely reminder of how we have fallen short of God's standard.

Please let me share an account of something that happened last year. An elderly Christian (living in a modern first world Christian country) experienced a serious housefire, but was personally unharmed. Now this elderly Christian, though very quick in the Word of God, is not so savvy in the things of this world, in fact quite troublesome.

Now this elderly Christian made their plight known to their church friends, and survived a few weeks 'living' in a 24 hour mcdonalds resteraunt.

Now it happened that about 3 weeks after the fire, this elderly Christian happened upon a young friend and told this young friend about the situation. This young friend, having known the elderly Christian for a number of years, was not sure whether to believe the story.

Being, however, a very inquisitive personality, this young friend conducted an Internet search and found that it was true. To ascertained more facts, this young friend made several phone calls to other friends and acquaintences of the elderly Christian.

Now this young friend was utterly horrified to discover that these other people (all church attending professing Christians) knew exactly what had happened, were in contact with the elderly Christian, and refused to do anything at all to help. Their verdict was that this elderly Christian was an annoying personality, and deserved to suffer.

This young Christian, who is unemployed and without much resources, then immediately made a phone call to the church office (where both are long term members) and informed the pastors of the situation. Immediately, the church pastors set about applying as much assistance as they could.

Having done this, the young Christian chose to inform the others that the situation was under control, but was met with apathy and annoyance. The young Christian was even told that they had done too much, that the elderly Christian didn't deserve any help. Just to note that this elderly Christian was not in any way a criminal or an oppressor of humanity.

Pastor Rick, you may he wondering what is the purpose of this account - simply that the human heart is so wicked and evil. Unfortunately, some of the most cold and ruthless natures are found in the church pews. God help us if we are not near the very end.

Rick Frueh said...

Sad testimony. Thank you.

Anonymous said...


This brings something to mind that I could never share to my brethren in churches. I confess that I felt a grudge with people, invited ministers who came to my church. I know it wasn't right to feel any grudge against any brother/sister, because we are all trying our best to give back to the Lord with the tools that He gave us.

I have to come to grips that there are poor christians and wealthier christians. But it grieved me when U.S. pastors came to Canada to minister and they would have an entourage, preach, yet share stories about their adventurous lives in - Florida, Georgia, Texas, North, South Carolina, California. Many in the churches I attended were from small towns and poor rural concessions that tithed, offered and gave a "love" offering for these visiting pastors. I know that all of these people had never traveled to these places, let alone even travel locally out of their colder geographical locations (above the 45th parallel).

We'd hear their stories of how they took vacations to the coastal towns of their southern states, or would go hunting with their pastor friends; how they would receive an inspiring message while looking out at nature's beauty. They looked rested, tanned, well-dressed, were able to fly first class and after two days in our rain/snow-drenched town, would make jokes about our weather and were so glad to get back to their utopias. They haven't learned the fruit of "diplomacy or sensitivity".

Then, they'd leave and we'd never hear from them again. It did not edify me. I felt abandoned. I know others felt the same way. I've never addressed this to anyone because I was afraid to be told I was jealous. It wasn't jealousy as much as it was giving my all - everything I had to just hear this man/woman speak - why couldn't our own brethren had spoken a word to us? We can't relate at all to people who hunt and deep-sea fish in turqoise waters off of yachts. There are still people who live here in very humble homes. It just does not make sense that an apostle would jet in and out and spend those hundreds of dollars just to hear him speak?

The church has many many habits and protocols that just do not make sense. I remember being at a christian woman's conference and the guest flew up from Texas, telling us about her walk, and her busy life with her country clubs and traveling. It just does not edify those who can't afford diapers for their babies.

If people from rich countries think that they minister to the poor, they should think again. It is intimidating. It is patronizing and condescending to make much of prosperous men who believe that their oral skills are worth lowering themselves to give us "little people" attention out of their busy schedules.

I know this doesn't apply to all ministers. But, we have to face one reality. And that is that, unless we all have pretty much all in common, we risk not allowing God to work in a revival fellowship if the rich tend to the poor in word only, not in deed, and leave those poor (in finances and spirit) to fend for themselves. It happens when North American pastors think they are doing God's work when they travel to third-world countries. I can't see how an Ethiopian mother who is struggling feel when she sees a well-fed pastor and his children all lined up on the podium singing praises - it is easy for them. But, it leaves that mother feeling like God is a respecter of persons, and angry at her.

If the church can't live amongst the people they serve, then they shouldn't be there.

Lorena said...

There is nothing quite like bragging pastors.

Cherie c. said...


It is easy for people to tell you that what you feel is jealousy. Don't listen! Truth will always be called something else, or something against the truth teller to deflect responsibility. It wasn't until I was called out of the church system that I can see what you are saying and it makes me angry. But we must forgive them even if we don't want to, we must. You speak the truth and I appreciate it. Remember what the Lord said when He preached on the Mount? Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst righteousness, for they will be filled.

You seek righteousness, and expect it from those who profess to be followers of Jesus.

You dear brother or sister, are not jealous, just able to see and hear the truth. All Glory to God for you.

your sister in Christ Jesus,
Cherie c.

michael said...

Sometimes we cannot see the "proverbial" tree for the forest! We need to see both in balance not forgetting ministering to another happens where we are at, at our level and theirs.

There's a Greek word I'd like to point to to emphasize this:

From the same as G3619; to be a house builder, that is, construct or (figuratively) confirm: - (be in) build (-er, -ing, up), edify, embolden.
"to build a house", erect a building, to build up from the foundation, to restore by building, to rebuild, repair.
Metaphorically, to found, establish, to promote growth in Christian wisdom, affection, grace, virtue, holiness, blessedness and to grow in wisdom and piety.

Here's a portion of Scripture where that word is used that I have in mind to share:

Act 9:31 So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.

Consider the state of the "world" in those days? There was great upheaval and turmoil among governments worldwide as God was "playing" His Hand among men!

It's no different today.

In fact in a lot of ways seeing there is so much more happening in the world and so much more of the worldly nature that is vying for our attention, the Church it seems is in for a rude awakening of sorts as the Lord increases His presence and glory among men in all nations through the obedience of the Faith.

Rom 16:25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages
Rom 16:26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith--
Rom 16:27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

At the end of the day, just as in the days of King David so it will come to pass in our day too; just as was sung then so it will be sung and happen now in our generations too:

1Ch 16:31 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice, and let them say among the nations, "The LORD reigns!"
1Ch 16:32 Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it!
1Ch 16:33 Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth.
1Ch 16:34 Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!

And just as the Spirit of Grace and Truth, the Holy Spirit, was training men and women then during King David's time and reign; and then we see the same contrast during the days of the book of Acts too:

Act 8:9 But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great.
Act 8:10 They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, "This man is the power of God that is called Great."
Act 8:11 And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic.
Act 8:12 But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

So it is and will be in our day also that men and women, boys and girls are going to be filled with the Spirit and walk in the fear of the Lord and do mighty exploits through His Name!


Because, "this is why":

1Co 4:20 For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power.