Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Continuing Metamorphosis of the One Called Jesus


THE CONTINUING METAMORPHOSIS OF THE ONE CALLED

JESUS

In my spiritual experience of almost forty years it has been gut wrenchingly sad to watch as Jesus the person and His message have been so changed and so altered in order to accommodate the fleshly desires of religious man. Some have made His gospel so bland and so inclusive that it has no meaning at all. Others have made many litmus tests which keep sinners at bay and make them run from God’s grace. And others have clothed Him with garments of red, white, and blue and paraded Him around like one of the signers of the Declaration. And still others have stored Him within the walls of some building used primarily on Sundays and then for all purposes leave Him there during the week. And there are others who claim that Jesus is on their side and they alone are His vocal servants. Yes, it has been oh so tragic.

The question is this: Will the church, or each individual believer, actually take the precious time to investigate these things or will most of the evangelical world enjoy being part of the metamorphosis that actively is transforming Jesus instead of being transformed by Jesus?

But this has been an ongoing strategy conducted by the evil one and his spirits of antichrist. There is nothing which activates the forces of deception more than the Person and message of Jesus. If they can deceive people about Jesus then they have accomplished something much greater than just an unproductive spiritual life. They have damned a soul. Yes we are all sinners and without Christ we stand condemned or damned. But the Holy Spirit seeks to illuminate the human heart as to Jesus and His gospel, but a great obstruction is present when that sinner has embraced a falsehood which names the name of Jesus and makes perfect sense and is even compatible with the American lifestyle and philosophy. And within that deception that sinner feels content, fulfilled, and eternally secure.

The question is this: Will the church, or each individual believer, actually take the precious time to investigate these things or will most of the evangelical world enjoy being part of the metamorphosis that actively is transforming Jesus instead of being transformed by Jesus?

But let us be perfectly clear and honest. We all have been affected by these personal forces of evil as well as the impersonal forces of philosophy. Instead of living and breathing under the shadow of His wings, the church has built local centers where people can get enough religion to keep them going but not enough to observably alter their lives by changing their hearts. And when there is some personal change, and there are some valid testimonies of the power of Christ, it is usually stifled and prevented from going into the extreme by the overwhelming force of those religious peers among which the new life has been birthed. This new life, naïve and pristine, sets out to follow Jesus in many unorthodox and fanatical ways which are completely at odds with the culture of the world and the church. But that fire is soon extinguished by reasoning, by logic, by the advice of the spiritual elders, and by the sheer weight of the evangelical culture already established and working like a well oiled machine.

The question is this: Will the church, or each individual believer, actually take the precious time to investigate these things or will most of the evangelical world enjoy being part of the metamorphosis that actively is transforming Jesus instead of being transformed by Jesus?

So in essence the Person, the work, and the message of Jesus Christ has been homogenized and presented in an orderly and nonintrusive fashion that blends in with the culture so well that unbelievers feel comfortable in joining forces with professing believers in all kinds of earthly endeavors from legislation to moral crusades and even war itself. You see, when the Son of God walked the earth the world hated Him and murdered Him, but this new Jesus is embraced by Hollywood, politicians, leaders from other religions, and even moral pagans.

The question is this: Will the church, or each individual believer, actually take the precious time to investigate these things or will most of the evangelical world enjoy being part of the metamorphosis that actively is transforming Jesus instead of being transformed by Jesus?

This is not to say we as believing followers of the Lord Jesus should be so obnoxious or abrasive that we elicit rejection from the world and then suggest we are being persecuted. But I am saying that if we truly desired to follow Jesus we would speak His words and do His works with love and grace, and that would be so out of step with the culture it might be seen as self righteous or at least like the Amish an observable curiosity. As it is we are little more than an accepted segment of a western culture which almost prides itself on its religious heritage and diversity.

The question is this: Will the church, or each individual believer, actually take the precious time to investigate these things or will most of the evangelical world enjoy being part of the metamorphosis that actively is transforming Jesus instead of being transformed by Jesus?

But how does that happen? How does a Divine Person live and teach things that are so against the cultural grain and then gather followers who claim His example and teachings as their own, but blend in so comfortably with a culture that is profoundly hedonistic and violent? How can those diametrically opposing manifestations be reconciled? My point is that how can a follower of Jesus or the church at large live so outside His teachings and yet claim to still be following Him? When I was young my mother used to warn me about my behavior outside the home. She used to remind me that I had the Frueh name and I was not only representing myself but my behavior would reflect on the Frueh name as well.

And this leads us to my original premise. The name of Jesus and all He lived and taught has been cleverly and conveniently altered so that we can now live just like the heathen and exegete the Scriptures to show that Jesus approves of our lifestyles. And while we squawk about men who deny the divinity of Christ we ourselves have stripped Him of His very own teachings and replaced them with ours. It is a most clever sleight of hand propagated by preachers and gladly received by pew dwellers.

The question is this: Will the church, or each individual believer, actually take the precious time to investigate these things or will most of the evangelical world enjoy being part of the metamorphosis that actively is transforming Jesus instead of being transformed by Jesus?
 
The answer is not easy and it requires much more than some alterations here and there. In fact it will mean a return to the real Jesus and His real teachings. It will demand a return to the faith as a whole. The entire faith that uses the name of Jesus has become so disfigured that it now seeks to be a peacemaker between the world and Jesus. And it has been quite successful, but instead of the Risen Christ it has presented some caricature called Jesus.

Where is this story going to take us? Like a rushing river stream the church has been carried to a place called apostasy, and in fact this is exactly where the American church now lives. The word apostasy means to leave something or to walk away from something or as Webster states, “an abandonment of a previous loyalty”. The overwhelming collection of professing believers in America are so deceived, so entrenched, and so numbed that even if they believed in their minds that the church was in apostasy they could not embrace it with their hearts. The practice of church is too good, too normal, too blessed, and just too entrenched as a part of our western experience. You see, the path to repentance is way too costly on all levels even if they could understand.

This Jesus, the new Jesus, has become so familiar and He seems to fulfill our religious needs so that to see Him in a more Biblical light and find He was quite different than what we have come to embrace would be devastating. It would alter the way we now think. It would alter the way we now pray. It would alter the way we now love. It would alter the way we now spend. It would alter the way we now “do church”. It would alter the way we teach and preach. It would alter our earthly involvements. You see, if we truly embraced the Jesus of the gospels, not just doctrinally and in our statements of faith but dramatically in our hearts as our template, it would require us to allow the Spirit to lead us into a life realm that was heretofore unknown to the church. But between peer affirmation, life commitments and life pleasures, and just the profound strength of spiritual lethargy now seen as the norm, there seems to be little interest in any kind of serious examination to say nothing of serious change. And so the church can continue to exist and practice with a predictable redundancy that soothes the religious conscience and manifests an Eli Whitney type of church membership process.
 
The question is this: Will the church, or each individual believer, actually take the precious time to investigate these things or will most of the evangelical world enjoy being part of the metamorphosis that actively is transforming Jesus instead of being transformed by Jesus?

The clever industriousness of the western religious mind is astonishing. A few years ago there was even a commercialized movement that sold earrings and bracelets and book covers and shirts and all kinds of religious trinkets. And printed on them all was the phrase “What would Jesus do?” Of course there are many ironies concerning that phenomenon. Firstly Jesus would not wear something that said that as if we wanted the public to know just how dedicated we were to Jesus. But the core of the irony was that it is the exact question that the church should be fervently asking through fasting and prayer and not bracelets. But believers loved it and smiled as if we are all in partnership to do whatever Jesus would do in every area of our lives. It was by God’s grace He doesn’t strike us all dead.

So the metamorphosis continues. The transformation of our own lives has ceased and we now reconcile the Scriptural teachings by Jesus and the obvious deviations from them by our lifestyles by transforming our vision of Jesus to be much more compatible with what we believe and practice. The force of the earthly culture has overtaken the church so deeply and it has gone on for so long that the church as a whole is now walking in a spiritual Stockholm syndrome. That means that some people who remain captive for a time begin to identify with their captors and some like Patty Hearst even develop a sympathy and even a camaraderie with those who had taken them by force. That is where the western church is today.
 
The question is this: Will the church, or each individual believer, actually take the precious time to investigate these things or will most of the evangelical world enjoy being part of the metamorphosis that actively is transforming Jesus instead of being transformed by Jesus?

The remedy is a colossal challenge. It requires seeing things that go against almost everything we were taught and almost everything we can imagine. It is to suggest that what is being taught and practiced concerning Jesus and the faith that follows Him has been rejected in favor of a more leisurely faith which overwhelmingly reflects a western mindset and lifestyle and not the true and living Jesus. Wow. To even seriously and sincerely entertain such a statement would at first shatter our world and ultimately lead to a spiritual path that is filled with repentance, uncertainty, sacrifice, self denial, brokenness, humiliation, loneliness, but would also be filled with great glory and an unfolding revelation of the Crucified and Risen Christ.

Now if that is what we cannot live without then that is our calling.
But if we can live without it we will continue to do so.
 
The question is this: Will the church, or each individual believer, actually take the precious time to investigate these things or will most of the evangelical world enjoy being part of the metamorphosis that actively is transforming Jesus instead of being transformed by Jesus?

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Pastor Rick, it's not just America, not just the western church - it is everywhere. The whole world conspires to dethrone God and put in place a new, convenient, McHappy Jesus who grants their every wish.

Anonymous said...

Ok, I'm going to try to answer this loaded question. And "try" is the word.

I believe "the individual believer will have to take the precious time to investigate these things", and some are doing so right now, and we can't see who they are until the Lord returns. I want and have to believe that many want to be transformed by Jesus. I have to keep reminding myself that Jesus has the glory and the power forever and ever. His Word is like a double-edged sword, which cuts asunder the thoughts and hearts of men. The Holy Spirit convicts and draws men to Jesus. I forget that His power is strong enough to keep the souls of men who originally sought him and what great work He began in them He will finish.

I don't believe that this new evangelical world that tries to actively transform Jesus has any power over the will of a redeemed child of God. While many still attend these churches, there are two kinds: those who want to appear religious and follow the status quo, and those who love Him with all their hearts and minds and souls.

And there may be a third group: those who are in-between the two. They have no time to study scripture for themselves and are preoccupied with the daily distractions of the world. I believe these honestly love the Lord, but depend too much on their leaders and are too complacent. But, the Lord wants to stir these ones up in this hour; and the Lord is stirring up watchmen like this blog, where they might take the time to peruse and read and be convicted and their eyes opened. Once their eyes are opened, they may be able to reach those religious zealots in their churches.

There is that metamorphosis going on and it's scary, and I wonder how far it will go? But there are souls in there who are under the bewitching of the leaders. So with the priest, so with the people. Even so, the people who were once delivered, can escape if the veil is pulled from their eyes.

I did the church-hopping years ago; each church had a worldly angle or some unscriptural doctrine. YET, God's presence was there. If it hadn't been for God's mercy and long-suffering, I would not have been touched in many heart-changing ways in those churches. He still moves in these churches, where two or three are gathered in His Name. If He did it for me, He will do it for others, and many who are in these questionnable mega-churches or oddity churches, may still find the Holy Spirit there, ministering to the honest seekers. It's incredible how He's willing to present Himself in the midst of such sin. And sometimes these strange manifestations happen in these churches and some call it of Satan. It may be that Satan hangs around trying to sabotage a move of the Spirit, and He might insert himself in a service influencing weaker vessels; but if the crowd knowingly are gathered in the Name of Jesus Christ, He is going to be there. We're living in a time where the forces of darkness are trying to disrupt worship - even Satan appeared to Jesus, the Holy One, and tried to tempt Him. So why are we surprised when those who get disruptive and scream and bark, worship under the same roof?

But I believe it's going to be an awful day of judgment for those pastors who knowingly are fooling their sheep. But I pray that most of these pastors are also temporarily blinded and will come to revelation and repentence. Whether they do or not, we as individuals HAVE to seek ourselves. We've been disattached from the religious umbilical chord, and now can only depend on the nutrition of the Bread of Life.

J.

Anonymous said...


Dear readers, the real Jesus isn't Santa Claus or Isa who worships Allah!

Dear readers, Santa, the imaginary gift giver isn't Lord Jesus, the giver of every good and perfect gift and Isa, isn't Jesus of Nazareth. Isa's witness is not trustworthy. Reject him and the rebellious, history denying god he worships in the Koran.

Dear readers, does a wise man or woman put their trust in a false god like Allah who denies the truths of biblical history?

Dear readers, have you voted for a god who never or rarely corrects or rebukes? Are you dancing happily for lies instead of truth?

Dear readers, no one needs to carry on closing their eyes and ears to Deuteronomy 28.

Dear readers, you can still turn to the King of love. Do you know who the King of love is? Do you know who the King of glory is? Do you know who the King of righteousness is?

Do you understand that this unique King is worthy of worship in spirit and truth? Do you know His name? His name is Jesus! King Jesus is the King of love, glory and righteousness. Let's love Him with all our heart, soul mind and strength, for this is God's will. Truly the King of love loves you!


Jesus is love!

Glenn Abernethy said...

Wow. I had to read that twice, as there was so much there I couldn't digest it all in one reading. How true and how sad...you make a number of excellent points. Prayer is needed as never before.