WHEN "CHRISTIANITY" DENIES CHRIST

The Domesticated 'Christian Message'

"We have been dosing our people with religion when what they need is not that but the living God"
Frederick D. Maurice

I recently watched part of a typical Christmas Eve Midnight Service which was broadcasted on British television.

The service was set in a grand and sumptuous cathedral with a large congregation. A decision had obviously been made to go for a populist approach and so there were several notable UK television personalities to be seen in the congregation.

It soon became obvious that six or seven of these personalities were going to give various brief messages; they were not scriptural readings but mostly appeared to be either written by the personalities themselves or were quotes from poetry.

As the service unfolded it suddenly occurred to me that one can have various messages about Christ and God, even enough to fill a one hour televised Christmas service, and yet none of those messages truly comprise the Christian Gospel! Here, then, was a domesticated Christian 'message' full of inspirational quotes and comments, often (though not always) about Jesus and yet despite the Christmas setting and the story of the birth of Jesus, the Gospel was never even once clearly represented! There was absolutely no sense in which this programme attempted to call men and women to repentance in the face of the reality of Christmas, rather, here was the story of a good man whom we may aspire to by doing good deeds in our lives, and the whole programme proceeded in that rosy glow. Here, then, was the representation of a domesticated God; a politically-correct Jesus who smiled on all the faiths (one of the television personalities spoke of our need to accept 'all faiths' and not be prejudiced towards them), here was a warm, sentimental 'house-trained' Jesus who would offend no one!

As I listened to this, I could not help thinking of the many things which Jesus said which would not have been allowed to upset the hunky-dory, sentimental warmth of this programme;

"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves"
(Matt 7:15)

"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord', shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven"
(Matt 7:21)

"Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword"
(Matt 10:34)

"These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me"
(Matt 15:8)

Later on, Paul would write,

"..Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty"
(2 Cor 6:17-18)

And James would write,

"Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God."
(James 4:4)

Of course, such Scriptures have to be held in balance with those Scriptures which teach us to reach out with the Gospel to the poor and afflicted and to be prepared to go into the world with that message; yet the Scripture is very clear:

We must, as Christians, separate ourselves from this world and from 'worldliness', only then are we qualified in God's sight to go back into the world with the Gospel message. But we need to be clear about the composition of the Gospel message:

REPENT OF YOUR FORMER ALIENATION FROM GOD AND ACCEPT JESUS CHRIST AS YOUR SAVIOUR ON A PERSONAL LEVEL; COMMIT THE REST OF YOUR LIFE TO CHRIST THROUGH PRAYER, CHRISTIAN SERVICE AND BY LEARNING MORE ABOUT HIM (THROUGH BIBLE STUDY), THEN SHARE THAT KNOWLEDGE THAT CHRIST IS THE ONLY SAVIOUR OF MANKIND WITH OTHERS!

I find that a growing number of modern Christians struggle to correctly define just what comprises the substance of the Gospel, but we should all be clear about it; how can we present the message to others if we cannot correctly define it?

We must not reduce the dynamic message of Jesus Christ to just another religion. The great Swiss theologian Karl Barth, said, 'Religion is unbelief'; actually, the moment we list Christianity as one of the world's religions, we deny the message of Jesus Christ!! Of course, it is inevitable that those whose minds have never been opened to the truth of Christ, will consider His message just another religion, but it is not.

All the world's religions depict a concept of a God who can be approached by us and we can come into His favour by doing various good deeds/religious duties, but Christianity never teaches such a message. The truth is, God is too far above us for us to approach Him and all our own works of "goodness" and "righteousness" are nothing more than filthy rags in His sight; yet this God has so much love for us, that HE CAME DOWN TO US, IN ORDER TO MAKE CONTACT! No other religion presents such a picture!

We should be greatly saddened that 21st century western society so often upholds Jesus Christ as just one religion among many others and that many of our churches uphold a religion which is about show, ornamentation and ritual and a sanitised message is preached which effectively domesticates God lest any should be offended; in the process, of course, the true Christian Gospel is rarely preached since our permissive and liberal age considers the true message of the Gospel to be too confrontational! The result? Salvation is effectively 'shut up' and concealed from the people, indeed, a people who need to hear that message so desperately!

So as I watched this Christmas service, I felt a growing sadness and despair that for the overwhelming majority of the audience, nothing was being said or done which might disturb the picture that Christianity is no more than one religion among many. I am not going to judge the leading UK television personalities who were involved in this sentimental programme, but it is well known that one of them is keenly interested in New Age and various areas of the psychic, others undoubtedly would not claim to be Christian either. No, the readers were television personalities, purely and simply which is why they were there. Perhaps, if the fully biblical Gospel had been suddenly and unequivocally preached, these people would have been shocked, stunned and perhaps offended! Yet what great good the message would have done for the television audience who, without doubt, are rarely - if ever - exposed to the life-changing message of the Gospel!
Robin A. Brace
2003







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