Per Fidem Intrepidus means "Fearless Through Faith". My courage isn't my own, it comes from the Holy Spirit, it's my faith in God and my personal savior Christ Jesus that calms my fears and allows me to move forward in this fallen world. Personally I'm afraid of a lot of stuff, but having the faith that Jesus adopted me as his little, sin filled, brother keeps me going.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The "God Is Good - ONLY Good" Church Of Joyful Heresy

"What's wrong with teaching about the joy of being a Christian?" A friend asked me that in defense of her favorable opinion of Joel Osteen. My answer, which was lost on her, was "What's wrong with feeding your children birthday cake at every meal?"

Yes, there is joy in being a Christian, but there's also pain, sin, doubt, angst, loneliness, responsibility, anger, and a whole raft of other things that come with being a human being. This is due to one simple reason: we are human beings. Becoming a Christian didn't make us impervious to these feelings, it didn't lift us above our humanity, what it does is gives us a coping mechanism when we have these feelings; trust and faith in God. 

Which is why the "Happy Slappy Clappy Church of Perpetual Joy" is such a danger, because it teaches a lie. Even though we have been accepted into the family of God, we're still here on this rock deep inside enemy territory. Sin and temptation still abound, pain has not been dismissed for our new beliefs, suffering is still with us. What happens when a new Christian who has been spoon fed the pablum of the prosperity Gospel and has been told that it's always sunny on this side of the cross suddenly gets an IRS audit or a child born with Downs Syndrome? Statistics tell us that they don't stay Christians for long. And whose fault is that? It's ours. 

It's our fault because we're teaching the Gospel but we're not teaching the Bible. The Gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ, that He, the son of God, died for our sins, rose from the dead, and our faith in Him saves us from eternal damnation. The Bible teaches us why we deserve eternal damnation and that salvation is beyond our filthy grasp which is why salvation is a true act of grace from a loving God. The Gospel is an awesome message, but to today's fallen society that's hardly good news. We have entire generations growing up steadfast in the belief that the lie that today's huggy feel good Sesame Street society pounds into their heads is true: "you are wonderful Just The Way You Are" 

Their response is naturally "Well heck, if I'm already wonderful, why do I need to be saved?" 

And that's a valid question because why would someone who is wonderful Just The Way They Are need salvation? It's valid is because we, as mature Christians, are not telling them the actual truth: "No you're not wonderful. You are a wretched, pathetic sinner and not fit to stand in God's presence for judgement, let alone reward. Just like me." And where is that message? it's in the bible,  like Romans 3:23 and it tends to get ignored by the seeker sensitive pastor who would rather spread joy joy joy rather than truth truth truth.

The problem is that the Happy Slappy Clappy Church of Perpetual Joy is only preaching a wee tiny bit of the entire message. Yes God is good, and yes, God is love, but He's a whole lot more. To shoehorn God into one small part of His entire divine character is such a disservice to new believers.  God is so much more - He is jealous, merciful, great, strong, gracious, righteous, angry, pure, wrathful, faithful, true, a consuming fire, but most of all He is Holy Holy Holy. 

So to stand up and say that God wants you to prosper is true, he wants us to prosper spiritually and not worry about material concerns. To repeat that He wants us to prosper over and over and over is sending the wrong message because the one message that He repeated over and over and over is that He wants us to repent. The prosperity preachers love to use the following verse to show that God is a gift giving god:
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich. (2 Corinthians 8:9)
God isn't talking about a new Mercedes every year and a summer place in the Hamptons, he's talking about a better kind of rich: to become rich in salvation, forgiveness, joy, peace, glory, honor, and majesty with Him when we go to join Him.

When I hear Rick Warren and his ilk proclaim their gospel of prosperity and cash I just want to scream "What about North Korea!" Christians in North Korea are being slaughtered for their faith; shot, beaten, run over with steam rollers, imprisoned, used as test subjects for biological weapons... doesn't God want them to be rich too? What about the christians in the Middle East being killed daily? Where does the prosperity Gospel play into all of this? No one in North Korea or Egypt or Iraq or Syria is preaching to these saints and martyrs that God wants them to have a new Ferrari and a beach house. Either God was lying about wanting us to be rich or maybe we Americans got the whole 'rich' thing wrong. 

As the return of our savior gets closer I beg the prosperity preachers to add a little something to their sermons - sin. Please stop trying to save the saved and start trying to save the sinners. How many people are sitting in our congregations just because it feels good to sit there. There's nothing wrong with a little brimstone on occasion to remind us how sweet is the blessing of salvation.

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