We make decisions every day about what we will do, and what we will not do. And therein lies the dilemma of the human experience: Our lives revolve around alternative choices–forks in the road—and consequently those choices determine our destiny. Some choices are minor and neutral but others bear more weight. Some are downright crucial.
Like dominos tilting toward other dominos, most decisions set us on courses of action that influence other decisions, which eventually tumble toward a concluding destination or result. We all want to end up in pleasant places. But not all decisions have beneficial results and sometimes the consequences take us by surprise. Most often, though, we know what the result of a bad decision will be, but we intentionally indulge ourselves anyway. Eating wrong foods or devouring too much is like that. My doctor recently lectured me on eating better to remedy my borderline diabetes. He said, “Dan, if it tastes good, spit it out.”
So in the crucial decisions of life, why as believers in Jesus Christ do we do what we do? Well, it’s because our actions result from our thoughts. If we think like the world, we’ll act like the world. If we think prayerfully on Christ and His Word, our actions will reflect those thoughts. Salvation in Christ is supposed to change our thinking and enable us to make spiritually beneficial decisions. That’s what is supposed to happen. But I have noticed that in today’s American church it rarely does.
That may sound like a wild generalization and I admit, of course, that there are wonderful exceptions. Sadly, observation tells me that surface Christianity has become the norm while total commitment to Christ and His Kingdom is becoming less common.
Early Christianity did not have the support of the Roman government for the first three centuries of the church. No prayer and Bible reading in the schools, no manger scenes, or Christian crosses in the town square, no Ten Commandments hanging on the courtroom walls, rampant immorality, exploding homosexuality, and open hostility to the Gospel of Christ. Sound familiar?
Yet, the rabble-rousing mob cried out to the Thessalonian government officials, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also” (Acts 17:6 – emphasis added). Radical commitment to Christ and His message of transforming love was overwhelming the Greco-Roman culture.
Let me ask you, who’s overwhelming our culture today?
Not the Christians of the American church. Think about it. It’s the political far-left with its anti-biblical agenda; and, it’s radical religionists who intimidate us with an obsessive commitment to their religious perspective and messages of hate and death. Love is actually stronger than hate—but you would never know it by observing the Church.
Passionate about what they believe, these people—radical politicians, corrupt world leaders, and radical religionists—would sacrifice everything for their cause, even life itself. Take, for example, the case of Islam. They do not accommodate themselves to the culture. Worship services feature prayers and long sermons by the clerics—not praise bands, emotional singing and watered-down sermonettes. They have no interest in emerging into contemporary relativism in order to fit in with postmodern thought. They bow prostrate five times a day and memorize the Koran. They are not politically correct and they’re not culturally attractive. They defy every principle of modern church growth. Yet, they are growing—even attracting young Americans to join the cause because of their passionate commitment.
This raises a basic question. What in the world are we, as believers (and churches) of Jesus Christ doing, and why are we doing it?
Insipid evangelism and shallow teaching are an embarrassment to the cause of Christ. I love the Body of Christ. But I’m losing my respect for “the Church.” The world isn’t impressed with the Church either—probably because they don’t see an awe-inspiring commitment to Christ.
My purpose here is not to extol the virtues of radical godless religions, but to expose a fundamental flaw in the Christian mindset about what it means to be a follower of Christ.
Fifty years ago the American church made a collective decision to become more attractive to the culture. Seeker-services and entertainment scenarios became the ecclesiastical rule of the day and the Great commission was revised from “GO” to “COME.” That decision put us on a course of consumer religion and an audience mentality. In our hurry to become attractive, we have become tawdry.
Well, whatever happens with the church, perhaps we as individual believers need to make another decision—to adopt a whole new way of thinking. Instead of following the collective rabbit down the hole into Alice’s Wonderland, let’s turn our eyes upward and absorb the mind of Christ as He instructs us on how to make better decisions.
Pursuing Christ means denying ourselves, dying to the world, and following Him (Matthew 16:24). Now that’s radical!