For it is by grace you have been saved...

Monday, January 25, 2010

Passion vs. Popularity

“If Jesus had a church in Simi Valley, mine would be bigger. People would leave His church to attend mine because I call for an easier commitment. I know better how to cater to people’s desires so they stick around. Jesus was never really good at that. . . I’m much more popular than Jesus.”

If that had been said by some raving heretic, I wouldn’t have even looked twice, because it would simply show what I’ve known all along, and that’s that most mega ministers (and some of us mini ones two) are more concerned with being Culturally Relevant and popular than Biblically Faithful and pure.

However, this didn’t come from a raving heretic. It came from an article by Francis Chan, author of Crazy Love. Not everyone may like him, but he’s certainly not anywhere close to the raving heretic category. Which is why the statement shocked me, and caused me to re-read the article.

Essentially, he’s talking about having a genuine passion and love for Christ, something that is often missing in our churches today. He was commenting on the fact that we are often more interested in keeping folks around than we are calling them to the passionate commitment Christ requires. Specifically, he was remarking on the issue of public piety vs. public passion; the fact that we often lead without a genuine passion ourselves, hence our churches are no better.

He says in that article: “God calls us to give people what they need. Based on His word, regardless of whether they stick around. Jesus led. Few followed, but He kept leading.”

This fits quite well with a study my SS Class has been doing. We’ve been going through Thomas Vincent’s The True Christian’s Love to the Unseen Christ. Largely, Vincent is making some of the same points, showing that genuine passionate love for Christ is the required norm, and is sadly lacking in the majority of our churches. And he wrote that over 350 years ago. I don’t think it’s gotten any better.

Whether we’re talking about leaders leading in love, or the average church member living in love, the truth is, we have been called to all out love and devotion to Christ.

"If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. . . So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26, 33; ESV)

“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30, ESV)

Total commitment. Total passion. Renounce everything and follow him. Doesn’t matter what the world thinks. Doesn’t even matter what the church thinks to a degree. We are called to love Christ supremely and to call others to the same passionate devotion whether it’s popular or not; whether the crowds stay or not. God will tolerate no rivals. He is everything or He is nothing. And our commitment to Him, His supremacy in our lives, will be seen in our all out passionate love for Him.

As Vincent wrote: “Without love to Christ, we are as much without spiritual life as a carcass when the soul is fled from it is without natural life.” He says: “Christ knows the command and influence which love to Him, in the truth and strength of it, has; how it will engage all the other affections of his disciples for Him; that if He has their love, their desires will be chiefly after Him. Their delights will be chiefly in Him; their hope and expectations will be chiefly from Him.”

If our commitment is to Christ first and foremost, if He is the center of our love and our passionate pursuit; the quest for popularity will cease; the focus on drawing crowds for pride’s sake will disappear; and our commitment to proclaiming His truth, no matter how unpopular, will consume us.

May it be so in my life, in my family, in my church family, all for the Glory of God.

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