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

Monday, April 12, 2010

On Warm Fuzzies and Weak Faith

Recently a very dear friend sent me a link to a video clip called “An Interview With God.” It’s apparently pretty popular. You may have seen it yourself. In fact, I may be the last person to see it (I’m usually a little slow catching up to these kinds of things).

I have since found out that it comes from a website committed completely to this video and its message. Of course, the content is a bit older than the video. It seems this little poetic piece has been around for quite some time. But the packaging here is well done, with beautiful pictures and soft music, etc. My issue here is not with the quality of the production, but the message itself.

It begins saying that “I dreamt I had an interview with God.” Of course God is gracious as always to grant the interview. And the first question is: "What surprises you most about mankind?” That’s as far as I got the first time.

My first thought was: What surprises God? Absolutely nothing. He is the creator and sustainer of all life. He makes known the end from the beginning. He knows the hairs on our heads. Nothing surprises Him. He is God.

Ok, maybe I’m just being a little oversensitive about some things. I can at times be overly critical of things like this, while in true hypocritical fashion, I gladly repeat equally ridiculous ideas for creative purposes. So I decided to go ahead a move on in the presentation. God answers:

"That they get bored of being children, are in a rush to grow up, and then long to be children again. That they lose their health to make money and then lose their money to restore their health. That by thinking anxiously about the future, they forget the present, such that they live neither for the present nor the future. That they live as if they will never die, and they die as if they had never lived…"

Again, I stopped. Sure there are some good points here; pretty good criticism of the way we live sometimes. But do we really think these are the primary things that God would be concerned about? Would He not be more concerned about the way we claim to be Christians, but fail to live like Christ? Or that our churches are filled with people who are more concerned about meeting their own felt needs, making themselves happy; than they are concerned about faithfulness to the Word of God and proclaiming that Word to a lost and dying world? See His letters to the seven churches in Revelation. Is this really what would take top billing?

Calm down, Scott. It’s just a video. I know that. I keep telling myself that. But then it goes on to ask God, “As a parent, what are some of life’s lessons you want your children to learn?” God has given us 66 books worth of life lessons to learn: It’s called the Bible. It includes lessons of faith and conviction of sin; obedience and service; seeking the glory of God above all things.

But this God just wants us to know that “they cannot make anyone love them. What they can do is to let themselves be loved. . . To learn that it is not good to compare themselves to others. . .To learn that it is not always enough that they be forgiven by others, but that they have to forgive themselves.”

There were some other things in there. And, again, it’s sometimes some helpful thoughts. But if it were truly God telling us the most significant things we need to know, I’m relatively sure that the Gospel message of sin and Christ’s sacrifice for sin would be in there somewhere.

One more time, I know this is just a video. I know it’s just a little cutesy thing to give us that little chill up our spine we like to get sometimes. But what bothers me is that this is the sort of thing that passes for profound in today’s church. Unfortunately, it seems a little too much like the attitude I spoke of in my last post where we can be “spiritual without being religious.” Or where we can always meet God “or whatever higher power that name brings to mind.”

Michael Horton wrote a book about a year ago called Christless Christianity. In it, he suggested that the American Church is moving to a place where our Gospel sounds more like the American Dream than the Gospel of Christ. He quoted Donald Grey Barnhouse’s illustration of what things would look like if Satan really took control of a city:

“All of the bars would be closed, pornography banished, and pristine streets would be filled with tidy pedestrians who smiled at each other. There would be no swearing. The children would say, ‘Yes, sir’ and ‘No, ma’am,’ and the churches would be full every Sunday…where no Christ is preached.”

It short, spirituality and morality without religion, or without true Christian doctrine; an attempt to find God apart from the cross. I apologize if I’m overreacting (I probably am). This to me just seems symptomatic of a church culture in which there is little discernment, where there is more concern about warm fuzzies and felt needs, where my happiness is at the center of the service, and where we are more focused on ourselves and our emotional chills than we are about worshipping a Mighty God in the Splendor of His Holiness.

This is the result of a society where the majority would claim to be Christian, and yet many of those have no idea who Christ is, what His sacrifice is about, what true regeneration and salvation is all about. The church needs to return to faithfully preaching Jesus Christ and Him crucified, and stop settling for emotional appeals that simply tug at the heart strings and make people feel good about themselves, while still leaving them in their sin. There’s nothing wrong with an emotional response. But let’s not mistake that moving tingle up our spine for the movement of the Holy Spirit.

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