All over America it’s happening. People are shopping for just the right spirituality. Some people are shopping because of poor experiences in church. Some people are shopping because they want to “feel” a certain way. Others are shopping because they are looking for relational faith, though they might not say it this way. The options are endless. There are the charismatics and conservatives. There are traditional and ultra contemporary. There are small, large, and in between. Every shape, size, and flavor to fit your needs and your wishes is available. We live in the age of “MeChurch” because it is all about me right?
Where are we?
As each successive generation takes its place on the stage of life we increase the number of options for spirituality. The devil has clearly infiltrated through the means of feeling and preferences into our churches. People get bored and want something new. Arguments and fights ensue over music selections and version of the Bible. Gone, it seems, are the days when the church would split over carpet color and piano positioning. Now we are breaking up and having come-a-parts over music style, dress code, scripture version, and convictional preaching. How far we have come! We don’t want to offend anyone when in reality we care not about who we offend as long as it isn’t our friends.
Spirituality is on the rise. Christianity is on the ropes in this battle for the next generation’s souls. What is the problem? The problem, as will be discovered, is that for far too long we have been consumed with salvific and baptismal numbers rather than the development of the person into a mature follower of Christ in relational faith. We would far rather gain the accolades of our peers through numeric awards than do the hard work of helping a new believer become relational in his faith. Lt. Col. Frank Slade [Scent of a Woman] puts it best when he says that he has always known the right path but it was too hard and he choose the wrong path every time. We must choose the right path which is relational faith in Jesus Christ. I qualify the concept of faith with relational because I believe what we have been selling people is not relational faith but actually religious faith. Amid all the distractions of the world offerings we must be clear about the terms of God’s forgiveness and salvation. It is a free gift in that we could not earn our way into Heaven. Yet, it is a gift of freedom that demands responsible and dutiful living.
Throughout scripture God reminds His people that broken hearts, humble attitudes, servitude, and submission are pre-requisites to the fullness of God in one’s life. Listen to Paul
1 And so, dear brothers and sisters,* I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.*2 Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.Romans 12:1-2
1 "I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener.2 He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn't produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.3 You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you.4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.
5 "Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.6 Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned.7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!8 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.
9 "I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love.10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father's commandments and remain in his love.11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.13 There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends.14 You are my friends if you do what I command.15 I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn't confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.16 You didn't choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.17 This is my command: Love each other.
Did you hear the activeness of a relationship? Relational faith is the desire of God. A gospel that does not delineate transformational and relational living is not the true gospel. The Galatians were being accused of following a different gospel then what Paul had presented to them. He called them (us) to the original gospel. We are being summoned to a pure and honest delivery coupled with an understood and taught response.
How do we deliver a pure gospel?
What is the response we should call for from a person? How can we help others respond?