It used to be that Christianity was one of the pillars of American society with its influence felt in virtually all areas of life. In recent times however, we have seen a decline nationwide in Christian influence with a subsequent decline in church attendance. In many instances the reason for this can often be traced back to “being hurt” at some point of time by people in the so-called church or in seeing others mistreated by people in authority within the church whether they be pastors elders or deacons.
Now what I am about to say may strike some who read this letter as odd. Nevertheless, I believe it to be at the foundation of a majority of instances where people are hurt or “driven away” from ecclesiastical gatherings.
In my years of existence as a mortal I have only come across one person in all my life who was able to tell me directly and simply the difference between Christianity in its many forms as opposed to virtually all other belief systems. That difference or the only thing that really matters is that Christians historically believe (because the Bible clearly teaches) that they are accepted and have favor with God not by their own works or holiness but through God’s works and or holiness. This difference if one cares to give it some serious thought, is nothing less than groundbreaking in scope! For it not only goes against human nature, but as a result virtually everything we have been taught in life concerning how to succeed whether it be in secular life or even in the church!
Practically speaking if we want to prosper while we are on this planet, we must work hard, and if we want to thrive and succeed in our relationships with one another, the same philosophy again applies! Therefore, the reasoning goes that if there is a god, he or it must function in the same way (in a works or performance-based manor). Now the only way we could ever buy into such a philosophy is if we tried to set the boundaries for this god ourselves (and indeed, we do this the majority of the time whether we realize it or not).
However, if there is a god who made this world and universe, and who engineered all living things including man, how could we possibly be foolish enough to think we could in any way please such a god unless he or it chose to be pleased on our behalf?
In Christianity, this is precisely what we have, regardless if the church communicates this truth directly or not! In other words, God realizes that from the womb to the tomb we cannot ever be perfect enough to meet his demands no matter how hard we try. Therefore, out of his own mercy he earns our favor and way into his kingdom for us. The only catch is that we must be broken enough to accept this reality.
Once again, so much of what we are “taught” in life is about working hard or “putting on airs,” or even holding on! Again, if one is honest, no amount of hard work or holding on can possibly suffice with a God who would be capable of creating all of this, so it has to be about letting go, and accepting His works and or righteousness in place of our own (justification by faith.) Often well-meaning if not somewhat arrogant people in the so-called church will call this “cheap grace,” because of its lack of works. Nevertheless, it is really only “cheap” if its origin is found in man. What I am referring to here, comes from a God who is outside the universe itself (outside of space and time) and is therefore not controlled by the laws of man, nor given over to man’s philosophy of work.
The bottom line is that when we begin to truly accept and understand the reality of God’s grace, we then become a true place of rest for others because we realize that God out of his mercy gives us rest, and therefore we are less apt to hurt and judge others within the church. The act of “hurting” members of the church, if one is honest enough usually comes out of an ignorant or even willful allegiance to a “works” or “performance” based theology that in one way or another “puffs up and blinds,” rather than “builds up and uncovers” as a “Grace” or Bible based theology does. (Be careful)
If the Christian church is to regain its influence in American life then it must diminish its allegiance to the institutional and theological systems that represent God, and instead embrace God and His Word directly. Understanding that such institutions and theology are a guide, not a substitute for knowing God. In truly embracing God, the church will once again confront the reality of His only begotten Son and in so doing its members will be transformed bit by bit into representatives of his grace or “The Good News” rather than in a failed and grotesque human system of grace plus works.
Because of what is most likely coming to America, we will begin to understand this truth. After the approaching times of trouble, if the United States is to be great again, she will have to “be put back together” by people of Grace. Article 5 people article five. [email protected]