Making it difficult

Why is it that we always want to make the easy difficult?

This morning I was reading this. Last night I was reading this. I was reminded that the ease of becoming a Christian has been made remarkably difficult by the American church.

Shame on us for turning the free gift of God into an institutionalized morass that condemns people to hell. Shame on us for turning the very ones who need salvation away by our pretentious religiosity. Shame on us for refusing to believe the Word and its promise. Shame on us for generating volumes of word, written and spoken, but refusing to take action.

As Gomer Pyle would say, “shame, shame, shame!”

2 responses to “Making it difficult

  1. The “ease of becoming a Christian?” Why then did Jesus tell his followers to count the cost? It’s a free gift, but free and easy are two different things!

    True, your verses do say “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.” But there’s the rub, isn’t it? Since unbelievers are (as we all were) dead in our sins and trespasses, we can’t just believe. And not just that we can’t: we won’t. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem… How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!”

    Note here that I’m not saying we fellow sinners should make it hard, but that God allows it to be hard for His own good purposes. It’s hard to honestly confront yourself with your sinfulness, realize that you really have nothing to offer God, and accept God’s gift of salvation. In fact, it’s not hard: it’s impossible. We can’t, and won’t do it on our own, unless God changes our hearts.

    And what brings this change about? The very next verse holds the key: “And they shared the word of the Lord with him and with all who lived in his household.” That’s why I believe so passionately that sharing the Word of God is the only way that people’s hearts are truly converted. Self-help won’t do it, and cool music and videos won’t do it.

    Now, I 100% agree with you that we should not throw up unnecessary road blocks to people hearing that Word of God. To that end, denominations can be a definite road block, as can certain church organizational and liturgical structures. But the Word has to be preached, front, center, and always: only it will bring people to the place where they can accept God’s free gift.

  2. Gary,

    The Word is the only thing that matters in all of this. Without it everything else falls flat on its face. It challenges, it convicts, it divides, it destroys and it saves. There is no “easy” entry into the Kingdom, that is, it demands dying to everything else and being ressuscitated to a brand new way of life. There is no shortcut.

    On the other hand, it is very easy. There is nothing we have to achieve. We accept the gift by believing in the person and power of Jesus. At that point it is supposed to become really tough.

    Unfortunately, for the last several decades the American church has refused to believe or preach the hardship of the disciple’s walk. Hence today the church is castrated and ineffectual in making a difference.

    Jesus, and the Word, are clear: the life of the follower demands sacrifice and suffering. Anything less indicates that we aren’t a faithful follower. A follower of Jesus is an enemy of the Evil One. There is a constant war going on between the two. The Enemy will come after the disciple. If he doesn’t, perhaps that might indicate the lack of threat that individual poses to the kingdom of the Prince of the Air.

    If we preach anything less, we are bastardizing the Word, making it something it is not.

    Denominational dogma, theology and tradition, as well as church organization and liturgical structures are road blocks. If they hinder the preaching of the full Word, they must be jettisoned or minimalized to non-essential status. In the same manner, self-help, cool music and videos or anything else that is an end in and of itself is worthless. Both must be used as tools, not the final product.

    Bottom line: far too many churches see what they do as the end, not a means to the end. Regardless of who they are or where they are, shame on them.

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