–May of 2000
Pollsters of every sort are needling the church by claiming that Christians today are lying, cheating, stealing and committing fornication at the same rate as non Christians. I am not sure whom these pollsters are surveying, but in the community of saints with which I am privileged to have fellowship, this would certainly not be the case. The vast majority of the Christians I know could well be described in the words of Paul, “…if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
Why then are the pollsters taunting us with such nonsense as Christian-liars and sensual-saints? That answer is not too difficult. They simply expect the church to be different and are bitterly disappointed when they survey church-going people who are not! My belief is that they are surveying mostly people who have only identified with the Church, but have never experienced the real, radical, transforming power of saving grace. These people don’t have a clue as to how God’s grace can and will make a difference. The pulpit voice they listen to is failing them.
What troubles me even more than this is the shallow, watery, weak-willed, entry-level commitment that has produced a community of saints who have ceased to talk about how God is impacting their lives through His Word. Testimonies are silent about how God is altering the essence and expression of both the content and context of their lives through their daily contact with scripture and the work of the Holy Spirit. Very little is being said about how God is putting them in a narrow place to convict and conform them to the likeness of Christ. I see this as the scourge and the curse of the church today. These warm-hearted souls who do know the saving grace of Jesus, who have ceased their sinning and going astray, have for some reason or the other failed to understand the extreme importance of allowing the Word of God to fill their minds and flow out of their lives. They are not experiencing regular change and conformity to Christ through the power of the Word. Their lives are almost totally barren of personal convictions, codes of conduct and moral values that flow out of the study and application of biblical principles.
The Lord Jesus told the church that she was to be salt to a world that has no seasoning and light to a world that is in terrible darkness. Both of these are change agents and both bring a stark contrast to what is there. We cannot change the world, nor make a profound moral influence on the society around us, if the principles of the Bible are not trickling down through our lives, formulating values, convictions and codes of behavior that visibility affect the way we live. The world expects and should expect to see a way of living that squares with scripture.
It is imperative that as Christians we allow what we know and believe to trickle down and transform the way we live our lives. We have to get our theology out of the ivory towers of scholasticism. It has to leave the four walls of our local church. It has to go beyond pulpit pounding and Sunday School discussions. We cannot live it in that secret place of daily devotion. It has to become an inseparable part of who we are. It has to make its way into the market place, the factory and into the homes of our friends and neighbors that do not know Jesus. If it does not, the Church collectively and the Christian individually will be as the salt that lost its savor and the light that was hidden under a basket. We will have only a form of godliness that is empty of power.
One of the beautiful sights in northern Israel is snow-covered Mt. Hermon. The snow that falls on the majestic head of Mt. Hermon melts and works its way down the crevices of that old mountain, forming streams, creeks, and rivers that empty into the Sea of Galilee. From the Sea of Galilee, the country of Israel pumps millions of gallons of water as far away as the plains of Jordan around the Dead Sea. The water transforms that barren wilderness into lush gardens filled with date palms, banana trees and beautiful flowers. One could literally say that the snow that fell on Mt. Hermon grew an orchid near the shores of the Dead Sea.
The wonderful truths that are found in God’s Word should be working their way down through the soul of our being and out into our lives in such a way as to change the moral landscape all around us. I believe good theology and real Christianity has a trickle-down effect.