When the Son of Man Comes, Will He Find Faith On the Earth?
........As I run this race that God has set before me I grow more and more perplexed at Christianity. For many years I have fought the idea of what I call 'greasy grace' and I have fought it hard. I've adopted the phrase I hate exercising futility and often refuse to do so once I determine the futility in whatever (or whoever) it is that I'm facing. Yet, there are some things God puts before us that require us to push on regardless of the nature of the people we are dealing with.
........In the last few years the term 'greasy grace' has lost its meaning. It is even worse than greasy grace now so I must change the term to fit the surroundings. I now label it as 'sleazy grace.' What have we become?
........It is good that many of the rigid rules in the church have gone by the wayside. I'm referring to things like those silly little rules that were widespread, such as a woman wearing makeup or jewelry to church; watching people flip out if someone came into the church not dressed a certain way or fitting a certain standard that people required of anyone who crossed the threshold of their beloved little building with the steeple on top. Yet, where have we taken this now?
........Traveling as we do across the country affords us the opportunity to visit many churches and I can testify that I have seen the changes. Truly living day to day wherever the Lord leads us allows us to meet many folks as they loudly (and some not so loudly) proclaim their Christianity. Unfortunately it also allows us to view the way people actually live. My heart is broken and even more my heart is burdened down with a weight that I cannot even begin to explain, but I will try.
........Just the other day I was walking into Wal-Mart with Jennifer and we witnessed something amazing. Some white man was railing on a black woman and saying very unkind things to her. Amazingly the only retort that I heard from the woman was, “God bless you.” That didn’t stop the man from railing and I was about to step into the fray and tell the man to chill out. As I stepped towards them the woman added to her retort saying, "God bless you, you sorry Moth….F…..!" This stopped me dead in my tracks as this was yet one more example of Christianity that I have witnessed since returning to Atlanta. Now I know folks will think this doesn’t describe a Christian, but then we need a reality check here. The reason these people think that they can act this way as a Christian is because they are being taught that their behavior has no real bearing on their Christianity.
........I'm sure many people on this board would agree that one of the greatest problems with Catholicism is the worship of Mary. The official church dogma proclaims they do not worship Mary, but only venerate her. The problem with this is that anyone that knows Catholic faithful… they also know that when they pray to Mary it has gone well beyond veneration and is in fact worship. Regardless of the official Catholic Church stance on this issue the people hear it a different way. It is the same in our churches today. You will hear from the pulpits across this nation that committing acts of sin is wrong. What you will also hear in the majority of those pulpits… the added word 'but.' There is a line or two in a sermon speaking of how sin is wrong and then line after line comes after the word 'but.
But... we're only human.
But… all of us will sin.
But… Jesus paid for all our sins -- past, present and future.
........In the end all the people hear is that they shouldn’t, BUT they can.
........Try this with your own children. Tell him or her they shouldn’t have sex until they are married, but if they do have sex before marriage that’s okay. Tell them they shouldn’t do drugs or drink, but since you are a child and only human you are going to do drugs and drink anyway, so I have already forgiven you for this. Tell your child they should never lie, but when they do lie you understand because they are just sinners anyway. None of you (hopefully) would ever raise your own child with such foolish notions, and yet in the church that is the message the congregation is too often hearing.
........Last night a most interesting thing happened here. We are helping to care for an elderly lady in the campground. She is handicapped and virtually crippled and facing surgery to her shoulders because of tissue degeneration, thus making things much more difficult for her. We were sitting with her last night when a man who works for the campground stopped by. He is an ordained minister who happened to be drunk when he stopped by, which is a common thing for him. Before he left he said a prayer. Had he been praying in church people would have loudly proclaimed, “AMEN!” Had he been in the church and not drunk, and had people not dealt with this guy on a daily basis, they would have thought this was truly a man of God to pray such a heart-felt and fiery prayer! But out of this same man’s mouth I have heard vile language and seen him commit violent acts. For him drunkenness is a way of life. All the while this man thinks he is a testimony for the Lord. He thinks he is on the path to that narrow gate and never for a minute does he think he will not enter.
........We pastor’s have failed and the fruit of that failure can be seen every day. Not what we see in the church because everyone is on their best behavior on Sunday! The fruit of this failure is seen in the homes of people that no one in your church knows. It can be seen in the parking lot of Wal-Mart. It is seen in their cars as they are stuck in traffic. It is seen on the walls of their own homes and places of work. It is seen in the erased history of their computers. It is seen in a lot of places but most of all it IS seen by God. When I was in the Military there was a charge that no one wanted levied against them and that was dereliction of duty. This charge would, and rightly so, end your military career. In the church… this is a charge that could be, and should be, charged against pastors across the country. We are not doing the charge that God has placed before us. We have become shepherds of the flock and the flock has become fat off the junk that we have fed it.
........I should end this with something positive and yet here I sit typing and can’t think of much positive to end it with. The state of the church is horrifying. I do now understand what Jesus meant when He asked, “However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?" Yet for the sake of something I will post a passage that I push on this message board on a very regular basis. If you are a pastor… follow this. If you are part of the congregation… follow this.
2 Peter 1:1-11
1 Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ:
2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord;
3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.
4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.
5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge;
6 and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness;
7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.
8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.
10 Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble;
11 for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.
........Like Peter I feel I must constantly remind people of this because this is truly checking to see if you really are in the faith. Forget eternal security or not. Forget predestination or free-will. Forget what denomination you are in. All that stuff just clouds our thinking and ultimately we simply have a form of godliness but we deny the power therein.
........This is my duty.