A newspaper in Atlanta once reported that when a Catholic woman was marrying a Muslim man, they decided to split the difference and get married in a Methodist church, where the minister was only too happy to blend together Catholicism with Islam to keep everybody happy. Similarly, a Christian ministerial association in Boston welcomed a practicing witch into its fellowship since, as one Episcopal priest put it, “We don’t discriminate on the basis of creed.” Welcome to convenient, tolerant, and accommodating modern Christianity!
We are living in this time of church history that must accurately be characterized as that era of a widespread, rampant and devastating:
However, it has gone much further than simply preaching and believing in convenient religion. We are in a day when multitudes are having preached to them week in and week out:
The huge problem with all of this is that:
“CHRISTIAN TRUTH IS NEVER PRIMARILY OR EVEN ESSENTIALLY CONVENIENT.”
Truth, i.e. the truth of Christianity, always carries in its core far too great a severity to be compatible with human convenience. Just ask Jesus Christ! Just ask the martyrs through the ages. Just ask the true disciples of Jesus Christ.
However, we are being led to feel today that Christ did all of the suffering, while we are to have all the pleasuring. A big fat lie! Truth always is rooted in and takes us on the rough and tough path of self-denial and duty, which things are the complete antithesis to human convenience and pleasure. In short, when it comes to following Christ, i.e. following the Truth, there really is no such thing as “Convenient Religion” or “Convenient Truth.”
Frankly, when convenience becomes the hallmark of religion, we are then going to be involved in a false religion that is always made up of:
The grave danger in all of this is the fact that convenient religion and convenient lies are as easy to fall into as falling off a balance beam in the Olympics. Why?
“BECAUSE CONVENIENT RELIGION AND CONVENIENT LIES ARE HONEY TO A
MAN’S MOUTH, EVEN THOUGH THEY ARE POISONOUS
TO HIS SPIRITUAL GUTS
Not hard to understand is the fact that in most people’s experience, religionized untruth is very difficult to detect at first view, because it is as desirable as it is deceitful. Convenient religion today is luring multitudes to mistake impostors for prophets on a massive scale.
Second, convenient religion and convenient lies are being widely embraced because:
“NOTHING FOR MAN CAN BE TOO PROFITABLE AND TOO PLEASURABLE,
BUT MANY THINGS CAN BE FAR TOO TRUE.
Did you get that? That is as plain as you can state it! All of us by nature have a sweet tooth not only for chocolates, but for convenient religion. We want to customize everything to our liking, and that includes religion. We have an old saying that says, “Sweets for the sweet.” Of course! Our taste buds demand it! If you will:
“MAN BELIEVES CONVENIENT LIES TO BE TRUTH SIMPLY BECAUSE HE
LIKES THEIR TASTE
If you will:
“MAN BELIEVES CONVENIENT LIES TO BE THE TRUTH SIMPLY BECAUSE
HE WOULD HAVE THEM TO BE SO.
Third, we must remember also that man by nature has the strong propensity to conveniently read and hear what he wants to read and hear, and disregard the rest. Convenient selective listening. He conveniently often misses the true point of things.
I am reminded of the preacher who was speaking on the evils of drinking liquor. He was emphasizing also the sinful squandering of money on booze at local bars and saloons. He bellowed, “When you spend all of that money at the bar, who gets rich?” The people responded, “The bar owner!” He continued, “Who has the biggest house?” Again the people shouted back, “The bar owner!” Once again, “Who has the finest furs and jewelry?” The audience, catching the drift of his intent, screamed back, “The bar owner’s wife!” Then he asked, “And who pays for all of this?” They answered, “We do!”
A few days later a husband and wife who had been in the audience met the preacher on the street and congratulated him on his wonderful speech. He thanked them and said, “I’m pleased to see that you have given up drinking.” They said, “Well, not exactly, we bought a saloon.”
I. CHRISTIANITY’S INCONVENIENT DUTIES
If people allow themselves to listen to even a little of what is being passed off on folks as Christianity today, they would soon conclude that the message of Christ is wine and roses, health and wealth, and let the good times roll.
Not only that, but if we follow that Convenient Christ and send in our money to religious flim flam artists and profiteers, we will be lead into a world of Lion King’s HAKUNA MATATA. Remember? It was in that Walt Disney film that a meerkat named Timon and a warthog named Pumba consoled a lion cub named Simba with a song that celebrated their problem-free philosophy. HAKUNA MATATA is Swahili which means most literally: NO WORRIES, or, NO CONCERNS HERE. Millions of people came to watch a film that took them into a fantasyland of no problems and no worries for the rest of their lives. They are pouring into modern churches for the same reason.
Hakuna Matataism could very well be called the theology of much of modern so-called Christianity. There are vast numbers of media preachers and mega-church pastors who constantly preach Hakuna Matataism to their TV audiences and their local congregations. They just do not call it that, but that is exactly what it is. Today’s Hakuna Matata Preachers tell their followers that if they give generously enough, if they believe strongly enough, if they command authoritatively enough, and if they talk positively enough, they can turn their meagerness into wealth, their disease into ease, their negatives into positives, and make all of the rough places in their lives smooth. Timon and Pumba were right, it is no passing craze. It is spreading across the land as you read this teaching, and hundreds of thousands are massing around these CONVENIENT LIES.
When the fact of the matter is that the Christian practices and duties to which the authentic Christ calls us are anything but convenient. In fact, Christ’s teachings are most often not only strange and unusual to the human mind, they are even unpleasantly grating and chaffing. People, when they heard them, were and still are not inclined to fly to but from the severity of His truths. Over and over again:
“JESUS’ TEACHINGS DO NOT SO MUCH SOOTHE AS THEY DO SHOCK; DO NOT SO
MUCH CALM AS THEY DO CONFOUND; DO NOT SO MUCH TEASE
AS THEY DO TERRIFY
That is the glaring antithesis between modern and Biblical Christianity. While much of modern Christianity majors in CONVENIENT LIES, Biblical Christianity majors in INCONVENIENT TRUTHS. Right here is where the rubber hits the road hard! If you are in a church that constantly soothes and consoles, it is modern Christianity. If you are in a church that constantly convicts and challenges, you are in Biblical Christianity. It is the difference between “Fat Butt” and “Kick Butt” religion.
Let’s take a look then at authentic Christianity and the authentic Christ’s INCONVENIENT TRUTH, in the event that we don’t even remember it anymore in the midst of the CONVENIENT LIES that are being promulgated in modern Christianity. The following list of inconvenient truths in Christianity is by no means an exhaustive lust, though it is illustrative.
Certainly not a human enticer, but rather most unappealing and threatening in its sound and requirement. In this age of secular and religious self-indulgence, this will lose audiences very quickly. It did when Jesus spoke it, and it does now. Jesus knew this, but He refused to shade the truth in order to get followers. He didn’t give a flip what the critics said. He wanted genuine disciples. Self-denial is the great, primary and all-comprehensive duty and practice commanded over and over again in Christ’s Gospel. So states Christ in Matthew 16:24,
“…If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take
up his cross and follow Me.
Words not glibly spoken, and not easily heard. And far more difficult to do! But the fact is that Jesus Christ here is the Master logician! He knows exactly what he is doing as always! Only those who are willing to deny themselves will take up their crosses for Christ. The cross of course speaks of death and martyrdom for Christ, but if we don’t deny ourselves, we will surely drop the cross. If we don’t deny ourselves, we will deny Him just as Peter did!
If you will, the way to find true and glorious life in Christ is to lose our lives for Christ. How is that for an inconvenient riddle? We read Christ’s famous words in Matthew 10:39, which rather than informing our understandings astonishes and confounds them:
“He who has found his life shall lose it,and he who has lost his life
for My sake shall find it
Surely what we have here is INCONVENIENT TRUTH if I have ever seen any! It is completely opposed to human nature, and everything in human nature is totally opposed to it. A lot of people in the world and in religion think they have found the good life. It is also known as the “American Dream.” Of course that good life means that it is good for me, myself and I. Jesus commands that we are to lose it! Tell it to get lost! It is fun to have, but in the final analysis worthless. If you will, turn your back on that self-pleasing life, and live to please Him only. If we do, then we have found real life that is all about Christ and not at all about us. For Christ alone is not only truth but life. (John 14:6) Or as the old and yet ever new truism goes:
“ONLY ONE LIFE ‘TWILL SOON BE PAST, ONLY WHAT’S DONE
FOR CHRIST WILL LAST
Then along comes modern Christianity with its CONVENIENT LIES. The emphasis here is not on SELF-DENIAL, but instead it is on SELF-LOVE and SELF-ADMIRATION and SELF-CELEBRATION. Along with all the other self-couplets that permeate convenient modern Christianity today, such as self-esteem, self-worth, self-indulgence, self-satisfaction, self-promotion, self-protection, and self-advancement. The human self eats all of this up and begs for more. And in modern Christianity there are always second and third helpings every Sunday morning in church. Slurp! Slurp! Chomp! Chomp! Followed by continuing large burps and belches of self-gases!
This is the SELFIANITY that has inundated modern Christianity. However, it is not BIBLICAL CHRISTIANITY at all. SELFIANITY is neither centrally nor peripherally the essence of the Bible or the Christian Gospel, though it is seductive, alluring, and very self-pleasing as all convenient lies are. Nowhere in the Bible are we commanded to love ourselves. Nowhere! It is simply assumed! So the Apostle Paul observes in Ephesians 5:29
“For no ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it…“
Because self-love sticks so close to man’s self-centered nature, neither regeneration nor sanctification can separate him from it or it from him.
Jesus didn’t command that we love ourselves, but he did command that we love our neighbors. We remember his exact words in Matthew 22:39,
“…You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Christ knew that self-love abounds and sticks to us like gobs of glue, so that He could safely entrust our neighbors and their needs to us, if we simply use the standard of self-love as a measure and guide. If we all loved our neighbors near and far as we love ourselves, it would end all war, starvation and hopelessness around the world. Without a doubt!
“SELF-DENIAL IN BIBLICAL CHRISTIANITY IS THE MAJOR THEME, AND
SELF-LOVE IS A VERY MINOR THEME
“SELF-LOVE IN MODERN CHRISTIANITY IS THE MAJOR THEME,
AND SELF-DENIAL IS A VERY MINOR THEME
The former is founded upon INCONVENIENT TRUTH. The latter is founded upon CONVENIENT LIES. What are you pushing in your church, self-denial or self-love. If it is the former, don’t lose it. If is the latter, lose it!
As a matter of fact, the Bible makes it crystal clear that self-love in the final stages of human history will inundate the human race like a killing tsunami, so that it will be the number one danger to and destroyer of mankind. Yes you are reading correctly. We find in II Timothy 3:1-2,
“But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men
will be lovers of self
The word difficult here most literally means dangerous. Then what follows is a list of rotten stuff that reads like the characters in the film Godfather – money lovers…unholy…unloving…without self-control…brutal…haters of good…treacherous etc. Yeesh! All of that foulness flows from the MAFIA DON of all sins – SELF-LOVE! Amazing really, but it is this end- time excessive and obsessive self-love that actually makes people mean and unloving. How do you like those self-love apples?
In short, self-love and self-obsession are in fact the great strongholds which the Christian Gospel is set against, and seeks to bring down. For the fact is:
“THERE CAN BE NO FILLING OF THE HUMAN HEART WITH CHRIST’S LOVE
WHEN IT IS ALREADY FULL OF SELF-LOVE
As already alluded to, Christians are not only commanded by Christ to deny themselves, but to take up their crosses as a way of life and if needs be death. We read of this over and over again in the Gospel of Christ, such as we find in Mark 8:34,
“…If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself, and take
up his cross, and follow me
Here then are the hugely INCONVENIENT FACTS, namely:
“ONLY THOSE WHO SAY NO TO SELF AS A WAY OF LIFE WILL BE ABLE
TO SAY YES TO THE CROSS AS A WAY OF DEATH.”
We cannot hang on to ourselves and self-interests and carry our crosses for Christ at the same time. Self is far too selfish and self-protecting for cross-bearing. Only those who deny self for Christ will be willing and able to live for Him and if needs be die for Him. He who is reluctant to deny himself for Christ will deny Christ to save his own neck. That is just the way it is!
The INCONVENIENT TRUTH that permeates Biblical Christianity is this:
“THERE IS NO SACRIFICE TOO GREAT FOR THE FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST
The CONVENIENT LIE that permeates modern Christianity is this:
“THERE IS NO BENEFIT TOO GREAT FOR THE FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST.“
Self-denial and cross-bearing were spoken of by our Lord before His own death on the cross. But His listeners must have caught at least some of the blunt force of what He was saying. Criminals and martyrs in the Roman Empire carried their crosses to their deaths. Therefore, following Jesus was no small decision or Sunday morning diversion from the rest of the week. It was not at all a convenient and harmless but satisfying sideline or hobby. It would cost His followers their lives. Christians in Moslem nations are proving this every day of our lives and every day of their deaths. It will come to America sooner than anyone of us think. Obama will lead the way.
The cross embodies the persecution, abuse, and suffering to death that the world heaped upon the Son of God, and which the world will heap on all of those who choose to stand up for Christ against the tide.Jesus Himself would soon become the literal illustration of cross-bearing. Like Master, like servants! All of his disciples, except Judas, would eventually follow in his footsteps in one bloody way or another.
Jesus wanted His listeners to think through the cost of discipleship before they made a commitment to Him. Those who leap before they look and do not count the cost will be the most likely ones not to stay the course. Those who are being lured into this modern, convenient and bless-me oriented pseudo-discipleship that is so prevalent today will make a commitment for all of the wrong reasons. It will be superficial and temporal! It will not be a following of Christ but of the loaves that He multiplies. Those who follow after Jesus for the loaves will turn out to be loafers. They will follow Him for perks and not from passion. They are the ones who follow Jesus primarily for what they can get from Him, rather than for what they can give back to Him for His great salvation. Once they get wind of what they have really gotten themselves into, they will be blown away like chaff from wheat. They will not be worth their salt! They won’t last!
We know the words again all too well. We read the words of Jesus in Luke 9:23,
“…If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself, and take
up his cross daily, and follow me
Of course, when He says follow me, He is not commanding us to follow Him around on the dusty trails of Judea and Galilee. That would make no sense, for then we could not be followers of Jesus Christ. Rather, He is commanding us to OBEY HIM! That is what it means to follow Jesus. Short and simple! Learn from Him! Do as He does! Imitate Him! Obey his instructions, and why not when everything else has failed in our lives?
In this regard, do you want to see how DISOBEDIENT CONVENIENT LIES operate in modern religious people’s lives?
One day, some of the young people got their nerve up and went to talk to the two youth workers in their church. Both of the youth workers were single, but they were living together, mind you! All of the young people knew about it of course. They awkwardly asked the two of them, “Don’t you feel just a little bit funny?” The two church youth workers responded, “Funny about what?” The young people said, “Well, you know, living together.” “Not at all,” they said, “we don’t claim to be disciples; we just claim to be Christians.” Of course that is a distinction never made in the Bible. You can’t be a Christian without being a disciple of Jesus Christ. Except in the two youth leader’s minds! It was a lie, but surely a convenient one to accommodate their sins and salve what was left of their consciences.
I know of many examples in churches of long-standing historic Christian denominations where adult couples who are not married but are living together hold positions of leadership in the church and have done so for many years. They are encouraged by the pastor to get married, as if that were only a viable option. But in the meantime they are living in sexual immorality and are made to feel that they are okay and the church is okay with it. Modern pseudo-Christianity’s CONVENIENT LIES!
It all finally hits home like a volley of incoming missiles in what we may well call “Christ’s Military Service Manual” recorded in Matthew 10. Whoa! Once you read it thoroughly, you may have to take a lot of time before you enlist in His army, that is, if you ever do! There isn’t one convenience to be found on any page, not even in the footnotes. Not even close! All inconveniences! Strange recruitment tactics to say the least! Like what He says in Matthew 10:9-10,
“Do not acquire gold, or silver, or copper for your money belts, or a bag for your
journey, or even two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for the
worker is worthy of his support
Is He serious? No acquiring of gold and silver? Human tendency would be to first go out and makes some bucks for not only necessities but some spending money. Jesus says, “No!” Most folks I know would not consider following Christ a golden opportunity. Furthermore, most modern Christians are not only concerned about present necessities but future contingencies. They will wait until they have financially secured their future before going all out for Christ. Nope! There goes the false prosperity-gospel right out of the barrack’s windows. This sounds not only inconvenient, but like cruel and unusual punishment. No, for you see, conveniences in civilian life are nothing but cumbersome in the military. Those things can no longer be our priorities when we enlist as Christian soldiers in Christ’s army. Either we are to take Jesus at His word, or don’t enlist!
Tunics were inner garments, and we are only to take one. It is like telling us not to take a change of underwear. Unthinkable for those who have a different pair of colorful silk undies for every day of the week if not for every day of the month! No bag either! If you will, we are soldiers now in the Kings army, so take your swords and leave your picnic baskets at home. Got it? None of these impediments to warfare allowed! In the Latin they are all called impedimetia bellica. Don’t go out and buy another pair of Florsheims either. No goody two-shoes are allowed! All of that to say:
“WE CANNOT BE PAMPERING OUR OWN BODIES WHILE WE ARE TRYING TO
SAVE OTHER PEOPLE’S SOULS.”
It won’t work. We cannot be physically prioritized and spiritually effective.
Well now soldiers of the cross, do you feel that you need some more INCONVENIENT TRUTH? Apparently so! Jesus prepares us for and encourages us in the midst of the cruelty that we shall meet in this world. He says in Matthew 10:16 in His army manual:
“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves….”
Man oh man, to be sent abroad into unknown places is bad enough. That is not only inconvenient but disconcerting to say the least. But to send us as sheep to ravening wolves that have us listed as the main entrées on their daily menus, this is insanity. All the more so when you think about the fact that one wolf is able to destroy an entire flock of sheep. But here we are told about us the sheepfold being sent to an entire wolf-pack. At the least we should go in camouflage don’t you think? After all:
“FOR ANYONE TO EXPECT FAVOR AMONGST FURIOUS, REMORSELESS
WOLVES MUST CEASE BEING A SHEEP
The choice is clear. We can out of personal convenience deny our Shepherd, or in this hostile and anti-Christian world, to our own personal inconvenience, confess and own Christ as our great and only Shepherd. It always comes down to convenient lies or inconvenient truth. Always!
AN INCONVENIENT SUMMARY!
If we allow ourselves objectively to take an overall view of the duties that Christ taught us, nothing is designed for our convenience. Nothing! We are to take no thought for the morrow. (Matthew 6:34) Easier said than done! In fact, it leaves us by nature feeling very uneasy. We are to renounce all of the enjoyment of the things which were made only to be enjoyed in the first place. (Matthew 19:27, I Timothy 6:17) We are commanded by Jesus not to resist hurt or defend ourselves, but if we are smacked on one cheek, to turn and offer the other cheek as well. (Matthew 5:39) Jesus is not being cheeky here. He is being Himself and as always He never preached what He didn’t practice. And while they are clobbering you, if they rob you and rip the shirt off your back, give them your suit coat as well. (Matthew 5:40)
While our society makes a god out of human rights, Jesus enjoins His followers to relinquish them. No wonder preachers are inventing a much more convenient Christ and Christianity to be compatible with our human-rights society. Rights are not only the main themes of modern society, but of modern Christianity in case you haven’t noticed. Human rights have trumped moral right.
Furthermore, we may not allow ourselves to fall into petty anger, or we will be guilty of murder. (Matthew 5:21-22) And mind you, for every hurtful and degrading word spoken to or about our brother such as “Empty Head” or “Good For Nothing” or “Fool,” we shall then be guilty and worthy of eternal torment. (Matthew 5:22) Do you see any convenient loopholes here?
CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT – OUCH!
Hear this loud and clear:
“BIBLICAL CHRISTIANITY IS DESIGNED FOR CHRISTIAN CHARACTER AND NOT
FOR HUMAN CONVENIENCE.”
“MODERN CHRISTIANITY IS DESIGNED FOR HUMAN CONVENIENCE AND NOT
FOR CHRISTIAN CHARACTER
Any honest study of the Bible will easily bring us to the clear conclusion that the Christian life in essence is all about the development of CHRISTIAN CHARACTER. That is, becoming like Christ in our thinking, our desiring, our actions, and our reactions. Christlikeness! Being conformed to the image of God’s Son! (Romans 8:29) That is the main and ultimate purpose in God’s salvation plan for us in Christ. No doubt about it! Yes, He came to save us from sin, but only as a means to a greater end! We surely can’t have all of that sin gunk hanging all over us while He is trying to mold us into His image. If He is going to paint us, He must start with a clean canvas.
However, character development is never convenient! As a matter of fact, it is absolutely inconvenient if not down-right painful at times! Growing pains! God has His way of showing us our rough edges, our unsightly protrusions, and our stubborn knots of rebellion. And then He goes to work on us with the hammer, saw, and sandpaper of His Word, Spirit and designed providence. Ouch! Not convenient! He gives us hard-to-love people to practice on, in case you haven’t noticed. How are you fairing these days with these exasperating folks who are His carpentry tools to build you into His Son’s image? How about Miss Sandpaper who is your boss at work? As she rubs you the wrong way, are your showing her Christ in action? Shazam!
In this regard, Hugh Hewitt in his book entitled BLOG makes an interesting point. He indicates how often in an editorial, a news story, or a report on a storied person in the news, the journalists will often “Bury The Main Point” if it doesn’t agree with their world and life view. They will bury the most important fact or message deep in the body of the story so that very few will get it. And if they cannot hide it, they will distort it. This is better known today as “Media Bias.” And if you haven’t noticed, you had better take your vital signs. The media today is so slanted to the left, that it even reports with a limp. Hugh Hewitt calls this “Burying The Lead” when in fact the “lead” should lead the story.
Why would journalists and newscasters do that? Very simple! If the “Main Point” or “Lead Person” in a message or story does not fit their agenda or ideology, it must not be allowed to receive central focus. So it is in modern Christianity! Convenience must always be the message, even if it is a lie. It appeals to the masses and draws larger followings. It is seeker friendly! So today in huge segments of the contemporary church scene, character has been buried under cash, righteousness has been buried under riches, morality has been buried under money, and Divine musts have been buried under humanistic mush. If you will, inconvenient truth has been buried under huge landfills of convenient lies. Welcome to modern Christianity!
It reminds me of the housing mess in America? How in the world in historically the most prosperous nation on earth have house foreclosures now far out-distanced house openings? I will tell you how! CONVENIENT LIES! Who told them? Well to begin with, greed-driven bankers and fraudulent mortgage lenders. The Devil is in the details and the fine print, which naïve and oblivious house-buyers failed to read carefully or perhaps didn’t even read at all, let alone understand. Nor were the mortgagees thoroughly and honestly educated and forewarned by the mortgagers. It all seemed so easy! It was, far too easy! When all the while they were blowing up mortgage balloons that would explode in their faces! It all was made to sound like a subprime paradise which soon became the Hell of paradise lost, i.e. lost homes and lifetime savings.
But the CONVENIENT LIES were not simply told by the lenders. It is also true that home buyers and mortgage receivers, i.e. the lendees, contributed their share to the greatest housing fraud in American history. It is a proven fact that many mortgage buyers lied by overstating their incomes and their assets. There are even today crooked companies that will print counterfeit pay receipts so that the mortgagee can bamboozle the mortgager about his manageable debt load. I guess we could call them CONVENIENT LIAR LOANS in either case.
Well folks, we not only have a “Housing Mess” in America, but we also have a “House of God Mess.” CONVENIENTLY FALSIFIED RELIGION. Abortions are being validated in the name of Christ. Homosexuality and same sex marriages are being not only embraced but promoted by major denominations. Embryonic stem cell research is being encouraged by church leaders. Many denominations and sects approve smoking marijuana for medical purposes. Alcohol consumption is not only being widely practiced in ecclesiastical social drinking, but booze is now being served at church picnics. Adultery, divorce and remarriage barely raise ecclesiastical eyebrows any longer.
The world’s value system has been totally embraced by the church, so that it is no longer possible to distinguish between the heathen culture and modern Christianity. Heresy correctors and truth crusaders are being castigated as heretic hunters, sort of like bounty hunters. Preachers are telling us that we should not call people sinners, and that we should not threaten people with Hell. Not only that, but people are really not depraved, just disabled. Preaching on the Ten Commandments is now called legalism in the church. In short, much of modern Christianity has written over its door:
“FOR YOUR CONVENIENCE.”
II. CHRISTIANITY’S INCONVENIENT DOCTRINES
At least, not convenient to the human intellect! That is why most of the world rejects them, because they simply don’t jive with natural reason. Even though that same world will believe in a completely chance and random “Big Bang Theory” as the cause for all of the transcendent beauty and order in the universe. (It is also called “The Super Dense Theory” because you have to be super dense to believe it.)
But the truth remains, that Christianity is in fact, from a human reason perspective, totally paradoxical. Both in its duties and doctrines, true Christianity does not so much inform human intellect as it does astound and astonish it. Now we are talking Biblical Christianity!
I mean to tell you! To start with, Biblical Christianity believes in the God Who is eternally and indivisibly One, but at the same time believes that there are three persons in that one God each of which is truly and fully Divine. No, not three Gods, for that would be Tritheism. But three Divine persons in one God, for that is Trinitarianism! Of course, we are tipped off early on in the Bible that this is not your everyday, simplistic and rationally convenient God. We read in Genesis 1:26,
“Then GOD said, let US make man in OUR image….”
Are you kidding me? One God talking in the plural – US! Jesus Christ states it as clearly as anywhere in the Bible when He commands us in Matthew 28:19,
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the
NAME of the FATHER and the SON and the
One God and and yet three persons not with different names but a TRI-NAME? To be able to get all of this all into our heads is like trying to stuff an ocean into a thimble. To deny the Trinity is to lose one’s soul, but to try and understand it is to lose one’s mind.
The other major religions of the world embrace no such thing as a Triune God. Judaism and Islam deny it, and Hinduism has so many gods they wouldn’t know what to do with another one, let alone a triune one. The major cults such as Jehovah’s Witness, Mormonism, and Christian Science repudiate the Trinity. It doesn’t compute with the human intellect either, so all in all can’t we just tone this thing down to be able to relate better to the world and the other world religions?
This is already being done, as prominent TV ministers now teach that God simply functions in three different ways, or that God manifests Himself in three different manners. You see, His paternal side, His filial side, and His spiritual side. Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier! Not three distinct persons in the one Godhead! No, no! Just three different ways of relating to mankind! A tri-functional God! A tri-manifestational God! A very adaptable God! He will be most anything we want Him to be. This is a much more convenient God for man’s little pea brain, and at the same time this builds a bridge to the other world religions.
All nothing more or less than CONVENIENT LIES! After all, I have various functional aspects to my being as well. I function as a husband, a father, and a grandfather etc. I manifest myself differently too – the fella you see on the pulpit, the fella my wife sees at home, and then there is that obsessive fanatic at a football game etc. We all are relationally diverse and manifestationally varied. But my different functions and manifestations do not make me God, any more than God having different functions and manifestations makes Him man. That all has absolutely nothing to do with His being the Triune God! The “Trinity” is not a description of function or manifestation, but of eternal essential being – essence! He is and has been and will forever be the one true God in three distinct persons.
I intellectually cannot comprehend this mystery. I can only worship Him with the spirit of submission and wonder, all the while bowing my inconvenienced reason before His throne, and cry with the angels in Isaiah 6:3,
“…Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory.”
Allow me briefly one more, but we could go on and on, for all of the “Loci” in Biblical Systematic Theology these days are up for grabs. Are you ready for this? Not only is true Divinity Trinitarian, but the second person of the Trinity is both eternal God and incarnate man. Here we go again! I mean, how else could Jesus Christ die for our sins? Only a finite man could die for another man’s evil. He has to become man, yet without sin, to be able to save others from theirs. Most unbelievers even believe that Jesus really walked the earth, and that He was a very good man.
However, only God could say what He said and do what He said He would do in John 2:19 referring to His mortal body:
“…Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
Jesus knew exactly what He is saying here. Don’t miss it! He could have said that after He died, “The Father will raise Me from the dead.” But if that alone was the case, it would have not have proven Him to be God, but only a resurrected man. It would not prove Him to be God the eternal Son! However, when He states and actually did what He said He would do, “I will raise it (His bodily temple) up,” He therefore was declaring that he had a Divine nature besides His human nature, and He proved it! Dead humans don’t raise themselves from the dead! Game! Set! Match!
Of course, none of this is again intellectually convenient. None of it! Periodically you will hear someone suggest that religious experts be summoned – the best religious minds in the world. The idea is always roughly: “Let’s come together, and recognize that there are over 300 different denominations in the U.S. alone and counting. In the world, there are perhaps 5000 and counting. Come settle the differences and create the best religion that everyone can accept. After all, this stuff about Jesus the God-Man drying for sinners and rising from the dead makes Him look far too bazaar and us far too bad.” There you go! Salvation by committee! Salvation by consensus! Salvation by convenience! Come up with something far less rediculous. CONVENIENT LIES!
TED THE HEAD TURNER
You may recall the world meeting in New York not so many years ago at the United Nations. It was financed substantially by Mr. Ted Turner. Ted Turner, mind you, proposed a world type of religion, a New Age type of religion – not a narrow religion, but a broad one. Much more intellectual longitude and latitude! Room for everyone to religiously roam! Less specific and more generic! Not connected at the head but at the heart. CONVENIENT LIES! He said that as a boy he wanted to be a Christian missionary, and he was quite confident that as that boy he was in fact a Christian. But he later outgrew all that kind of thing. You may recall that he is also the one who later in his life spoke of Christians as losers.
Well then, there you have it! We could go on and on, but time and space do not permit. In the midst of CONVENIENT FALSE RELIGION, the clarion cry has gone out to pastors to preach faithfully INCONVENIENT TRUE CHRISTIANITY. Let us repent (which is never convenient) of preaching convenient lies, and begin anew to preach the inconvenient truths of Christian doctrine and discipleship. Most of what people are excited about in modern Christianity is convenient trivia, and what the Bible is excited about is inconvenient truth. What excites you? What are you preaching about these days?
HOUND DOG ELVIS
In 1956 Elvis Presley recorded seventeen titles that made the charts, including five number ones. So phenomenal was the impact he had on the music world that song writers would do almost anything to get him to record one of their numbers. Two young song writers, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, had a rather trite and frivolous composition which they called Hound Dog. Interestingly, Mike Stoller was one of the blessed survivors from the sinking of the Italian liner “Andrea Doria.” Landing back in New York after the ordeal, he found his colleague, Jerry Leiber, waiting on the dockside to greet him. But Leiber’s mind was on more pressing matters than his friend’s escape from the clutches of the deep. Leiber’s first words to Stoller were, “Elvis Presley has recorded Hound Dog! Elvis Presley has recorded Hound Dog.” Whoopee! We can imagine, or can we anymore, how Mike Stoller felt about such a frivolous and insensitive welcome when he had just been graciously and marvelously saved from certain death!
The choices these days are glaring in their contrast, aren’t they?. We can either join the religious children of modernity and get all stirred up about convenient trivia. Or we can join the saints of the ages and be humbled and awed by the wonders of inconvenient truth. You Ain’t Nothing But A Hound Dog, or, Only A Sinner Saved By Grace. Amen!