“Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing his reproach.” (Hebrews 13:13)
When the Lord rode into Jerusalem on a colt, about a week before He would go to the cross, the people shouted and praised Him and spread palm branches and clothes in His path. (Matthew 21)
But the Lord knew that this would not last. He knew that He would soon hang on a cross outside the holy city. He would be despised and rejected of men. Cast out from the religious system and the world’s culture.
The Individual Calling of God
There is a reason that the Lord walked in a solitary way. It is because He chose to follow the Father’s will as opposed to the will of man. To the will of the world’s culture. And to the will of the popular religious culture.
Even opposed to what we would call popular or general Christian culture today.
So, when we look at most Christians today, they seem content to live in mediocrity. Content with whatever meal is dished out to them in church or thru the popular Christian media.
And when we speak of the deeper Christian life, I think many are kind of alarmed at the idea. That someone would even question if there is more than what is offered by the popular Christian culture.
Also, it is very unusual today when someone talks about an individual calling of God in his life. Such as when Abram was called to go out from his family and nation. To go out to a place that he didn’t know. To take his wife and servants and head out to what must have been unknown wilderness.
Out into an extremely dangerous wilderness.
Because today, everything is about doing stuff as a group. The church gets the idea we should focus on something and suddenly that’s IT. We’re all expected to get on board, sign up to help, and be all in — as the saying goes.
And sometimes that’s OK.
But in my experience, I have seen pastors get a notion of how God is leading them to start a special ministry or to start a new program. And, when the congregation doesn’t get enthusiastic about the idea, the pastor begins to preach against those who are not getting on board; questioning them on whether they are being led by the Spirit. Questioning if they are being disobedient to God by not joining with the group.
Although, most pastors won’t throw that so boldly in your face. Most are a bit more subtle. Most just work on the guilt factor. Or the love factor. Or the human-compassion factor.
That is the most effective way to get people on board today.
Jesus and Numbers
All of this reminds me of how many believed in his name when they saw the miracles which Jesus did.
But Jesus’ reaction to this is not what we would expect.
The Bible says, “But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men. And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.” (John 2:23-25). The Lord was not impressed with numbers or mass gatherings as our modern Evangelical culture is.
Jesus and Religious Conformity
And it seems that the Lord was always dealing with people that expected Him to go along with their gig. To sign on to whatever focus and observance they were putting forth.
Our modern churches are not all that different from the Temple system in Jesus’ day. In the same way, we are expected to get on board with the popular thinking and programs of the day. If we don’t or are hesitant, then the harmony/unity card is played.
It reminds me of the verse in Matthew where Jesus says, “But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented.“ (Matthew 11:16-17)
The point being, organizations, governments or the culture are always trying to get us into their programs. To go along with their plans. And to conform to their new ideas. To conform to their new ways of doing things.
As if new is automatically good.
Good Intentions VS Spiritual Obedience
Churches act as if their good intentions somehow make up for their unbiblical thinking. Or their unbiblical practices. As if, since they intend to do something good, then it’s OK.
Presuming that the Lord must be behind any good thing they decide to do..
We are expected to just support stuff because the leadership is at least trying to do a good thing. And, in our modern Christian culture, good intentions win out over good theology 99% of the time.
And when you don’t get on board, things tend to get ugly.
To Be Continued . . .
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