We are in desperate need of the simplicity of the Gospel and of the love of Jesus Christ. Read this by Art Katz:
I think we, every one of us, ought to be humiliated or humbled every time me pick up the book of acts and read the glory that attended the life of that first church.
By contrast the most successful kind of Christianity that we know, the most charismatic, the most to be lauded and applauded is utterly anaemic and does not bare comparison.
How is it that these rude men, fishermen and louts, who had no advantage of the kind that we have enjoyed where able to turn cities upside down and shake the earth?
Why is it we have not had a corresponding affect in our own generation?
The answer, in my opinion is, that in missing the cross we have missed the power of the resurrection we have sidestepped the cross as a subject let alone as an experience because we have no tolerance or sympathy for suffering.
The denial of self in any form is suffering. And we have not been encouraged to that.
We have overindulged and spoiled our youth, compromised truth in our marriages, suffered causalities and losses among our ministers, and given ground to the spirit of independence and rebellion in the church(es); all because we cannot stand pain.
We parents who indulge our kids rather than chasten them, are we being loving or self-indulgent?
We pastors who condescend to placate men, rather than speak the truth to them in love, why are we so sparing?
We saints who see the defects and things that need to be corrected in each other, why are we silent?
Where are the Paul’s of our generation who will confront the Peter’s? Who have compromised the gospel by being one thing with one group and another thing with another. Paul said he would not entertain that situation to go on beyond the moment for the purity of the gospel’s sake.
I call that love!
But you know that kind of love as an act is painful and it’s humiliating. It’s easy to be misunderstood; for which reason we prefer to keep quiet, for which reason the world is running a muck with us, and for which reason we move into increasing carnality, not being corrected by one another.
The avoidance of pain is a costly avoidance. And the symbol of the cross at the heart of the faith is an invitation to share in his sufferings.
In a word our Christianity is degenerating into a middle class culture, a sanctifying cover-up for the status quo, a vacuous praise club an equating of gain as godliness, a comfortable religiosity that leaves our real interests unchallenged and undisturbed in the avoidance of the cross of Christ Jesus.
Somehow am I naive to think we ought to look different, speak differently, act differently… that there ought to be such a savour and fragrance about us of Christ, that it is a savour of death unto death to self and life unto life to others. The fact the world can so easily tolerate us, the fact of the almost complete absence of reproach, let alone of persecution, is itself a shameful testimony that we are so like the world that we cannot be distinguished from it.
We have lost even the difference, the sense of the difference, between that which is sacred and that which is profane.
I believe that God could lay at the door of the church the full responsibility for the present condition of the world. And the things over which we cluck our tongues and point our fingers and look disdain down our noses about… Are the things which can be attributed to us, for we have not established in the earth a standard and an alternative to which a dying world might have turned. They simply did not know that there is such a thing as that which is holy and that which is sacred. For we our selves are wallowing in the things that are earthly, common, unclean and profane.
The only alternative to that which is earthly, carnal, sensual and devilish is that which is heavenly. And there is no way to attain to that which is heavenly independent of the cross of Christ Jesus.
If the prophet Isaiah seeing the lord high and lifted up cried out: “Woe is me, I am undone! I am a man of unclean lips and I live in the midst of a people of unclean lips.” What then shall we say… We need to have our vision and our sight corrected, we need to address our lives to the plumb line of God, the standard of God to the cross of Christ Jesus. Not academically, religiously, or superficially, but in the actual experience of our lives as those who have come willing to abandon everything.
Paul said: “I am determined to know nothing but Christ and him crucified.” We desperately and urgently need to know him exactly as he is.
By Art Katz
From: And they crucified him