I was working through my RSS feed today when I stumbled up a great post by my aunt, Tura Zapata, who is also a pastor/elder at LifeHouse Ministries in Beaumont, TX, about the church’s tendency to exchange “the Gospel of righteousness in Christ Jesus for religious rhetoric.”
To quote the beginning of her post:
“Rhetoric – The art or study of using language effectively and persuasively; speech or discourse that pretends to significance but lacks true meaning.
This could be an abbreviated name of the church in the world today; the sign would be bigger than the building if we put in all the titles that were left out!
“The First New Universal Bapticostal Post Modern Charismatic Church of Reformed Rhetoric” (tongue –in – cheek, but no chuckle here, I don’t think God is laughing)
Paul dealt with the same problem with the believers of his time. The church at Corinth had taken on this title only the names were different!
You may be questioning how this could be, for the church has only tried to answer the need of the society and culture of the people it embraces today; struggling to stay relevant letting go of doctrinal dogmas becoming more inclusive. The five fold ministry has survived and signs and wonders are supernaturally performed. What have we missed?
The next statement [from God] hit me harder than the first. ‘Since the gospel being preached is one of rhetoric, then the response becomes rhetorical, having no practical application, or urgency to answer, no power to change and requires no true faith to endure. It results in unbelief or disobedience.'”
While she goes to develop this point a bit more, it was this last line above that really got me. To lose the ‘practical application’ of the message of Jesus…. to lose the understand that to meet the living Jesus is to change, to be set free from bondage of all kings (addictions, shame, guilt, sin, evil, injustice, death, judgment, etc.)…
That is a sobering thought – or, at least, it should be!
In a somewhat related way, I was listening to a talk by Phil Strout recently about the need to plant more churches in the USA despite critics who claim the opposite. At first it seems funny that someone would criticize the need for more churches… yet if the churches being planted are of the “The First New Universal Bapticostal Post Modern Charismatic Church of Reformed Rhetoric” type…then yes, we don’t need any more churches.
Yet, as Tura says further down in her post, what we need is people who are following Jesus in the power of the Spirit, breaking down the barriers of injustice, pain, sorrow, death, addiction, guilt, judgment, illness, and everything else that in contrary to the Glory of God Almighty.
- practical, hands-on believers who are willing to stay up all night by the hospital bed of a friend
- follower of Jesus who help repair cars and household items of single mothers and fathers
- loving people who walk through the messes of life with each other instead of running away and breaking relationships at the first sign of struggles
- kind believers who are willing to pray through the night at the urging of the Lord
- people who walk in the enacted inaugurated eschatology of the here and not yet, knowing that signs and wonders happen within seconds of pain and sorrow with no real rhyme or reason except that Jesus is King and we are in a battle again evil
“God didn’t send me [St Paul] out to collect a following for myself, but to preach the Message of what he has done, collecting a following for him. And he didn’t send me to do it with a lot of fancy rhetoric of my own, lest the powerful action at the center—Christ on the Cross—be trivialized into mere words.” – I Corinthians 1:17 (The Message)