Josh Harris leaving the faith kinda pushed me over the edge a bit recently.
His story is one we’ve been seeing a lot of lately. High profile Evangelical royalty that’s fallen (one way or the other) in mass over recent years. Whether it’s Josh Harris, Bill Hybles, Perry Noble, Mark Driscoll, or even institutions like Moody Bible College, we’ve seen a lot of cracks forming in our foundations.
Not only have I seen this happening in many famous Evangelical leaders, over the years I’ve seen it happening in an increasing number of ministers I’ve personally known. Some I even went to Bible college and seminary with.
Brewing In My Spirit
I’ve had some things brewing that I’ve wanted to say on my podcast but haven’t yet.
The timing just hasn’t been right but I feel now that it is. I don’t say these things as if in a vacuum, or sitting up in some sort of ivory tower. Like Jeremiah or Ezekiel, I consider myself among the exiles of Israel and Judah. I don’t stand above it all, but in the midst of it all. I am a shepherd among the sheep, and I’m on the same journey you all are on. What is impacting everyone else impacts me as well.
Before we get started, I just want to say up front that I love the church. I wanna make that abundantly clear. I’ve given a good chunk of my life to living in service to her in a variety of ways. I’ve not always treated her as kindly as I should, but whatever cynical jeremiads I have wallowed in over the years, it has absolutely been fueled out of a love for the family of God. Some things I’ve said have at times been harsh or at times unfair or even hypocritical, but I don’t think my observations have ever been wrong.
Jesus Isn’t For the “Soccer Moms”
The theology and ministry of Jesus isn’t exactly soccer mom friendly. That’s not to say He doesn’t care for such individuals. He does, and deeply so. However, Jesus didn’t come into this world to engage in some sort of emotional self-help nonsense, make an idol of the family unit at all costs, and create a homogeneous church that does nothing but help folks keep their American dream alive.
Jesus didn’t come here to help us better indulge in our hyper consumeristic lifestyles. Jesus didn’t conquer death so that we could have nothing but cool church groups, extravagant women’s retreats, shopping malls, nice cars and homes, and children who become responsible wonderful citizens that grow up and embrace the world and all its definitions of success and votes a certain way.
We want the Jesus on a t-shirt, not the Jesus that hangs on the cross, who threatens our nuclear family’s material well being. That’s why we like guys like Steven Furtick, T.D. Jakes, and Joel Osteen. They give us the Jesus who is safe and stylish and cool.
The Church Is Worldly In Its’ Corporate Practices
Our churches have become intoxicated by wealth, politics, power, and corporate America. They are country clubs and family fun centers, even though they might say otherwise.
Real “authentic” community is dying, in spite of all our small groups. Our churches resemble music clubs and TV game shows, full of laser beams and fog machines. The gospel is but one of many commodities we sell. And our churches are seldom places you belong to where a community of saints equips us all to make disciples who make disciples that make disciples. They seldom gather for a common meal.
We have nothing but professional ministers, well intended as they might be, many are full of ambition, and wanting to build religious empires. They hop from one church gig to the next, trying to climb the corporate ladder in search of platforms and prestige. They use the word “servant leader,” but seldom mean anything other than “leader” or “boss” or… CEO.
And, as soon as their time is over, you never see or hear from them again. They are seldom home grown in local communities. They are imported, and treated like commodities to be swapped out. They are hired and fired, and, no matter how involved they really get with any given church, they are seldom truly a part of that community. They remain mere professionals who are hired to do a job, and are no different than the guy we hire to cut our yard, paint our home, and work on our car.
And so long as they do a good job that we agree with, we are okay with taking a back seat to contributing to the life and ministry of our church, and laboring in our community to make disciples that make disciples. We’ll gladly show up, sing a couple songs, and look at the back of the heads of strangers while some guys on a platform jump through all the hoops we hired them to jump through.
Our Gospel Is Nothing But An Empty Formula
We’ve turned the gospel into a nonsensical formula whereby men simply ascent to a scheme and get their ticket for the train ride to heaven punched or not. We believe in justification by faith and preach it as if it were the gospel itself, but never realize that justification by faith isn’t the gospel.
Our salvation isn’t dependent on whether or not we’ve ascribed to a certain theory of atonement, even if that theory is 100% correct. It’s dependent on whether or not Jesus Christ really was crucified for our sins and came back to life, and whether or not our belief in that event has flipped our world upside down and reoriented our lives so as to make our prior life and world something that no longer captivates our hearts.
That world should be dead to us, and we should be crucified to it, because we live in a world in which Jesus Christ is Lord, and not Caesar, Donald Trump, our boss, money, or our family.
To hell with doctrines such as “eternal security” and “once saved always saved,” even if they are right. They seldom do more than make people who are not really interested in following Jesus feel like they are still going to heaven when they die. I’m not interested in such nonsense.
I am, however, interested in following Jesus Christ as my Lord, and coming together with those who are interested in doing the same. I simply don’t have time for folks who are interested in simply going to heaven when they die, and living any damned way they want all because they think they said the right prayer once.
I am clinging onto the hope that Jesus Christ is alive and is ushering in the kingdom of heaven, in which there is a new heaven and new earth are being made by Him. Of which, I consider myself a citizen, and He has invited me and everyone else to be participants of a community that loves God, loves our neighbors, and even loves those we’d consider our enemies.
There is no room for our middle class country club religion when you start sacrificially loving on folks we we consider strangers or our natural enemies. Soccer moms have no time for such. It’s far too risky to their nuclear family unit.