The Church is being ripped off. There’s a roaring lion out there seeking whom he may devour, but we’ve spent years promoting the half-gospel of “Jesus died to pay your sin debt” and have downplayed the total lordship, power, and authority of Christ over our lives (me in Christ) and His power in and through us (Christ in me) that is free for the taking. Really, we’ve let ourselves be ripped off.
Like many of you, I read a lot. Sometimes that just involves standing in the bookstore and skimming books I don’t want to buy, especially anti- or substitute gospels. I continually see powerful Christian principles being marketed in success literature. I saw one the other day in a Franklin-Covey store that was about taking our thoughts captive, not allowing negative, fearful, or anxious thoughts into our consciousness. Of course, it wasn’t “taking our thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ.” But the principle was there, minus Jesus.
Another principle I’ve seen is “act as if.” C.S. Lewis talked about this in Mere Christianity. “Very often the only way to get a quality in reality is to start behaving as if you had it already.” He then distinguishes between the bad kind, where pretense is there instead of the real thing, and the good kind, where the pretense leads up to the real thing.
So Lewis says we are to “dress up as Christ,” which is a totally Biblical principle. And in so doing, he continues, we immediately begin to see ways in which we are not being our real self. Christ is there “at that moment beginning to turn your pretence into a reality.”
The success book mirrors this: “One of the great strategies for success is to act as if you are already where you want to be.”
This ripping-off has been going on for years. New agers like Blavatsky talk about developing “the Christ-consciousness,” that constant awareness of our true identity. But of course without coming through the Cross, dying in Christ and resurrecting in Him and being implanted by the new life, they are merely exalting the old, false, satanic life of Eph 2:2. I said to a fellow Christian in that Franklin-Covey store, “You can be successful all the way through life right into Hell.”
Of course most of these books I’ve looked at and read talk about doing good, giving to charities, and all that, but that’s just a sugar-coated second death. Most of these success principles and many of the new age books are just a thick coating of truths hiding a big lie to keep people from entering the Kingdom of God.
Now, there will likely be those who take me wrongly, but I’m not saying success literature is bad. There are several great books that have helped me change bad, disorganized habits into good ones. But that’s another story.
As Christians, we have been given an ancient Power. This power is greater than “he that is in the world.” Should our lives not reflect and resound with this ancient power? Shouldn’t miraculous life change, victory, and the overcoming life of Christ within us be the norm? If this isn’t our experience, we must ask ourselves, “Why not?”
A powerless church, a mere-forgiveness church, allows the devil to rip us off, letting him sugar coat his big lie with wonderful truths because the world doesn’t see us living from our true selves in Christ. We have mistakenly thought we have to live the Christian life – by our effort and programs and techniques. We’ve grumbled and complained, and been unbelieving about this powerful, conquering Holy Spirit that lives in us. This Overcomer, Christ Himself, lives inside each of us, and if we just begin to let Him do His work by trusting in Him it will change everything. The Hebrews could have entered the promised land and taken it over years sooner if they’d just trusted the God who wanted to be powerful on their behalf. Life change doesn’t have to take a long time.
“He that abideth in Him sinneth not.” If we are abiding, we’ll love God and love people. We’ll be bold, strong, true-hearted. It’s not a works-trip, or a prompt to more effort. It’s a fact: it is impossible to abide in Christ and at the same moment be sinning. Simple, childlike abiding in Christ by faith will give the life change we – and the world – are looking for.
Winner of 147 Grammys (or so), Ron Block is the banjo-ninja portion of Alison Kraus and Union Station. When he's not laying down a bluegrass-style martial-arts whoopin' on audiences around the world, he's taking care of his donkey named "Trash" and keeping himself busy by being one of the most well-read and thoughtful people we know.