Anybody who had seriously and honestly read the New Testament would never mistake what passes for Christianity in America today, especially by those proclaiming themselves the truest expression of it — evangelicals.
Being a real Christian should be uncomfortable, inconvenient and difficult. American evangelicals have reinvented Christianity to suit their prejudices and desires.
As a baby Christian, I was immediately struck by the disconnect I saw between New Testament ideals and the lifestyle of most evangelicals I met. My studies took me to England, Europe, Canada and the US. Everywhere I went, I encountered believers living comfortable lives. They were not persecuted because they seldom engaged in evangelism. When queried they would claim they practiced “lifestyle” or “friendship” evangelism. This meant their lives were so clearly Christian, non believers would be drawn to God simply by observing them like a moth to a light.
Words such as “materialistic” or “worldly” are supposed to be repulsive to an evangelical because they represent conformity to the world and its values. Yet I seldom saw believers striving to be separate from it. Instead, evangelicals adopt the same love toward wealth, status, sex and material goods. They listen to non Christian music with explicit lyrics, watch movies and shows with adult content and pornography. They have affairs, premarital sex and get divorces. They watch or attend sporting events on Sunday, drink alcohol, dance, swear, gossip and gamble. When it comes down to it, there is nothing that separates them from those they claim are wicked sinners.
In a future post, I will include a list of verses which highlight the moral standards to which evangelicals are to strive. Suffice it to say now though, the difference between a Christian and non Christian is radical. In fact, according to the book of Romans, it is impossible for a non believer to achieve righteousness. Only those regenerated in Jesus who participate in the power of his resurrection can find victory over sin.
The Prosperity Gospel is attractive because it tells American evangelicals exactly what they want to hear: God wants you to be prosperous and happy and successful and… Imagine if these television hucksters started preaching church discipline, sacrificial giving (not to them but missions and charities), modesty in all things, self control when it comes to eating and spending, fasting and praying, intensive bible study and the use of free time for Christian service. Few would listen.
The blending of Christianity and American Nationalism has obscured the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Fear of God has been surrendered. Evangelicals don’t get up each morning terrified by the thought of displeasing God with their words, deeds or thoughts. Most hardly think of him at all except to ask him for something. God has been reduced to one who blesses sports teams, entertainers and meals.
There is a “holy remnant” of evangelical Christians who earnestly endeavor to live out their faith as the Bible prescribes. They have fully invested their lives in what they believe. These are the ones you don’t see on television or hear much about. They are humble, selfless servants of Jesus. Unfortunately, they are the exception to what has become a gross perversion of a tradition that celebrates “The first shall be last, and the last shall be first.”
Note to Readers: This article will be greatly expanded in the days to come. There is much more to be said…