Friday, September 28, 2007

The Missing Ingredient

I really think it may be joy.

I'm just speculating here.

When I weary of a doctrinal compatriot's constant knocking of the Church to the extent that it essentially becomes their raison d'blog, I stop seeing "prophet" and start seeing "scrooge." I see the pervasive unhappiness with the spiritual quality of fellow believers not as indication of the blogger's properly calibrated prophetic barometer but as indication of their thinly veiled joylessness.

Remember: only God gets to vomit people out.

There's a difference between being critical and having a critical spirit.

The message of the Gospel is so thrilling. It should produce in us great joy. The message of the cross should create in us a joy unspeakable and filled with glory.

And when we look out at a Church in biblical and doctrinal and spiritual disarray, a culture in need of reformation, we should commit to this endeavor diligently and fiercely, but despite encountering things that can (and should) disturb or even anger us, our pursuit of reformation should be characterized not by anger or despair, but by great, overflowing, boundless joy.

What an incredible day that the message of the gospel is a scandal to even those who claim the name Christian!


dle said...


A few thoughts:

1. There's a big difference between having an axe to grind and genuine godly concern for the state of the Church. That must always be taken into account.

2. Only if one has dwelt in the Promised Land and joyfully partaken of its milk and honey can one truly weep for (and warn) those who seem to have so little interest in dwelling there.

3. The same Paul who spoke of unending joy in Christ is the one who warned, "You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you?"

4. Only the heartless man would stand idly by and fail to warn others who are at risk of being vomited from the mouth of the Lord.

5. Considering that the underground Chinese Church is even now praying that persecution would come to the United States so that American Christians would wake up from whatever therapeutic daze we're in, more of us should be calling the Church to repent.

6. Though the Lord certainly joyfully commended the churches of Symrna and Philadelphia, I'm sure the Lord had no joy in rebuking the rest of the churches mentioned in Revelation 2 & 3.

7. As Ecclesiastes notes, there is a time to weep and a time to laugh. Wisdom is knowing when to do which.

Yes, some people handle this better than others. It's a very fine dance, and too many of us have two left feet. I would rather err on the side of being too tough than to be too lenient and miss the mark.

I get e-mails every day from people who are struggling. Most have been burned by the American Church and don't know what to do about it. I spoke on the phone with a pastor Friday who told me a story I could not believe. The sad thing is that I hear those stories all the time and I still can't believe them. I'm sure if the Church we see in Acts heard them, they'd be aghast.

Joy comes in attaining the rich life of the disciple. I fear that many of us have no clue how far we are from that. So instead of experiencing real joy, we manufacture a fake one and say to ourselves, "Now this is living!" Only problem is, it's not living at all. Nor is it real joy.

We need far more leaders willing to point out this truth than we now have. "Your best life now" may mean you wind up murdered by an angry mob who hates the Jesus you stand for. "Your best life now" may mean you live in a tiny house well below your means and live like a Christian rather than a consumer, especially if that means that others benefit from the largess you accumulate and then give away. As long as that's not the message we're preaching in our churches, someone needs to speak out.

Jared said...

Dan, you read my blog. Do you think I'm anti-repentance, against calling the church to reform, to turn away from culture-entrenched ministry and idolatry?

I pointed out the reality of this in this very post.

Do you think Osteenism is really what I'm calling for in this post?

And if not: Dude, why the "yes, but" always?

Not too long ago I talked about spiritual greed in the form of always expecting "victories" and you "yes, butted" me on that, talking about power and such.

Anonymous said...

Jared, great post.

The other day my sixth grade son was listening to some music that was of the "screamo" genre. Now, the lyrics weren't objectionable, but man, the sound was so angry. I realize this may just be me being an old man, but I told him we didn't need to listen to it. He asked "why?" and I said, "because as believers of the Gospel, we don't have anything to be that angry about."

I explained to him that there were injustices in the world that did cause us to be angry, but the music in that genre weren't addressing those kinds of issues.

I then had the opp to just re-share w/ him the Gospel, and that because of the Gospel, we had reason to be...of all people...thankful and JOYFUL.

Anyway, the next day, I read this post. It seemed to fit. Peace.

dle said...


I'm not following you on the "yes, but" thing. "Yes, but" what?

As to the Osteenism comments, I know that Osteenism gets your dander up. Is there a way to be upset about thousands of people, perhaps millions, being deceived by Osteenism in the Church, yet still remain joyful? Must the two be exclusionary?

Ultimately, that's all I'm asking.

Jared said...

I'm not following you on the "yes, but" thing. "Yes, but" what?

It is a mark of contrariness. I don't get it either.
It appears that when I write about spiritual greed in lusting for victory after victory, you had a "yes, but . . ." for me. And then now I'm talking about joy and you have a "yes, but" for that too. When I have a hard time figuring out why you would even have a problem with a post calling for joy.

Is there a way to be upset about thousands of people, perhaps millions, being deceived by Osteenism in the Church, yet still remain joyful?

Yes! That's kind of the point of this post.

Why do some critics of the Church have to be so joyless?
It's a critical spirit.