Yesterday (Aug. 22, 2010), I heard one of those sermons that indelibly marks one's soul. It was not necessarily the entire sermon, but it was two quotations that Pastor Alex Choi of Sovereign Grace Los Angeles used in his sermon. These quotations lined up with my own view of Christianity, and how it fulfills me.
One of the quotations were from W.H. Auden, a British poet. When asked why he became a Christian he replied, "God fulfills none of my dreams and He is in every way different than I would want Him to be". This quote is not something one hears from church-ianity today, especially from faith church-ianity, and pastors who continually talk about living your best life now. To these person, Christianity is a means to an end. The means being living a moral life, following principles and laws that will cause God to be pleased enough with your performance to bless your life with health and wealth.
These pastors and teachers tell people what they want to hear. These pastors and teachers are exactly who Paul warned Timothy about in 2 Timothy 4:3. The people do not want to hear about sin, holiness, or doctrine. They want to hear about God's love, goodness and grace. They want a God that fulfills their dreams no matter how banal or mundane. Therefore they are taught Moralistic Therapeutic Deism by pastors and teachers whose sole interests are cheeks in the pews and checks in the offering plate.
What is most interesting about Auden's quote is that he nailed 21st century evangelicalism to the wall. Instead of worshiping the God revealed in Scripture, most of evangelicalism is worshiping an idol. A sugar daddy that gives them whatever they demand, kind of like Veruca Salt's father in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Much of the justification for this sort of idolatry comes from stealing promises to Old Testament saints, rather than taking the promises that God gave the church. They want the Old Testament promises because promise prosperity to those saints. On the other hand, Jesus and the New Testament authors promise persecution, adversity and hardship to the New Testament saints. However, that is not all that is promised to the New Testament saints. The most important promise that Jesus Himself gave His followers is that He would be with them always (Matt. 28:20).
The second quote that Pastor Alex read from Auden, was Auden's response to the question that naturally follows from the first quote. That question is, "If you believe that God is so different than what you would imagine Him to be, why be a Christian?" Auden responded, "No other religion invokes in me a desire to scream, 'Crucify him!'."
This quote resonated more with me than the first. I have always taught people that Christianity is easy to believe, but hard to live. Juxtapose this with religion. Let me give you two examples: being raised a JW (Jehovah's Witness), I know what is expected of me. If I put in a certain amount of hours, give the appropriate comments at the various meetings, and say the right things to the right people I would pass for a JW. My wife also knows what to do when it comes to Catholicism. Religion does not aggravate me, because religion is my default setting. If I do this, then I get that.
Christianity tells me that I bring nothing to the cross, but my sin. Christianity tells me that unless God is wholly involved in my salvation, from justification to glorification I would be hopelessly lost. This is what makes me want to scream "Crucify him!" The fact that God is solely responsible and the only active member of salvation goes against my fallen nature which says that I deserve some part in God's plan of salvation. Biblical salvation wounds the pride of man. This is why so many Christians hold on to "free will" so tightly.
Christianity is so foreign to our fallen nature that we simply cannot see its truth. Christianity also tells us the truth about ourselves. We do not like to hear or see ourselves as we really are, and because of this, Christianity makes us want to crucify Jesus. This is why churches that proclaim the Christ of Scripture are so few and unpopular, and "churches" that proclaim the Christ of your dreams are so well attended. It all goes back to 2 Tim. 4:3. The fact that there are false teachers in the church is another demonstration that we are indeed in the last days.