“Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” —Joshua 24:14-15
The state of modern evangelical Christianity reveals a distressing trend—the neutering of the Church when it comes to robust theology and the practice of discernment. This phenomenon is evident in the inclination of many professing Christians to prioritize worldly interests, such as sports and entertainment, over a deep understanding and commitment to the teachings of the Bible. In this modern evangelical climate, a rigorous dedication to Biblical precepts, particularly when they clash with the superficial peace and comfort of cultural norms, is increasingly viewed as taboo.
The contemporary evangelical church has fostered a culture where confronting the surrounding culture with the righteousness of Christ is sidelined. For this reason, the study and understanding of Scripture are deemed less important, if not outright a waste of time, by so many within the church. This disregard for deep biblical knowledge is not just a mere oversight or laziness (it is these things), but more importantly, it is a telling indicator of where many of these peoples’ hearts truly lie.
The stark reality is that for many professing Christians, sports and its paraphernalia take precedence over Christ and His Word. There is a more fervent desire to know the names of favorite football players, their statistics, and their playing records than to delve into knowing Christ, obeying His commandments, and following His will for their lives. This preference speaks volumes about the state of their commitment and devotion. The pursuit of sports trivia over spiritual truth reveals a misplaced set of priorities that overshadow the fundamental call of the Christian faith.
The issue we are confronting here is not just a superficial, third-tier surface-level problem. It is a deeply rooted crisis that poses a significant threat to the integrity and vitality of the Christian faith. This crisis stems from a spiritual malaise that has infiltrated the Church, leading to a condition where the core tenets of Christian living—knowing Christ deeply and making Him known courageously—are being overshadowed by a desire to conform to the prevailing cultural dogmas.
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One profound truth that emerges from this situation is the role of church leaders and pastors in shaping this atmosphere within their congregations. Many of these leaders, perhaps even some unwittingly, have contributed to this dilemma. In their efforts to avoid conflict or controversy, they often shy away from addressing topics that might clash with the dominant cultural worldview. This stems from a variety of motives, including a desire to maintain a semblance of peace, attract a larger following, or simply to avoid the responsibility that comes with guiding a congregation through the complexities of modern societal issues.
Further, some pastors go beyond mere avoidance, actively discouraging their members from engaging in discussions or actions that might be perceived as controversial by the world. This approach ultimately leads to a dilution of the gospel and its power to save by quenching the preaching of the Word to those who need to hear it most. When Christians are not encouraged, or are even dissuaded, from confronting and engaging with challenging issues from a biblical perspective, their spiritual growth is stunted. This creates a church culture where superficial harmony is valued over the pursuit of truth.
The implications of this trend are far-reaching and alarming. By not addressing controversial topics, or even by urging members to remain silent on such issues, church leaders are sending a message that aligning with the cultural status quo is preferable to standing firm in one’s faith, weakening the resolve of believers to live out their faith authentically and diminishing the Church’s role as a guardian of truth in an increasingly secular world.
The Bible calls Christians to be in the world, but not of it. This means engaging with the culture critically, discerning what is good and aligning with it, while also standing against what is contrary to God’s Word. The reluctance to engage in such discernment leads to a church that is indistinguishable from the world it is called to reach. This not only undermines the Church’s witness but also robs believers of the joy and richness of a life lived in full submission to Christ.
To address this issue, there is a pressing need for church leaders to embrace their responsibility to shepherd their congregations with courage and conviction. This involves preaching the full counsel of God, especially when it is countercultural, and equipping believers to engage with the world in a way that is both loving and filled with truth. It calls for a commitment to the authority of Scripture as the ultimate source of truth for life and faith, and a renewed emphasis on discipleship and spiritual formation within the Church.
As this trend continues, a day of reckoning looms on the horizon—a day when God will separate the true followers of Christ from mere cultural Christians. This separation, akin to the Biblical parable of separating the sheep from the goats, will be a defining moment. Persecution and trials will be the crucible through which genuine faith is revealed and superficial belief is exposed. Those who are ashamed of the gospel and who choose superficial peace and unity with the world instead of submission to the authority of Christ, suffering with Him in order that we might be glorified with Him, will have a reckoning with reality on that day.
Choose this day whom you will serve.