Summary: A message focusing on a few of the realities we tend to overlook in our quest for cultural relevance and seeker sensitivity.
Dakota Community Church
January 28, 2007
Reality Ever After
We sometimes portray the Christian faith like a fairy tale from childhood, all the action takes place before we “get saved” and then live happily ever after. Salvation is not the end of the story. It is not the end of the action or the end of the struggle. It is the beginning of the real battle.
Why are we losing the twenty-something’s?
Disturbing stats on twenty-something departure rates:
“A recent survey from the Barna Group suggests only one-fifth of twenty-something’s have maintained the same level of spiritual activity as they did in high school. Barns research shows that twenty-something’s – even ones who were very active in church during their teen years – have lower levels of church attendance, study time, Bible reading, donations to churches and small group involvement compared to older adults. Perhaps the most jarring statistic reflects the overall attitude of twenty-something’s when it comes to maintaining the faith of their youth: 61% of those involved in church at some level as teenagers completely disengage in their twenties.
(Jesse Carey, “Faith No More” - Relevant Magazine Jan-Feb 2007 ed. Pg. 51)
One of the major reasons given for this departure is the fairy tale version of Christianity being presented in many of our congregations. At a time in life when they are struggling with purpose, meaning, direction and social issues the fairy tale version screams irrelevance.
What do we do about this?
Get in touch with reality!
In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
1. Lordship is not optional.
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."
When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me.
The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him."
Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?"
Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
If Jesus is wrong on this then he is crazy because he clearly believes it! You cannot have it both ways, Jesus is the Son of God who came to reconcile the world to himself, or he is a nut who should be ignored.
We have to draw the line between cultural relevance and absolute truth. Yes we need to love and demonstrate the grace and long patience of the Lord when dealing with those outside the knowledge of Christ; no we cannot say that there is a good behavior plan for eternal salvation.
I am not talking about getting all judgmental about people and situations we know nothing about. The only person you can be certain about as far as their eternal destination is concerned is you. You don’t know what anyone else has done in their heart and you don’t know how far the grace of God extends; however when we are talking about ourselves, we need to make Jesus Lord of all.
“We had received a request from the Dalai Lama to participate in a festival called Oneness. I love and respect the Dalai Lama but there was something a little bit ‘lets hold hands’ hippie to me about this particular event. I am in awe of the Tibetan position on non-violence but this event didn’t strike a chord. I sent him back a note saying, ‘One – but not the same.’
(U2 by U2, pg. 221)
2. God does not owe us anything.
We are to have faith in obedience to God; we are not to act like spoiled rich kids.
Don’t you hate it when things don’t go your way?