|'M NOT SURE there is any word in the English language that has been more perverted, distorted and abused than the word "love." All one needs to do is browse the channels of any radio and TV; or survey the covers and headlines of those magazines and tabloids alongside you in the checkout line at the grocery store to get a sampling of its many diametrically different, even damning definitions.|
I can think of no maneuver Satan has had more success in deceiving mankind with than turning what was once considered a Divine attribute into nothing more than a four-letter word; and because the church has now set out to "evangelize" society by emulating it, sadly, their definition of "love" has since become no better.
Today, many extol "God's love" through religious manipulation; craftily employing what amounts to deceit in carrying out a "sacred" agenda for church growth; the same tactic Satan himself used on Eve in the Garden. We have churches offering unrepentant sinners amusements, refreshments, recreation and smiling faces that wink at rebellion while denying the Lord they claim at every turn by hiding His Word behind clever programs, techniques, organizations, reputations and strategies; and in doing so, re-define "love" into something sneaky, seductive, misleading and unbiblical as a pragmatic means of gaining advantage for the coveted favor and approval of a fallen and rebellious world that, in reality, hates Jesus Christ and His Word.
Just the other day a representative from a church near Nashville proudly told a reporter from the Tennessean about a free concert and program they were providing "for anyone who wants to come. It's a concert of screaming, raw music - designed to draw adolescents many churches might think twice about."
In the article, staff writer, Kathrin Chavez reported the following:
"The church acting as host is an outgrowth of Grace Chapel's GraceXtreme program, which was begun as a way to reach to disaffected youth..."
The program's director, Holli Givens, told Chavez:
"Our church is about how we love kids. We particularly felt we needed to have an outreach to those kids who are tattooed, pierced, who think nobody cares about them, nobody understands them. That is the heart of our program," adding that, "The program began with opening a skateboard park and paintball park three years ago on the church property along Southall Road."
The article went on to say:
"There is no Bible study or opening devotions. It's fun, pure and simple. These Christians are evangelizing by example only, Givens said."
"It's like a stealth ministry. We go in under their radar. We don't preach to the kids. We try to love on them. Through just being nice and loving, we hope for an opportunity to introduce them to Jesus Christ, she said."
What "opportunity" do you suppose they might they be waiting for? Could it be they're waiting for somebody to fall off their skateboard and break something so they can't jump back on and ride away before hearing about the Hell that awaits them without the Savior? Are they waiting for everybody to put down their paintball guns and call a ceasefire so church volunteers don't get popped in the noggin trying to share the Gospel? Maybe they're waiting on all those "screaming" bands to go on break so the kids can actually hear somebody give their testimony; or maybe they're waiting for one of the lead screamers to stop and tell the skateboarding, paint-balling crowd how Jesus changed his life; though I don't recall "screaming" being an actual fruit of the Spirit.
"Go ye therefore into all the world and trick them into the Kingdom of Heaven with hospitality, affection and raucous entertainment?" Is that the Great Commission? Did Jesus tempt His followers two thousand years ago with promises of bread and fish to drop by and hear His Sermon on the Mount? Did he gather singers to wail from the hillside in order to lure them in for a little Good News? No, the Bible says "it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe." - 1st Corinthians 1:21
"The program is working, she said, not only in giving youth a safe and loving place to hang out, but also in showing them a bit about Christianity."
What, that Christianity is all about fun and games? That Jesus was scourged, humiliated, crowned with thorns and nailed to a cross so rambunctious and rebellious teenagers could come down to the church and ride their skateboards all day and shoot each other with paintball guns to "raw music?"
Amazingly, the article goes on to say that "GraceXtreme is not really a gimmicky thing."
Yeah, "QUACK QUACK QUACK" said the hen...
Referring to the children that have been attending, Givens told the Tennessean reporter:
"They are so funny. They are really cool, and I love listening to them and seeing how they think. It's great getting to know them and getting them to know Christ by setting examples...It is a festival-type outdoor event, and will include a rock-climbing wall and graffiti artists."
OH, so Jesus said: "I have come that they might climb rocks and scribble more abundantly?"
"If we have any kids who are won over to Christ through this, that would be awesome." (Me, I'd call it a miracle) "If all we do is plant seeds, that is our main goal. We want these kids to know they are loved and accepted. They're used to being rejected. We're not going to reject them. Come with your baggage. That's OK. We love you, and we accept you."
Jesus ate with "tax collectors and sinners" but He also called them to repentance and faith, preaching and teaching them to "go and sin no more!" Accepting anyone and everyone regardless of their attitude and behavior may be Grace Chapel's policy; but it certainly is not the protocol of the Lord Jesus Christ.
"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works/ And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." - Matthew 7:21-23
If there is no preaching, no Bible Study and no devotions of any kind, "only fun, pure and simple," why bring them to a church? The secular world has all this and more. You think they won't "love" your kids for coming by! Wait till they start buying all those food and drinks! Who needs the ACLU to censor the Word of God around town with scripturally sterilized church programs and playgrounds like this?
"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children." - Hosea 4:6
What kind of seeds are we planting? What kind of examples are we setting? What kind of "Christ" are we winning them to? What kind of "love" are we demonstrating?
Without saying a thing, I emailed Ms. Givens, her pastor and certain members of the church staff a link to the new article by pastor Kelly Boggs entitled: "Entertaining Ourselves to Death," in hopes it might be edifying. The pastor had already received a link from me to Charles Spurgeon's article, "Feeding Sheep or Amusing Goats?" three years ago when he first introduced the GraceXtreme program to the community in an earlier Tennessean article.
Unfortunately, their response to receiving those links was, shall we say, less than cordial; so, I left them with, among other remarks, the following reply, which I will leave with you today in hopes you might pass it along to others whose churches have also gone the way of the world:
"God's transforming power is not and never has been dependent upon the toys, games and schemes of people acting in stealth. No one will be tricked into the Kingdom of Heaven by being lured into a church group or fellowship through a flattery and bribery called "love;" but many WILL be tricked into believing they are saved simply because well-meaning people tell them what they want to hear rather than what they need to hear from the Word of God.
Christians who do 'whatever works' and 'whatever it takes,' even for a 'good cause' ARE NOT people of faith; but only people of pragmatism who believe 'the end justifies the means,' which is lawlessness and disobedience in the eyes of God. Jesus is not and never has been pragmatic, because pragmatism is nothing more than a shortcut for lazy, faithless, impatient and undisciplined people who covet results over righteousness.
In spite of the current church growth trends and fashions, the Christian life is not a playground or entertainment venue where sinners go to have their self-esteem stroked, emotions stimulated and carnal cravings satisfied in the name of Jesus. Those who teach this are, at best, deceived themselves and at worst, wolves in sheep's clothing.
If you 'do not preach' to the children you claim to 'evangelize by example,' how will they know that they are sinners, lost and separated from God?
Do they ever hear from your lips about the 'wages of sin?' or would that offend them and their parents?
Do they ever hear from your 'compassionate heart' what it means to confess one's sins; and that there is no salvation in Jesus Christ apart from repentance and faith?
Do they ever hear from your playground what Jesus Christ did for them on Calvary's Cross and why?
Do they ever hear from you about what real faith in Christ IS or do they just learn pragmatism by example?
If you are holding back any of these uncomfortable things from them in order to keep them coming back, you ARE NOT evangelizing; you are only entertaining to gain their favor, approval and participation, which IS NOT the Great Commission.
Jesus never withheld the Whole Counsel of God in order to be loved and accepted by the 'tax collectors' and 'sinners' he dined with; and neither should we.
He never lured the masses to the Mount of Olives with promises of bread and fish; and neither should we.
Love is not expressed by hiding the more offensive parts of scripture from the unrepentant and unregenerate. Agape Love is telling a lost soul, bound for an eternity in Hell, the whole truth about themselves and Jesus Christ, even when it hurts their feelings and causes them to hate you and reject you for it, never to return again.
THAT takes real faith and courage; and is precisely what Jesus did; and is what you and I are called to do as His followers; not merely offer toys, games and hugs on a playground in hopes they will eventually like us enough to be casually coerced into cooperating with a man-made program. Any church that sets out to imitate the world in order to try and win it for Christ has lost already."
"For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God." - 1st Corinthians 1:18
© 2006 Paul Proctor - All Rights Reserved
Paul Proctor, a rural resident of the Volunteer state and seasoned veteran of the country music industry, retired from showbiz in the late 1990's to dedicate himself to addressing important social issues from a distinctly biblical perspective.
As a freelance writer and regular columnist for NewsWithViews.com, he extols the wisdom and truths of scripture through commentary and insight on cultural trends and current events. His articles appear regularly on a variety of news and opinion sites across the internet and in print. Paul may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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