Confess or Compromise
Updated: Mar 17, 2019
Our addiction to self appeasement has spilled over into our pulpits and the ability to swallow a strong word from the Lord has vanished. .
The mainstream eddies of oblivion
In our mainstream Christian culture today there seems to be a need, to not be too controversial. We don't want to appear fringe and our need for acceptance has placed a lot of pressure on churches today to conform to a more supple image. This of course is not new, for throughout history the church has faced this struggle, generation after generation.
It is interesting though, that as we study the history of the church, it is the periods of non-conformity that are marked with the supernatural. The hand of God touched great men and woman and helped shape revival in times when the church was all but dead. Naturally I am speaking of the spiritual deadness of the church.
It cannot be surprising though, after all, this is how the church became mainstream all those centuries ago. The apostles were dead. The supernatural seemed to die with them and any fear or awe of the presence of God was replaced with form, customs, ritual and impressive construction projects. The compromising church was born in a period when persecution was trying to wipe out followers who kept spreading like a holy virus throughout the land. Having to keep to the shadows in back room meetings and underground churches, believers kept coming to the Lord. People were looking for hope and truth in a culture that had tried and failed to satisfy.
Rome at the time was broke. Expansion came with a price and the internal systems of rot effected the empire from the top to the bottom. The elite were drunk with lust, power and avarice. The poor were struggling to simply survive. And through all of this a simple message of love was catching fire. No matter how hard the empire tried to crush this message it kept on spreading in the hearts of those who had lost all hope. Those who were intrigued to hear about a God of love who had given His all for each and every one of them.
So this new relationship of faith between God and man was molded by a shrewd man into new religion. Complete with all the ritual and customs that would meld together pagan customs with this new wildfire of faith. It would not take too long for this wildfire to flicker out. Drown in the waters of religious behaviour and duty and law.
Long before, when Ezra received the joyful news that he was to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple, that first generation back was filled with fire and zeal to complete the project, the mission. It would not take too many years for a new sect to arise. After years of captivity for disobedience to the law of God, it is no wonder that a group of eager priests deduced the need to ritualistically follow the precepts of the law to the letter. It was four hundred years and four hundred new laws later that the Pharisees were at their height of power within the culture of the day. The days when God in the flesh, the Giver of the Law, was walking among them. They were blind to the presence of Him. Immune to the message of Jesus, while sinners and the lost drank from him like a fountain of life. Religion makes no room for relationship, for mercy is greater than sacrifice. Being merciful can mean looking past the faults, in love. Ignoring the broken laws and seeing the hurting person. Knowing that your mission is to love them into wholeness. Religion seldom carries this agenda when judgment and separation are the tools used.
Culture can take relationships that are healthy and create religions that kill. Religion can kill the flesh, as much as it can the spirit of a man, or a movement. Consider the church of Germany in the late twenties. Germany was going through an epic economic meltdown. Their currency was worthless and the weight of paying the demands of gold, in reparations for world war one was crippling. Millions were out of work. In the post-war world that was Germany the common man sought answers any where they could find them. In the churches or in the politicians. Unfortunately the miraculous was not to be found in the marble halls of great cathedrals but in the hollow words, preached by a different kind of madman, who had a different kind of gospel.
Seemingly overnight the calm German baker who lived next door, the quiet newspaper boy who tossed the Berlin Post on the steps every morning, had transformed into very different animals. In the absence of the demonstrable truth of the gospel another gospel appears. Without the supernatural at the hands of Gods apostles and prophets, another kind of apostle arises.
German preachers at this time, good and honourable preachers of the school of great reformers filled the pulpits. The land that gave us the likes of Martin Luther, shaking off the shackles of ritualistic duties and embracing a living faith, this land had now given rise to Adolf Hitler. The cultural pressure from the new government was smothering for these preachers who were facing a life threatening choice. Adjust your sermons to suit this new cultural message or die. Some resisted. Most adjusted. There was more than 18,000 preachers at this time and only 5,000 or so were counted as part of the 'Confessing Church'. These 'confessors' rose up against the German Church that had succumbed to the pressure of the culture of the day and their dark message. The compromising church is always at odds with the confessing church.
Today the churches of England stand empty. Many are sold off to become private homes or renovated to suit the needs of a new congregation of another faith. In the west this is a common sight, unless the church either welcomes the cultural compromises that embrace all the world wishes. A 'spiritual' life without the obligation to maintain a healthy relationship with God. Could you have a healthy relationship with a loved one while all the time you were doing things to break their heart? Your home life would be something else.
Or the church remembers its roots and returns to embracing the dynamic presence of God, allowing Him to reign once again in the hearts and minds of men and women. Embraces the fire of the Holy Spirit and His ability to do the supernatural in a world that is so desperate for the supernatural that they make movies and shows about it all the time. There is a hunger for the things we are wired to walk in and without seeing this in the church, the world creates a counterfeit to follow.
Culture today makes demands of us in the way we think and the way we speak. No longer are boys boys or girls girls. We see no issue in pushing the laws of morality and humanity to the edge and over. Today, without the tangible presence of God in our churches, there must needs be compromise to sate the appetites of a world that likes to feel spiritual without being spiritual. The compromising church is alive and well. The confessing church exists ever strongly in lands unknown to most of you, dear reader. Most of the readers of this will surely be in the west. But I am in Asia at the moment and have been for more than half a year now. China, Thailand, Vietnam and Japan. There are believers here that daily demonstrate what a life in the spirit looks like. Believers who awake at 5am to pray by the hundreds every day. Culture in some countries is still oppressive to many of these faithful, and in some cases dangerous. Yet they pray.
History repeats itself. It has been said. Well, I suppose it is the people, mankind, never learning from our past that is the cause of the unnecessary repetition. Martin Luther was a non-conformist. Evan Roberts did something different than the other boys his age and changed the course of a nation. Maria Woodworth Etter preached before woman could preach, let alone vote, and changed the lives of millions. John G. Lake or Smith Wigglesworth many great men and women from the last century transformed nations and lives by not compromising, but by daring to be confessors. When you think about it, all the great hero's of the faith were non-conformists. Folks that thought differently and did things differently, not because they knew better, but because they tuned their ears to hear what the Spirit was saying.
Today, we need to be a church that can listen to His voice and then be able to make sense of the prophetic messages being utter daily. I am reminded of the troubling times that Jeremiah found himself in. The city surrounded by the enemy. No matter where he looked he saw the enemy. The promise of captivity. Yet while he tried to tell the leaders of the day what God was really saying, the popular crowd of man-pleasing prophets has words of honey to pour into ears that were addicted to sweetness.
Our appetite today in churches in the west is so inclined. Our addiction to self appeasement has spilled over into our pulpits and the ability to swallow a strong word from the Lord has vanished. We have now started to teach in bible schools that all prophecy is for the building up of the church and that is comprised entirely of edification. We cannot see edification as anything except praise and encouragement. The church in some circles rejects words of admonishment and cannot foresee a prophetic word that comes in the form of a dire warning. It is taught that this type of prophetic word died with the old testament prophets and today in the era of love, these dire warnings are not needed for Love Himself has taken on all the sin of the world.
Cloaked in a truth the lie creeps in. I have sat in bible schools to hear such things being taught. How quickly we gloss over new testament prophets like Agabus who warned the church of a great famine to come. Not as if it was a punishment to the church, but rather so that they could be prepared in advance to be a source for the hungry. We have been in a famine in many parts of the Christian church for a great many years now. Hungry for the real, the supernatural, believers everywhere seek His presence. You do not need four walls and a roof to be an oasis of life giving water to the world around you. You can find the hungry in any coffee shop or gas station, any hair dresser or AA meeting. The world is full of them. Once again the religious community, like the Pharisees of old, will be immune to the life changing message and will likely persecute the messenger. This is not new. But stay vigilant, stay alert, stay watchful. He is coming soon. Much sooner than you think.
Mark Hutzler, Eschatologist www.FullBibleTimeline.com