Do you ever doubt your faith, or wonder if you could be getting it all wrong?
The prodigal son is truly the exception to the rule today.
The heartbreaking reality is that the church is in decline. More importantly, it’s the youngest generations that are turning their backs the fastest. Something like 59% of youth, raised in the church, will leave and never come back.
Why is this?
What the hell is going on?
I mean we have bright fancy lights and loud music. We have trendy pastors who wear ripped jeans and printed tee’s right? What more do these kids want?
Maybe the church is simply becoming less ‘relevant’. Maybe they are learning the ‘truth’ at school and university. Maybe it’s social media and the ‘fake news’.
Or is it something simpler?
As usual, I think the Bible can give us some clues as to why this might be happening.
The feeling or expression of (or to show) reverence and adoration for (or to) a deity.
When asked most Christians will give a well rehearsed answer to the question ‘What is worship?’ along the lines of ‘ohit means giving praise and honour to God’. Some might go a little further and say ‘oh yes, you can worship anytime, anywhere’.
No Christian I know would disagree that worship is something that you can do any time, any where. Prayer, communion, music – all these things count as worship.
In practice however, actual worship is something entirely different.
This post is debunking a very popular, and old, meme that has been circulating the internet for a long time and is titled “ten signs you are an unquestioning Christian”.
There’s a lot of misinformation out there about Christianity and Creation. Actually there’s a lot of misinformation out there about everything.
I can’t remember how I came across this anonymous placard. I just know that I’ve held onto it for years. I figured that one day if I happen to do something like say, start a blog, I would go through it point by point and explain why it was hogwash.
Because of course, if you don’t then you must be out of touch with the Holy Spirit, not in sync, not connected, not moving.
And if you’re not moving into a place where God wants you, then you’re not being swallowed up by the bosom of his loving love (who doesn’t want that?).
And that’s just about the worst thing you can be doing right now in your relationship with Jesus, not moving. Stuck, stagnant, in the same boring routine of being alive in Christ and having all your sins covered for eternity. Who wants to be stuck there? Not when God has so much more, for you!
So how do you figure out what God has for you (besides a lot of great coffee and campfire jam sessions)?
Well obviously you have to lean into the Holy Spirit, and open up your heart to His prompting…
How do you know when the Holy Spirit has spoken to you?
Because you’ll think He has!
The Holy Spirit will miraculously plant your glorious purpose and prompting in your mind in such a convincing way that you’ll be pretty sure it was the Holy Spirit, and you’ll be pretty sure you know what He said.
Just like all the biblical prophets were pretty sure they knew what they were being martyred for…
Well I’m pretty sure that’s how you do it, since that’s what I keep hearing. I’ll admit I have been having trouble tracking those instructions down in scripture however.
What God really has for you…
I’d like to think that the sarcasm above is obvious, except that the above is not too far removed from the kind of nonsense that I see everywhere today.
You could be forgiven for thinking I was being serious.
But I’m not.
Unfortunately however many pop Christian leaders, websites and profiteers are not being sarcastic. Check out this masterpiece for a great example of modern Christian babble.
So what then does God really have for you? Calling, purpose, destiny, whatever you want to call it, what is it?
Because this is the million dollar question these days right? At least it seems that way. All we ever seem to talk about these days is God’s ‘calling on your life’.
Since everyone seems so fascinated with it, I thought I’d help you guys out.
Are you sure you want to hear it?
It’s pretty great, it’ll blow your mind. Hold onto your hats because here it is. For you my friend, God has…
Pretty great huh?
Want to know what His plan is for your life right now?
Preach the Gospel.
Yep that’s it. Don’t fall off your chair.
Pretty simple right?
Maybe you were hoping for more of a Jonah in the fish kind of calling?
I think I know at least one reason.
One problem I see is that everyone today is so desperate to be unique, and have a unique purpose.
No one can really handle the fact that their life is not a massive botanical garden, but instead is probably more of an everyday front yard kind of garden. Just like the majority of other people’s everyday front yard kinds of gardens.
Not to mention that if God has so much more for you, then why would you waste time being salt and light in your own local neighbourhood? With so many fish in the sea, how much of an impact on God’s plan can you have, if you stick to your own little fish tank? That’s just going to hold you back, and no one wants to be held back from their ultra special, unique calling!
No, I’m sorry, but all sarcasm aside, God hasn’t promised you more. I mean, personally I’m baffled as to what more you could possibly want.
But it really is just as well because if he had, it’s a fair bet that it wouldn’t fill you with bounding ecstasy. Take a look at the (relatively few) examples of individuals in scripture who had a direct and specific ‘calling’ on their life and see if you think you have the stones to do what they did?
If more people took this verse:
“but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.” – Luke 12:48
a little more seriously, they’d be counting their blessings that they’re destined for an ordinary life of ‘mere Christianity’.
Except that there’s nothing really ‘mere’ about salvation.
Salvation is glorious. It’s incredible. It’s more than we deserve…
The message of the Bible for Christians today is actually really simple, and has been well established ever since it was first preached at Pentecost two thousand years ago:
“And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’” – Acts 2:21
God’s plan for your life? Just as simple:
“and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”” – Mark 12:30-31
How do you do this (love God and your neighbour)?
“And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”” – Matthew 28:18-20 (emphasis added)
Christ never promised anyone a burning bush. He gave you a Bible instead, and he called it ‘sufficient’.
Turn from your sin, follow Christ, and preach the Gospel… Everything else is filler
You have the Bible, you know what it says, now go and share the Gospel.
Everything we do comes back to this. Whatever we do for a living, we do to earn a living, to sustain us, so that we can live as long as possible, so that we can tell as many people about the offer of salvation, as possible!
Some people are fortunate enough to be able to make a living sharing the Gospel, and by teaching and discipling other believers to do the same. But even for the rest of us, our work is a form of service to the Lord (the Bible literally commands this).
We rest from our work, and our efforts of evangelizing, mostly so that we do not burn out from all the working and soul saving that we are doing.
Everything else that you learn about the Bible, about Christianity, theology, doctrine, apologetics, etc. all points back to this one basic message.
We affirm the Nicene Creed because it’s crucially important to know who this Christ is that we’re following.
We study apologetics because we need to be equipped (as the apostles were) to both share and defend the truth of God’s Word.
The Word of God from front to back, teaches us what sin is, how to turn from it, who God is, who Christ is, what His ultimate plan for creation is, what the ‘Gospel’ is and what we do with it (y’know, among other things).
The more Christians use increasingly ambiguous language to innovate how we express this truth the more disconnected it becomes from the Word of God. It leads people into thinking there may be more to it than there is. When you labour on ‘what God has for people’ it implies that there’s something more to it than the obvious.
What concerns me more however, is that this is really just a ploy. A pseudo biblical way of making the Gospel sound attractive to pleasure seekers (or pain avoiders). Christianity is commonly described as a ‘journey’ that one is on, a completely abstract journey with no obvious beginning or end, really because it’s just a nice thing to say.
If you’ve given your life to Christ, there’s no journey, you’ve already arrived at your destination – eternal life. This vague idea of a journey, or calling, or higher purpose, creates a false feeling of importance; as if you’re somehow special; as if somehow the Gospel is more about you than God.
Other Christians lament over God’s silence ignoring the fact that God’s Word is right in front of them. False teachers conjure up nonsense about how you need to just keep pressing in, and leaning into the Holy Spirit and wait patiently until those abundant blessings begin to pour out!
Of course that’s not what the Bible says.
The Bible says be prepared now because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you know not when!
And what kinds of blessings are we talking about here anyway? Money? Happiness? Security? Purpose?
They sound a lot like those non-eternal type treasures that Christ specifically warned us about avoiding.
If you consider yourself a Christian, and have received eternal life, but you are endlessly seeking ‘more’, then you are basically saying: ‘Lord, your death on the Cross was not enough for me’.
Let that sink in.
Yes, yes I know that God made things for us to enjoy and as Christians we have this wonderful liberty to enjoy the life we have. We’re not commanded to be ascetics. But this joy and abundance of life is the only thing that too many Christians are concerned about. No, I’m sorry, but as long as there are still people on earth destined for God’s wrath and judgement, who need to hear the Gospel, then your responsibility lies with them.
Call me old-fashioned, but I think it’s time to stop wondering about what God has for you. I think it’s time to start telling other people about what God has for them.
Prayer is to Christianity what salt is to peanuts.
It’s a big important idea in Christianity.
If you were in a primary school classroom and asked the students to randomly say ten things that came to mind when they thought of the Bible and Christians, it’s a pretty sure bet that prayer would be on the list somewhere.
Editors note: this is a follow-up post from my previous one. I recommend reading that one first which you can find here, otherwise enjoy.
In my last post I explained what a Christian is and why being a Christian is not as simple as just receiving God’s grace. I explained that we cannot earn our salvation through good works because we are all sinners. When we confess our sins, and accept Jesus Christ as our saviour we receive God’s grace.