The Apostle Peter told us this:
1 Peter 4:17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?
A local pastor was preaching about judgment. He said that poor leadership and lawlessness are a judgment of God. Did you catch that? God will judge His church when they move away from Him. If Jesus spoke words of judgment to the seven churches in the Book of Revelation (Chapters 2 and 3), what would He say to us today?
I have often wondered about that since His two greatest indictments were to the successful churches in the seven listed.
1. He told the Ephesus Church: You left your first love, Me.
2. He told the Laodicean Church: You are lukewarm.
So why the title, ‘Toxic Christianity?’
Well, if we stay in the kind of spirit that we find in Revelation 2 and 3, it might go something like this:
1. Your Leaders are Compromising. As you read further in Revelation, you will see that not much has changed in thousands of years. If you were to outline these Chapters, you would discover how God is disappointed with those in charge of His church (Jeremiah 23, Ezekiel 34, and Matthew 23). The compromising leaders of Israel led people away from God in order to follow other gods in their day. The citations given by God to the leaders of Israel were stern warnings, and He condemned their compromise and their leadership.
2. Your Idols of Success. I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to idols. (Isaiah 42:8) The idols of today start with the idea that gifting is more important than character. We look for the gifting in our leaders, but often that gifting is no more than narcissism in disguise. God found character in the heart of a shepherd boy named David, and that is why David became the leader of Israel. Bigger is not more holy or anointed than smaller, and this is where we fall into the sin of success. Success with God is not how accomplished we have become … it is more about how faithful we have been to Him. We elevate successful pastors and Christian leaders, only to find out that they are as flawed as the rest of us. God shares His glory with no one, and personality-driven ministries are too susceptible to error and attack. Leave the personality worship behind and instead look for those who preach the uncompromising truth of Jesus Christ.
3. Your Teaching Emphasis is Wrong. To obey God is better than anything else. “But Samuel replied, “What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.”(1 Samuel 15:22) Even in preaching, the objective is for godliness … to turn the mind and heart over to God. The emphasis is on God's desire for faithfulness to Him. We love to preach about the promises of God, but we neglect the warnings of God. This is the weakness of the modern church today.
4. Your Exposure to Truth is Weak. We know that we are children of God and that the world around us is under the control of the evil one. (1 John 5:19) The Bible talks about having eyes that see and ears that hear so we can go beyond this world to get God’s perspective. If our world is under the influence of the evil one, it is easy to see why culture has become so perverted. This is why perversion has permeated every corner of society … it is being driven by Satan’s influence. God’s Word helps us to resist the culture and resist the evil one so he flees from us. People are afraid of truth because truth will tell the hard facts about God. Even as hard as truth often is, it will set you free. Truth exposes sin that cripples our lives and separates us from God. The truth of the Gospel is the only antidote we have against sin. Exposing the lies of the culture and telling the truth according to God’s Word, is lacking in many churches today. Weak churches mean weak people and ‘as the leadership goes, so goes the church.” ‘
5. You Have Not Connected What You See in This World to the Signs of My Return. Probably the biggest shock to me has been the lack of good teaching on the return of Jesus Christ. There is so much false prophecy being proclaimed today by people who call themselves prophets … but they are not prophets. Many preachers do not teach much about prophecy primarily because it has become a controversial topic, which can and does divide people. Prophecy was given to us to encourage us that no matter what the circumstances are, He is in control. The Bible tells us that the testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy. So, prophecy is really in the DNA of Scripture and should not be avoided … under any circumstance.
Toxic Christianity is as much about what is being left out as what is being told. Ask yourself these questions, “What things are we not being told that the scripture teaches?”
“Why are we afraid of some themes being left out in our teaching cycle?”
Toxicity is about being poisoned with harmful ingredients or information. Can we say that what is preached today is good for us? Or is it toxic? Toxicity can also be caused by what is not in our spiritual diets. A lack of some things can make a person physically toxic. That is why we need to preach and teach the whole council of God as found in the Bible. As the Apostle Paul says:
Acts 20:27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.
Challenging the Culture with Truth … Larry Kutzler
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