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LeapOfFaith89

The Wrong Appeal of Modern Christianity

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I was noticing a huge difference between what I read in the Bible and what most preachers I've heard promise in church. Most pastors seem to appeal to people's desire to attain stability and comfort through Christ. We pray to find a good job, have a house, financial security, and other basic comforts. In this way modern Christianity is very comfortable in it's faith in a way that it never was in the Bible. Jesus died for our sins, countless people have been brutally murdered for their faith, and Jesus openly told people to abandon the physical to walk with him. I don't remember where it was but there was this guy who wanted to follow Jesus but he kept on coming up with excuses about needing to take care of his aging parents and other things before he could follow. Following Jesus isn't supposed to be comfortable yet, modern Christianity has gotten very cushy in the last couple decades. Do you think this is problematic or just a difference in culture?

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I was noticing a huge difference between what I read in the Bible and what most preachers I've heard promise in church. Most pastors seem to appeal to people's desire to attain stability and comfort through Christ. We pray to find a good job, have a house, financial security, and other basic comforts. In this way modern Christianity is very comfortable in it's faith in a way that it never was in the Bible. Jesus died for our sins, countless people have been brutally murdered for their faith, and Jesus openly told people to abandon the physical to walk with him. I don't remember where it was but there was this guy who wanted to follow Jesus but he kept on coming up with excuses about needing to take care of his aging parents and other things before he could follow. Following Jesus isn't supposed to be comfortable yet, modern Christianity has gotten very cushy in the last couple decades. Do you think this is problematic or just a difference in culture?

 

Hi LoF, St. Paul told us this:

 

All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. ~2 Timothy 3:12

 

 

So you're certainly right in one sense, if life has become cushy for a Christian to the point that (for instance) every non-Christian they know is always happy to see them coming, that should be a sure sign to them that there is something wrong with their walk (esp since even "desiring" to lead a godly life in Christ results in persecution).

 

You are also correct about a number of preachers today and their, "health/wealth/prosperity", messages that go so far as to say that if you are not healthy/wealthy/prosperous, then that, not the lack of persecution, is the sign that something is wrong with your walk :confused:

 

However, the Lord said:

 

 

28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.

29 “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.

30 “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” ~Matthew 11:28-30

 

 

 

So in another way, our life in Christ is 'meant' to be comfortable/restful/easy (at least in the sense of having our burdens lifted as we walk together with Him in this life and, of course, as we look forward with joy to our life with Him in the age to come :)).

 

Yours in Christ,

David

 

 

 

"We know that God causes all things to work together for

good to those who love God, to those who are

the called according to His purpose"

Romans 8:28

 

Edited by David Lee
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While I do not think there is anything wrong with working hard and having creature comforts, I do think it is wrong to make life all about them. This is a temporary world we live in. When we focus on earthly rewards, then those are the rewards we will have.

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It is the pastors who preach prosperity and comfortable Christian living who ultimately cause new converts to "abandon their faith." God will always test us, in varying degrees to strengthen our faith. If we are living easy then our faith is not being tested, which would then cause one to pause and seriously consider their walk with our Lord. It is a guarantee that we will suffer for Christ, so anything short of that is just setting people up for failure, and a false sense of faith.

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It is the pastors who preach prosperity and comfortable Christian living who ultimately cause new converts to "abandon their faith." God will always test us, in varying degrees to strengthen our faith. If we are living easy then our faith is not being tested, which would then cause one to pause and seriously consider their walk with our Lord. It is a guarantee that we will suffer for Christ, so anything short of that is just setting people up for failure, and a false sense of faith.

 

I agree. Even on this board I find a steady but gentle opposition to challenge our beliefs beneficial.

 

God bless,

William

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I believe God when he says you have not because you ask not.

 

So do I ...

 

 

James 4:1-4

 

"1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

 

4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God."

 

 

 

Isn't is amazing when you read it in context!

 

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A person who is highly in touch with spiritual things will not care about material things. Most of his money and time will go toward the ministry. I find it difficult to believe someone can live a cigar smoking playboy life and also be a Christian. Also, I think it's highly possible a decent suburban existence is the sign of a weaker Christian, but not necessarily a spiritually dead one.

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I honestly don't see why having a comfortable suburban life would be a sign of a weaker Christian. Working hard and living quietly are good things, and people who do those things are a gift to society. The problem comes in when the churches make it sound like suburban success is the main evidence of Salvation, and many churches do that...

 

What seems lacking in American Christianity is love. There, of course, is plenty of friendliness, but genuine concern for the wellbeing of each other, and anything resembling commitment to a person with complex needs (especially when this person is a new Christian who repented as an adult) is almost nonexistent.

 

The church has also retreated from a stance against sin, having been accused of legalism. People are very good at identifying what we should or should not do, but they completely miss why. They completely miss the point that sin causes harm to ourselves and each other until the whole struggle against sin is reduced to something that closely resembles Isaiah 28:9-10

 

9“Who is it he is trying to teach?

To whom is he explaining his message?

To children weaned from their milk,

to those just taken from the breast?

10For it is:

Do this, do that,

a rule for this, a rule for that ;

a little here, a little there.”

 

Without the best benefit for everyone together, the ways of the Lord and the commands of Scripture become little more than a set of burdensome rules. But when we really desire for everyone to be safe, happy and well, everything the Bible is trying to teach begins to make a lot of sense.

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Many people believe that faith in God and praying to the Lord will help them live a comfortable life. In my opinion, this is a wrong opinion. You want a job, go the the Church and offer prayings. What if you don't get this job. YOu will stop believing in God? Jim Morrison (the Doors) has said in one of his songs, "You cannot petition the lord with prayers."

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I was noticing a huge difference between what I read in the Bible and what most preachers I've heard promise in church. Most pastors seem to appeal to people's desire to attain stability and comfort through Christ. We pray to find a good job, have a house, financial security, and other basic comforts. In this way modern Christianity is very comfortable in it's faith in a way that it never was in the Bible. Jesus died for our sins, countless people have been brutally murdered for their faith, and Jesus openly told people to abandon the physical to walk with him. I don't remember where it was but there was this guy who wanted to follow Jesus but he kept on coming up with excuses about needing to take care of his aging parents and other things before he could follow. Following Jesus isn't supposed to be comfortable yet, modern Christianity has gotten very cushy in the last couple decades. Do you think this is problematic or just a difference in culture?

 

 

I've seen it. I've even practiced it, but it's not Christianity. It's paganism. It's Idolatry.

 

 

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The Bible tells us in Mathew 6:38 that don't worry about anything on this world for it's already provided. Seek God's kingdom and everything else will be yours. It also says that Jesus was made poor so that by his poverty we will become rich. There are many verses but the point is that Christianity is not exactly cushion, it gives us confidence. If you trust in God you have confidence and you know that even though you suffer it's just temporary.

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I've seen it. I've even practiced it, but it's not Christianity. It's paganism. It's Idolatry.
I think when certain modern churches want proof of income before they let people join as a member, it certainly appears they are focusing more on this world than the next. I don't believe "Come to Christ but only if you earn over 50K" is part of the Bible's message, or at least not in the one I read. With that kind of requirement, is it a surprise their message may be focused more on the temporal than the spiritual? If the flock is viewed as income, the church won't want to make them uncomfortable or challenge their faith.

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I think when certain modern churches want proof of income before they let people join as a member, it certainly appears they are focusing more on this world than the next. I don't believe "Come to Christ but only if you earn over 50K" is part of the Bible's message, or at least not in the one I read. With that kind of requirement, is it a surprise their message may be focused more on the temporal than the spiritual? If the flock is viewed as income, the church won't want to make them uncomfortable or challenge their faith.

 

Wow Chatterbox, so it's come to that in some churches! That is really bad... I know churches back in the Southeast where I used to live used the tax deduction records to keep track of who gave how much, and my husband has seen worse. Scripture tells us to not your right hand know what your left hand is giving, so often I'd give cash, and they'd think I wasn't giving anything... Income requirement though, that's kind of frightening!

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I think when certain modern churches want proof of income before they let people join as a member, it certainly appears they are focusing more on this world than the next. I don't believe "Come to Christ but only if you earn over 50K" is part of the Bible's message, or at least not in the one I read. With that kind of requirement, is it a surprise their message may be focused more on the temporal than the spiritual? If the flock is viewed as income, the church won't want to make them uncomfortable or challenge their faith.

 

I would run, not walk, away from a church like that. Any church that puts that kind of emphasis on what you earn instead of how they are leading according the bible is not a church at all, but a scam. More than likely they are heavily into the prosperity gospel and is a blight on modern Christianity.

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I have no idea about all churches, but some churches take the Tithe as a serious commandment and might ask for last years Tax Return or W2 to determine income and inform a prospective MEMBER what their expected Tithe would be. The 'income test' for membership may be a misunderstanding derived from legalism over the Tithe. You can attend for free, but Members are expected to Tithe.

 

Just for the record, this is not something that I agree with, it is just something that I am aware of as existing. It makes sense from the perspective of Members agreeing to live by the Church's Statement of Beliefs and rules of conduct. I know of a Christian School where students and faculty are forbidden to play sports on Sunday. I view it as a silly rule, but if I took a job there, they would expect me to honor the contract I signed. I can see a Church viewing membership and Tithes the same way.

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I have no idea about all churches, but some churches take the Tithe as a serious commandment and might ask for last years Tax Return or W2 to determine income and inform a prospective MEMBER what their expected Tithe would be. The 'income test' for membership may be a misunderstanding derived from legalism over the Tithe. You can attend for free, but Members are expected to Tithe.

 

Just for the record, this is not something that I agree with, it is just something that I am aware of as existing. It makes sense from the perspective of Members agreeing to live by the Church's Statement of Beliefs and rules of conduct. I know of a Christian School where students and faculty are forbidden to play sports on Sunday. I view it as a silly rule, but if I took a job there, they would expect me to honor the contract I signed. I can see a Church viewing membership and Tithes the same way.

 

Honestly, if an elder or deacon came to me and said, "We need to go over your budget to make sure you are tithing the right amount." I would be heading straight for the door. What I give is between me and God and the leaderships role in this is just to tell congregants that they do have a moral obligation to give their tithe to the church at which they worship, and to basically give what God has put on their hearts to give.

 

The only church I have heard of that actually goes over your personal financials is the LDS. And we all know there are plenty of other issues with them to cause a true Christian to steer clear.

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I for one am actually upset about the lack of elder guidance, so I would be all for them having a talk about my finances. Having said that, I do not hold to the concept of the tithe for the NT church.

 

Elders could do this in a very constructive way. It would be a teaching experience, not a moralistic condemnation or controlling situation.

 

I might start a thread on this to explore it more.

 

Edited by thatbrian
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In the past when a particular church I was attending was having difficulty meeting its financial obligations (giving to certain charities, etc...) the pastor will do a sermon on giving, and it will usually include the doctrine of tithing, but will also go so far as to suggest that we "give till it hurts." You will never find a pastor of a true bible believing/preaching church that is comfortable giving that kind of sermon.

 

However, if you are struggling with this personally it is always good to talk to a Godly elder or deacon and find get their advice on this. There is the school of thought where you should tithe of the amount you want God to bless. Meaning if you want him to bless all of your income then you should tithe based on your gross (before taxes) income, otherwise you can tithe based on your net (after taxes) income. And see what God does with it.

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In the past when a particular church I was attending was having difficulty meeting its financial obligations (giving to certain charities, etc...) the pastor will do a sermon on giving, and it will usually include the doctrine of tithing, but will also go so far as to suggest that we "give till it hurts." You will never find a pastor of a true bible believing/preaching church that is comfortable giving that kind of sermon.

 

However, if you are struggling with this personally it is always good to talk to a Godly elder or deacon and find get their advice on this. There is the school of thought where you should tithe of the amount you want God to bless. Meaning if you want him to bless all of your income then you should tithe based on your gross (before taxes) income, otherwise you can tithe based on your net (after taxes) income. And see what God does with it.

 

 

I would consider preaching a sermon on tithing when funds are low, not the best way to handle the problem.

 

The pastor should simply say that the coffers are low.

Edited by thatbrian
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This world is fallen. People chase after security via money, career, marriage, family, health, etc. These things aren't bad in themselves but our deepest hearts are really seeking that which is lasting, eternal, true. The relief of God's forgiveness is better than anything!

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Interesting that this thread became a discussion about tithing. That seems to be the most important thing about church, money.

 

Modern Christianity is very comfortable, but it's not all the Pastors' fault. The congregations tend to get really upset when their personal comfort zone is violated. People these days find it nearly impossible to love their neighbors let alone love their enemies... You almost never hear sermons demanding that people repent ogf their sins either, it's all OSAS these days...

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Interesting that this thread became a discussion about tithing. That seems to be the most important thing about church, money.

 

Modern Christianity is very comfortable, but it's not all the Pastors' fault. The congregations tend to get really upset when their personal comfort zone is violated. People these days find it nearly impossible to love their neighbors let alone love their enemies... You almost never hear sermons demanding that people repent ogf their sins either, it's all OSAS these days...

 

I don't know. We have some good old "hellfire and brimstone" preachers around here. Of course, there are some too who say what they think people want to hear (especially the ones on TV).

 

I beg to differ on whether or not it's the pastor's fault. I guess I wouldn't really say it's his fault that people act the way they do (it's their choice). I would fault a pastor who didn't have the guts to preach the Word, out of fear that he would offend someone or make them uncomfortable. If we're not living right, we should be uncomfortable, no?

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"Tithing" is legally going well and a good practice among Christians. We "tithe" to the Greek-term "church" (from the original Hebrew "assembly or congregation" of the people of Israel spoken of in the Pentateuch). My husband is a good tither. But holds back now and then to send to my elderly parents the money instead, who need it most and to show our honor to our parents.

Edited by PsalmOneCares
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I think in a sense, this is true. People end up praying for their comforts a lot these days, comforts that we don't necessarily need, but rather just want. But at the same time, I don't think that serving the Lord needs to be done in suffering. I think you can maintain a great relationship with the Lord without having to make yourself suffer. We all struggle with something every now and then, and as for me, I treat that as my challenge to keep my faith stronger. I remain in strong faith with God, because I know He will not leave me in the times that I most need him.

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