Is Christianity All About Relationships?
News With Views (Link) - Paul Proctor (September 11, 2009)
�Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.� � Luke 6:26
It seems I am receiving a little extra email these days from troubled Christians who have had to give up a church, some friends and/or certain family members in order to remain faithful to God and His Word. I can tell you without hesitation that I certainly have � and on more than one occasion.
No one can lead you down the road of temptation quicker than a close friend, family member or fellow Christian. The downgrading of today�s �Church� along with society has clearly taken its toll on the brethren and is now driving many out the sanctuary doors to preserve their faith in Jesus Christ.
I heard Authority Research founder and director, Dean Gotcher, in a recent radio interview refer to the loneliness that results from the loss of such relationships as the taking up of one�s cross for Christ. When I respond to the heartbreaking email of readers who have had to leave their local church in obedience to God�s Word, I often reply with some empathetic encouragement and a link to a short piece written by A.W. Tozer titled: The Loneliness of the Christian.
For believers new to this column, I realize that the idea of sacrificing treasured relationships, even those we worship with, is probably a stark contrast to what you regularly receive from the pulpit of your local church and the lectern of your weekly Bible study class where most everything these days revolves around establishing, protecting, sustaining and maintaining relationships of all kinds, at all costs � a dangerous notion that is just not biblical.
�Can two walk together, except they be agreed?� � Amos 3:3
Simply put, it turns people into church worshippers who revere, embrace and obey the consensus of a congregation with a contrived unity rather than God worshippers who put His Word and Authority far and above the fellowship, opinions, theories, life experiences and personal tastes of well meaning Christians and clergy.
This Religion of Relationships has now all but taken over what is called �Christianity� and ought to be called what it really is: �Churchianity� � the worship of and faith in those who claim to be the �Body of Christ� � especially its leaders who treat their own counsel, conjecture, sermon stories and agendas as equal to or greater than the Word of God.
Those who embrace Churchianity will often respond to a rebuking scripture with: �Yeah, but�� as if to be able to trump it with some greater knowledge, wisdom, anecdote or seemingly contradicting verse from the Bible. This is the ugly arrogance of today�s humanistic spirituality and its self-serving, self-worshipping ways.
When listening to a fellow church member, teacher or preacher talk about the Christian life, how many times have you heard them cite that sacred slogan: �It�s all about relationships?� Baloney!
It�s about repentance and faith in Jesus Christ and our loving obedience to His Word, whatever may come � a faithfulness that will cost you more relationships than it will ever garner you! Our first love and loyalty is to Him, not our fellow man. That doesn�t mean we don�t take up the towel to wash feet, serve others, sacrifice ourselves and love our neighbor � it simply means they don�t come first in our lives � Jesus Christ does. That�s why we call Him �Lord� and not the brethren.
But, when we place our hope and faith in the redeemed rather than the Redeemer and put the words of men over the Word of God, we become no better than new agers who believe that God is in everyone and in everything � worshipping the creation instead of the Creator and in doing so, make ourselves gods to be praised and exalted with reciprocating adulation and acclaim.
�They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak.� � Psalm 12:2
If your Christianity isn�t costing you at least some friends and family, both inside and outside the church house, your hope and faith may have turned horizontal. If your Sunday gatherings have become flattery festivals where people are quoted and praised more than Jesus Christ, you might want to reconsider your church membership. If you have friends and family that hate God, but love you, it might be time to reexamine your witness for Christ and your commitment to Him.
�And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake.� � Luke 21:16-17
Take a sober and discerning look around your church next Sunday and tell me what you see. If it�s all about relationships there, it may be time to hit the door and go find your cross.
�Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.� � Matthew 10:33-39
This is a hard message, but it is possible to "love your neighbor" without walking in agreement with them when they walk contrary to God's Word. Being the one to point that out and declining to join in really is a good way to lose friends though, not because you don't love them, but because they will feel judged by you through God's Word and if unrepentant will rather continue on their path without you. The Bible is the foundation, and it is easy for man to judge one another outside of the framework of scripture. We should judge ourselves first according to scripture and understand first what it says, removing the plank from our own eye before helping our brother with the speck in his. In other words, make sure you yourself are walking the straight and narrow path that leads to Yeshua first.
Excerpt from The Loneliness of the Christian by A. W. Tozer
The loneliness of the Christian results from his walk with God in an ungodly world, a walk that must often take him away from the fellowship of good Christians as well as from that of the unregenerate world. His God-given instincts cry out for companionship with others of his kind, others who can understand his longings, his aspirations, his absorption in the love of Christ; and because within his circle of friends there are so few who share his inner experiences he is forced to walk alone.
The unsatisfied longings of the prophets for human understanding caused them to cry out in their complaint, and even our Lord Himself suffered in the same way.
The man [or woman] who has passed on into the divine Presence in actual inner experience will not find many who understand him. He finds few who care to talk about that which is the supreme object of his interest, so he is often silent and preoccupied in the midst of noisy religious shoptalk. For this he earns the reputation of being dull and over-serious, so he is avoided and the gulf between him and society widens.
He searches for friends upon whose garments he can detect the smell of myrrh and aloes and cassia out of the ivory palaces, and finding few or none he, like Mary of old, keeps these things in his heart.
It is this very loneliness that throws him back upon God. His inability to find human companionship drives him to seek in God what he can find nowhere else."