“Now I’m standing on the corner, all the worlds gone home,
Nobody’s changed, Nobody’s been saved,
And I’m feeling cold and alone
I guess I’m lucky, I smile a lot
But sometimes I wish for more than I’ve got
What about me, It isn’t fair
I’ve had enough, now I want my share,
Can’t you see, I wanna live
But you just take more than you give.”
~What About Me, Moving pictures
So much is taught on in today’s church. You could literally fill your calendar attending conferences on everything from prosperity to revival. Big time preachers fill big time venues with people clamoring to hear what they have to say. We chase every flavor of the month that comes down the pike, listen to the hottest band, buy the biggest book and subscribe to the latest fads. And yet, in the midst of all of these wonderful exhibitions of man’s oratory mastery and emotional manipulation, do we ever say, or hear, what actually needs to be said and heard?
On a local level, we faithfully (-ish) attend church on Sundays to hear messages that we soon forget and seldom put into practice. We try not to overlook asking God’s blessing on our day and to read our daily devotional. We are Christians and yet it is doubtful if many would be found guilty if they were charged with it in a court of law.
But let me ask you this, does any of what we fill our days with do any good at all when we neglect one of the most foundational elements of the Christian life? Does the newest hit by the hottest Christian band that moved you emotionally actually mean anything at all when your life starts, exists and ends with you?
The Apostle Paul wrote that one of the markers that we could use to determine where man was on the eternal timeline is found in 2 Timothy 3:2, “Men shall be lovers of their own selves”. Granted, there have always been selfish people but never on a scale like we are seeing today. It has practically become a religion in and of itself. In fact, it is a major evangelistic tool here in the early 21st century. The very best way to attract a crowd to your church or event here in America is to make it all about them.
This is true despite clear scriptural references to the satanic origins of selfishness and clear direction against it.
“Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s good.” 1 Cor. 10:24.
“Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” Phil. 2:4
The problem is foundational.
We hold meetings using lights, smoke, emotional appeals using music and offers for God to fix everything. We tell those who want a ‘Get out of hell free card’ to just raise their hands and repeat a prayer after us while no one is looking around.We then tell them to read their bible and pray and listen to Christian music and stop cussing and cut their hair and wear Christian clothes and stop smoking and stop lusting and pretend to be holy and say Christian words and…
Well, that’s about it. Oh, and give money and attend church.
But let me break down the true process of Christianity for you. You were dead, without hope and without God. God called you from the grave. You heard his call and repented. You met him at the cross. You died there. You were then buried with him in baptism. He then raised you to new life. You now live for him and no longer for yourself.
Contrast and compare.
My hypothesis (and it is a good one) is that it is kind of like Christmas has become. It is everywhere at this time of year. You have John Lennon singing about it on the radio, malls filled with shoppers and gifts, towns lit with blinky lights and wreaths, Santa appears at the local grocery store to hold screaming children on his lap and you are bombarded with commercials on what you should buy someone if you really loved them.
The problem is that none of it has anything to do with Jesus, Christianity or him being born.
In essence, most of what passes for corporate Christianity today is exactly like that. We used to be churches and Christians but now we have morphed into something else. And occasionally, we try to remember the true spirit of the thing in the midst of embracing all that it has mutated into. And the sad truth is that we prefer the perversion.
If we were to tell people the truth of Christianity, they would hate us. And having someone hate you is not good for business. I have actually had people say that one of the reasons they no longer attend our church was because they always felt like they weren’t doing enough, as if you could “do enough” to repay the debt of Calvary. And that hits at the heart of the matter, doesn’t it?
We want to give if it is given to us, pressed down, shaken together and running over. The thought of true ownership never crosses our minds. It is His money, not ours. We want to die but only as a symbolic act. We want to take up our cross if that means as little suffering as possible.
So, like corporate Christmas, we have become corporate Christians.
Every Christmas, you see some signs that tell people, “Jesus is the reason for the season!” We should place banners up in our churches on Sundays that remind people; “Jesus is the reason for this church, this life, this mission and this meeting”. Because we have forgotten that and have turned towards self and self-gratification as a replacement for what is too hard.
“The problem with Christianity is not that it has been tried & found wanting but that it has not been tried” G.K. Chesterton
Selfishness causes us to ask how a church meets our needs rather than how we can lay down our lives to further the work of God locally. Self causes us to engage in emotionalism rather than engage the real Spirit of God, who will burn up our chaff with unquenchable fire. Self will say that we don’t like being convicted, we would rather be encouraged. Self always seeks its own and hopes that God will bless it.
Love never does. Love never seeks its own. Love doesn’t leave. Love serves others first.
So, for this Corporate Christmas season for all of the Corporate Christians out there, I have rewritten a portion of scripture for use on Corporate Christmas morning. Just gather your friends and family around you and read this out loud. you will be blessed and affirmed and that’s what we all long for, right?
“If with the tongues of men and of angels I speak, and have not self, I will not make any money, or gain great fame for what I do; and if I have prophecy, and know all the secrets, and all the knowledge, and if I have all the faith, so as to remove mountains, and have not self, what do I get out of it? And if I give money away and feed others all my goods, and if I give up my body that I may be burned, and do not put my self first, then I will just suffer and how can I help others if I am suffering myself? No, let me first have all and lack nothing and then I will have enough to spare.
Self is not long-suffering, it is not really “kind” in the traditional sense, the self is glad to envy because that is how we get further, the self vaunts itself in order to promote itself, is totally puffed up because confidence in yourself is good, acts unseemly but it pays off in the end, seeks its own things, is easily provoked by things less than itself, imputes evil in order to better itself, rejoices over the unrighteousness because it makes it look better, and changes the truth to suit itself; all things it endures only because it wants to, all things it believes are comfortable, all things it hopes for it prospers from, all that it does, it gains from.
And now there remains the self, the world and the devil–these three; and the greatest of these is self.”
Merry corporate Christmas everyone!