Is Christianity a beautiful theory that doesn't work? You would sometimes be tempted to think so to see the implosions that go on within Christian organizations. I'm talking about ministries whose raison d'être and main export is the gospel, that are self-styled custodians of truth---and riddled with internal strife. There are not many options left in the room: Either the gospel is a flop or the people are.
"If the people are a flop," someone might say, "that still means the gospel is a flop, because it evidently doesn't pan out when applied in the crucial experiment of human nature." What good is it to say, "A gentle word turns away anger," or "Forgive as God has forgiven you," if you can't find a single person who will do it.
First of all, you can find more than a single person who will do it. And it's refreshing to find them.
Secondly, "What if some were unfaithful? Does their unfaithfulness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar" (Romans 3:3-4). The population of heaven may be smaller than we thought after all. Notice how Jesus doesn't answer that question directly:
"'Lord, will those who are saved be few?' And he said to them, 'Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able" (Luke 13:23-24).
Many will enter by the skin of their teeth:
"Now if anyone builds on the foundation [of Christ] with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw---each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire" (1 Corinthians 3:12-15).
What are those "works" 1 Corinthians 3 is referring to that we are supposed to "build on the foundation"? Well, no one is ever asked by God to tackle world peace or divorce or homosexuality. We are asked to love the person we share an office with, or a bed with. We are asked to die for them, in all the little ways you can die in the course of a day.
My impression is that Christianity becomes a failed theory when it becomes reduced to a program. That's always detrimental to the Church. When Christianity becomes programmatic, a compartmentalization occurs. The program administrators aren't counseling out of their lives anymore but out of rote programs and formulas.
How does Christianity devolved into a program? We get too busy to pray and read God's Word. If we were in God's Word daily, he would be reminding us constantly to be "always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies" (2 Corinthians 4:10).
I don't believe a Christian nation ever became apostate because of Liberalism, or Materialism, or the Enlightenment, or Persecution. I think it always starts the day you get out of bed and have to skip the Bible reading this morning because you have an early appointment.
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