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How to Flush The Christian Toilet

18/10/2011

How to Flush The Christian Toilet.

Adrian Plass was an author and speaker, popular around the 1980’s and 90’s. He would not be an author that I would usually recommend, for his views were somewhat provocative, charismatic and ecumenical.  In a book called, ‘Clearing Away the Rubbish,’ Plass included a poem about the breadth of topics covered by books in the average Christian Bookshop.  He reeled off a list of cranky topics, everything from ‘Washing the Christian Hair’ to ‘Flushing the Christian Loo’.

Plass was accurate enough on this occasion, and his poem fulfilled its brief, for his sole intention (at the request of the Christian Booksellers Association, – the poem was first read at their Annual Convention) was to illustrate the versatility of the Christian Book ‘trade’.  Bookshops are full of products which purport to help Christians to live ‘the Christian Life’.

Unwittingly though, Plass highlighted another, more important matter.  Much of the literature which is produced by modern ‘evangelical publishers’ and ‘evangelical authors’ is HOW TO type literature.  The same situation seems to pertain in some modern evangelical pulpits, where the message is a kind of ‘therapeutic deism’ rather than the Christian Gospel.  In line with the message of the American ‘Church Growth’ movement, preachers are anxious not to offend, to give attendees a ‘positive experience’ of church, to provide affirmation and help build up self esteem, to adopt a ‘touchy-feely’ kind of easy-believeism.  Their objective is to identify what the people believe to be their needs, and to address those needs from the pulpit.  So preaching becomes a ‘how to’ exercise.  ‘How to raise your family’.  ‘How to have better sex’. (Yes – It’s been done!). ‘How to let go of your past hurts’. ‘How to heal your broken world’.  ‘How to flush…’.

I’ve been to a church like that.  A few Summers ago, while on holiday, I attended a service in a particular church.  I’d been told how wonderful this church was, and how it was attracting huge numbers. It was the way church was meant to be!  Curious and inquisitive, I decided to go along.  The church certainly was packed with people, and the welcome was warm.  In fact two church members gave up their seats so that we could be accommodated for the service, which I found to be very kind and welcoming in itself.  The praise was led by a band, fronted by a young lady who would not have looked or sounded out of place in the X Factor.  Leaving aside her appearance and her gyrating body movements, the hymns that she sang were reasonable enough and it was easy to join in.  The congregational singing was enthusiastic and everyone sang with gusto.

Then came the sermon.  It was an examination of Joshua’s conquest of Israel, and it was accompanied by PowerPoint slides and congregational participation, as the preacher asked questions and the people responded.  The sermon was about how Joshua overcame great obstacles to conquer the land, with God’s help.  We too have great obstacles in our lives, but we too can be conquerors.  Those obstacles could be broken marriages, childhood abuse, dysfunctional families, unemployment, sickness, but with God’s help, we too can overcome all these obstacles, and conquer the land for Jesus!  How to?  Follow Christ’s example of love and forgiveness, and spread peace.  The sermon concluded with a prayer, and suitably encouraged, we sang our closing hymn and departed.

Now, what was wrong with that?  The people were encouraged and everyone went home determined to love confident Christian lives, and to be more like Jesus.  Just one problem.  It’s not the Gospel.  It’s not the good news that we need to hear.  In this kind of preaching Jesus is no longer presented as the Saviour, who died at Calvary to save sinners, but as our example, our life-coach, someone who is an inspiration to us, whose job it is to do us good, to help us on our way, to make us better people than we are already.

But we’re not pretty decent people already, who just need a little help to improve our lives,- we are sinners, ruined by the fall, dead in our sins, unable to help or save ourselves, far short of God’s standards, we are condemned under the law, by our sin.  That sin has affected every part of our being – our emotions and our minds and our wills, we are utterly sinful.  We don’t need a self improvement plan or a life coach.  We need a SAVIOUR, and the only Saviour is Jesus, and the only means of salvation is though His atoning death on the Cross.

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for usfor it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree” (Galatians 3:13 ESV)

Jesus Himself said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:31, 32 ESV)

When it comes to salvation, to the weighty matter of people’s souls, to their eternal destiny, the ‘How To’ message is useless.  We can learn how to turn over a new leaf, clean up our act, improve our well being, boost our self esteem, raise nice families, be a better worker…  But nothing we do will get us to heaven.

 

We can only get to heaven through what Christ has done for us.

She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21 ESV)

And you were dead in trespasses and sins

—by grace you have been saved—

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:1, 5, 8, 9 ESV)

And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. (1 Corinthians 2:1, 2 ESV)

but we preach Christ crucified, (1 Corinthians 1:23 ESV)

From → Editorial

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