The Weak Western Church
I have continued reading John Piper’s book Spectacular Sins: And Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ, but a highlight I made in Piper’s introduction caught my attention. In our Western world we have been blessed by not suffering the persecution we see Christians suffering around the world. This has created weak Christians in the West. We argue over theology, politics, and morals but, are we ready for persecution? Are we ready for suffering? Jesus talks plainly about this when expounding on his parable about the soils found in Matthew 13:20-21:
As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. -ESV
Jesus points out that for some people they are quick to cling to the Gospel message, but when troubles come their way they are quick to abandon their new faith. These people are ones who flee from God when times get hard. They will turn on God when natural disasters hit. They will escape the persecution of those who hate God by denying God. Ultimately, they are not Christians at all. They have no faith because faith endures to the end and John Piper directs us to this truth in Spectacular Sins:
The coddled Western world will sooner or later give way to great affliction. And when it does, whose vision of God will hold? Where are Christians being prepared for great global sorrows? Where is the Christian mind and soul being prepared for the horrors to come? Christians in the West are weakened by wimpy worldviews. And wimpy worldviews make wimpy Christians. God is weightless in our lives. He is not terrifyingly magnificent. His sovereignty is secondary (at best) to his sensitivity.-Piper, John (2008-09-12). Spectacular Sins: And Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ (Kindle Locations 157-161). Crossway Books. Kindle Edition.
I fear that the lack of persecution has made the church in the West weak. I wonder how many people are the ones depicted in Jesus’ parable of the soils and have no clue because throughout their entire life they have never been challenged? They have never been faced with death because of their faith. They have never had to pay an extra tax for going to church. They have not had to meet in underground churches to escape persecution. I wonder how many people sitting in our churches on Sunday have considered themselves Christians for years, but would renounce God at the first sign of trouble? Piper’s main point is that our culture has emphasized God’s love and kindness at the cost of God’s justice and sovereignty. That is a recipe for weakness when disaster comes, and what is weakness’s result? Piper tells us a few paragraphs earlier:
It seems to me that Christians in the West are being coddled. We suffer little in the name of Christ. Therefore, we read the Bible not with a desperate hunger for evidences of God’s triumph in pain, but with a view to improving our private pleasures.-(Kindle Locations 144-146).
Many people in the West are not desperate for the Bible. People don’t know about God’s amazing mercy and grace through suffering because we don’t suffer much. People hear more sermons like “You Have Come Back Power”, thank you Joel Osteen, than we do about God’s holiness. There are thousands of “preachers” who preach about increasing our pleasure instead of God’s glory. When it is all said and done Jesus says:
And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.-Matthew 10:22
Jesus makes it clear that we will be hated for our faith, but true faith will endure to the end. I thank God that he is gracious and has his elect among the masses. But I fear that the church in the West is destroying itself with a weak Gospel message, and a weak Gospel message creates weak Christians. Don’t be weak.
Thanks for reading.
- The Day Evil Committed Suicide (AnotherChristianBlog.org)
- When Persecution Comes (AnotherChristianBlog.org)
Posted on June 12, 2012, in Christianity, Culture, Theology and tagged Christianity, Culture, John Piper, reformed theology, Spectacular Sins: And Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ, theology, truth. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.