One of the things I’ve noticed over the last few years is the complete lack of self-examination most people calling themselves Christians are willing to do. I’ve had numerous people hawk their thoughts to me about what God is like, or how He shows His love vs. how He shows His displeasure, His nature, the End Times, how marriages are to work to remain biblical… on and on. But one disappointingly common pattern that seems to emerge from these discussions is the inability of the arguer to genuinely examine the belief, test it, question their understanding of it, and offer the explanation in a non-offensive way.
In fact, to a man (or woman), a person asked to explain why they believe what they do (but doesn’t really know why) gets defensive, somewhat angry, and begins to accuse the questioner of being inauthentic, blasphemous, or flat out, not a Christian at all.
Nobody answers to me about their salvation and I like it that way. There are a ton of things in this religion that are way above my pay grade. That being said, it is a bit disturbing that people professing to be following Jesus are unable to defend their beliefs. Even people who seem to know the Bible pretty well seem to have blind spots that I recognize as inaccurate teachings from the pulpit.
Frankly, I blame the emergence of the megachurch.
We have gigantic megachurches making church leadership rich and powerful, and it has translated in some Christian minds that it makes those pastors also truthful, or probably a better description, correct.
The existence of the megachurch has dumbed down accountability of its flock as well as its leadership.
It has subconsciously taught a lot of new converts that if God approves of you, you’ll get wealth to prove it. If He doesn’t, you’ll stay poor.
The huge amount of people causes a cult-like (or flock mentality) within the congregation. These churches operate much more socially than spiritually. They suck up tithes like an well-oiled machine, collect money for missionaries and building projects, but then they churn out nothing more than infant Christians, fooled into believing they are the true righteous beings because they study word for word each book in the Bible, go to a big, pretty church with a rich pastor, and other people in the church think they’re godly, just like themselves. Oh, and they are all literally looking for the Rapture to come in minute, thus getting to escape the judgement of an evil world they have already given up on.
They call each other titles to mark their superiority to the outside world, like Sister Ann or Brother Tim. Their leadership bears ridiculous titles of apostle or disciple. It isn’t really about God anymore by the time a church has gotten that big, no matter what anyone sitting in it might tell themselves.
Sadly, smaller congregations, still not big enough to make their pastors rich, often grade themselves in comparison to these huge, dysfunctional churches, believing that the bigger and more profitable something is, the better.
What a testament to America’s true god – The Love of Money. Every governmental system and division operates to churn out more. We hang on the stock market’s every dip and soar like it makes any difference in most of our lives. We judge our leadership by how much money he/she gave us, will give us, cost us, will cost us, and not on the myriad of other things being done. We need new roads, our politicians decline because of money. We need healthcare for everyone – too much money, they say. Immigrants want to be part of our country – we decline because we’re told they want to take our money. And we treat our God the same way. Do you approve of me? You give me money. Am I sinning? You take away all my money. Ridiculous.
Megachurches reflect almost perfectly the same attitude towards money, poverty, power, and God that our government does. They invite politicians to speak to their congregations, hoping to seal their own power, yet try to cloak the engagement in spirituality. They denigrate people “on the outside” who don’t truly understand their views, or may disagree with them completely. There is no meeting together to discuss and examine themselves, the Bible, the theology of a narrow opinion, or the mission we were given to take the Good News to every man, woman, and child. Nope. Just a harsh judgement on the fallen and infinite videos, teachings, and books about a rapture that is so close now, we don’t really have to do what we were told to by God. Right?
What I see now is a brittle understanding of God and how He can be used to enrich the lives of people in power. And because the motivation here is selfish, pastors aren’t teaching their congregations to be comfortable questioning long held beliefs, like why we think the nature of God changed sometime between the Old Testament to the New Testament, or the rapture, or illegitimacy of the “gods on earth” and “speak it into existence” crap being taught to people today.
I guess I say all of this only to point out – if you’re so geared up for the End Times, Armageddon, and the Anti-Christ that you’re building bunkers, stocking it with guns, non-perishable foods, and an encyclopedic understanding of the Mark of the Beast, but you can’t explain to me why you believe what you believe, you are prime prey for the Antichrist. There’s no mention of anyone sliding through the tribulation because of their bunkers and non-perishables. I’m not entirely sure God would admire that behavior either. Wouldn’t that be like hiding your talent in the dirt? I don’t think the Tribulation is going to be like Survival. The last one to die isn’t the winner. And I’m sorry to say, I’m not entirely sure the rapture is a thing. It would be nice to have a first class ticket out of here when the world literally goes up in flames, but I’ve found that if I have to twist, bend, reach, and scrape together a biblical theory, it’s usually not real.
The safe bet in the Rapture vs. No Rapture theory is to prepare to go through the Tribulation, which is laid out in excruciating detail in the Bible. If I’m wrong and the Rapture scoops you up, what is lost? But if I’m not, what happens to you then?
To me, being on guard about everything I’m told and testing it against the Word is how I can protect myself from being lured down the road to destruction. We all got a little taste of the intensely powerful skill of delusion when Trump was elected, and then defended by, professing Christian leaders. His life literally bears absolutely ZERO fruits of the Holy Spirit, but to this very minute, Christians are fooled by him. Prayers for the destruction of those who didn’t vote for Trump are sadly kind of common. Violence against anyone who doesn’t feel the same way plays out in front of our eyes daily, with God being a constant rally cry among those who are fooled.
There is an Us-And-Them attitude in the church now, where instead of looking at the unsaved as our mission, we look at them as our enemy.
And there’s literally nothing godly about that attitude.
A smart Christian will ask themselves to track their beliefs backwards and find out why they feel as they do, and compare it to the Bible and the God they know. They will ask themselves why are we being coerced to believe certain things about other people, and who stands to gain from that grudge. They will be shrewd in these last days, guarding with ferocity the truth in their hearts. That will serve us all much better in the coming chaos than bunkers and guns.