Friday, September 12, 2014

Redirecting The Message

During a typical day, I'll read several blog posts, some of which I'll post on Twitter and Facebook. Usually, these posts kick-start my own thoughts, and I'll blog my responses and additional thoughts, hopefully doing more than simply regurgitating what I've read. For the most part, I believe I've benefited from the information and perspectives of other Christian bloggers. They sharpen my understanding of Scripture, and sometimes help me see more clearly why various trends in evangelical circles disturb me.

Today, however, I want to comment on a new fad that just begins to position itself on the spiritual horizon. Full disclosure: an off-handed remark Mike Abendroth made on Tuesday's episode of No Compromise Radio alerted me to the book that most likely will spawn this fad throughout evangelical churches, so I can't claim to be the first to recognize the coming bandwagon. But my fellow bloggers, as far as I know, have yet to discover this little aberration.

Pastor Kerry Shook and his wife Chris have co-authored a book called Be The Message. The premise, which sounds Biblical enough, promotes finding integrity between what we claim to believe and our day-to-day behavior. Okay, I can get behind that. Far too many professing Christians blaspheme the Lord's Name by continuing to live in rebellion against His commands.

Yet Kerry Shook's blog skews the Biblical teaching, making human behavior, rather than the grace of God, central in the Christian's witness. Rather than proclaiming the Gospel that the shed blood of Jesus provides the only atonement for human depravity, Shook and his wife maintain a focus on how we can exemplify Christlike lives. Consider this excerpt from his September 10, 2014 blog post:
We will never really experience all those good things we have in Christ until we live the message we believe. God is calling His people to be the message, to live the sermon, so the world, that is sick of hearing sermons, may see a sermon lived out! How can we be the message? How do we experience the power of genuine faith at work in and through our everyday lives? If I am going to be the message I must ask and answer some tough questions and be honest with myself.
The emphasis elevates us, not Christ. The message showcases our works when it ought to declare His  gracious strength in the face of our weakness. Certainly, the Holy Spirit inspired the apostle Paul to consider his frailties to best display the power of Christ:
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. ~~2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (ESV)
My fellow bloggers will soon be writing their own critiques of Be The Message, and I eagerly anticipate their comments. Because most evangelicals will, predictably, rush to this latest "Christian" craze, we'll need to remind people that the real message is in Jesus alone.

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