matt chandler, speaking from Ecclesiastes, admonished the believer to remember the gospel at the Wednesday night session at the Gospel Coalition. in pure 1 timothy 4 style, we were reminded to continually go back to, be submerged in, and be renewed by the gospel truth of Christ, God’s grace in the cross, the Hope for all.
chandler briefly touched on the deadly assumption that all pastors and ministers are believers. he made reference to Romans 12- Do Not CONFORM to the Pattern of this World but be TRANSFORMED. the Christian life requires a transformation that God alone initiates and completes. too often young people grow up in the church and, being fully immersed in the church culture, blindly believe that if they simply CONFORM to the pattern of the religious culture, they will be saved.
they learn the talk. even, perhaps, pursue the ministry. they covet their church membership and may even be willing to cheerfully remain at church when the sermon goes a few minutes late. they make much of Christ- so that much will be made of them.
they receive praise when they make a confession of faith. praise when they preach a sermon. praise when they share about the darkness of their sin and their need for the cross. and the praise of man drives their religious passion.
oh how easy it is for us to rely on a religious pattern, a christian mold instead of true transformation.
Church may we, ever so urgently, preach christ crucified to save sinners. may we admonish our members to make much of Christ out of pure intentions of a regenerated heart. may we, with the authority of the scripture, prayerfully dependent on the Spirit, divide the soul and shine a light on the intentions and motives of the heart.
i am often asked ‘why do so many teens leave the church after they graduate.’ perhaps the issue of the christian mold can give us some insight. too many children have been told that they need to join the crowd, become a member, pray they prayer and avoid secular culture. too many have done so out of the motive of self glory. to earn approval: the approval of family. the approval of friends. the approval of a pastor. even the approval of God. their desire is the approval of men. a righteousness rooted in their good works- that which conformed them to the pattern church member. because their motive is approval, then their step away from the church is simply a stop along that same pursuit. they joined the church for the approval of man and they leave the church in search of that continued approval.
their proclamation of Christ was never about his glory nor of god’s grace. it was only a means of receiving personal praise. so is their rejection of the gospel among a culture that views the church as judgmental and irrelevant.
in the end. the unregenerate church member who speaks right and lives right but dies without Christ is no different than the teen who ran from the church and immersed himself in the idols of this life.