(You can listen to this article as you read and pause the audio to follow page links, then, resume the audio when you are ready. Please note that I use page links in lieu of references or footnotes for important details.)
A few years ago I was suffering with middle to lower back pain and an ugly rash over my torso. After several failed attempts to diagnose and treat my increasing discomfort, my family doctor referred me to a dermatologist, but with no success.
Next, my doctor sent me to an exotic disease specialist. Complete failure.
All these medical professionals kept saying they could not find a reason for the spreading rash or awful back pain.
Next, I was sent to an urologist. The urologist was unable to diagnose the problem with blood and urine test so he tried a cat-scan and finally an MRI. Still in a quandary, he decided to treat me with antibiotics. First one kind and then another. No results.
He could see my pain was increasing to the point of becoming debilitating, so he tried yet another and different antibiotic and he increased the dosage.
Finally, after nine months, he gave up.
My wife, an avid reader, suggested, or rather demanded, that I stop all medications. I was taking a cholesterol medication and a blood pressure pill. I protested saying I might die! Whereupon, she insisted that my incessant complaining was going to kill her first!
So I quit my meds.
Within two weeks my rash and all my pain was gone.
We suspected the culprit was the cholesterol medicine. I told my family physician. So, he prescribed a different cholesterol medicine. The pain returned. So he tried another. This time both the rash and the pain returned. He tried another, the pains returned. Finally, the doctor proclaimed me allergic to cholesterol medicines!
I turned to proper diet, free from ‘bad foods’, regular daily exercise and I have become healthy.
It wasn’t the high cholesterol – it was ‘the cure’ which was killing me.
I guess I shouldn’t blame my doctors. They were just doing for me what they have done for everyone else. You could say, in a funny way, they were pandering to my needs. But, I am not everyone else and the traditional treatments did not work on me. I needed THE CURE.
WHICH REMINDS ME
We visited a local church fairly recently. They list themselves as “Non-denominational” but, with prompting, they will admit they are actually Southern Baptists. We entered their big auditorium and took a seat. The ‘lead pastor’ arrived with a bottle of Perrier, perched himself upon his ‘preaching stool’ next to an acrylic podium.
He greeted the crowd with a friendly smile and introduction. But, I missed some of what he said because my attention and thoughts had been drawn to the tattoos down his left arm, his Hawaiian flowered shirt, his worn-looking jeans and his Millennial-style language. In my era we would have called him a hipster I guess, except that he is 50 years old.
His ‘sermon’ was preceded by a slick video of a house and flower garden. The subject was “Living a Healthy Life”, which was taken from the book of 1st Corinthians, I think.
He read and quoted scriptures. But, his perspectives were solidly based on a postmodern worldview. His appearance and language and message seemed incongruous with the Gospel.
I’ll make this short by saying that after I met some of the prospective members in a new member’s introduction class I formed an opinion. Everyone in this group said they had been Christians for a number of years. But, what struck me was how little they knew about what they professed about Christianity. Most of what they said sounded more like advertising sound bites.
I already knew a few people who have been long-term members of this church. They are friendly and nice people. And I know of their lifestyles, practices and habits which also strike me as incongruous with what the Bible and the Gospel teach.
On another occasion, a friend visited a nearby church. I’ll save you the buildup. It was almost the same. But, this time, the pastor was wearing pointy leather shoes, leather pants and a white fluffy shirt with ballooning arm material. To me, he looked like a pirate who had strayed from his ship.
I think the music damaged his hearing and the strobe lights partially, although temporarily, blinded him (exaggerating here). He might have told me more, but he said the stage smoke obscured his view.
He could not tell me exactly what this preacher-man said, but, he thought it was a religious motivational speech. It had the “twenty-somethings” sort of cheering.
My friend said he left early. Said he felt uneasy, uncomfortable and a bit sick to his stomach from what he had experienced.
I’ve been wondering why so many in the post-modern church have become what I call “entertainment oriented religious consumers“? I think, in part, it is because that is what the churches are selling.
So many in the postmodern American Church are struggling in their personal and private lives. So many are caught in a web of addictions and sin. So many are stressed out and on medications for relief. “WHY has this happened?”, I wondered.
One recent morning at breakfast, my wife and I were discussing these experiences and these matters, and she casually made the comment, “They are pandering to the culture”.
“What?”, I asked.
“Those churches” she replied, “They are pandering to the culture“.
“WOW”, I thought. “That is exactly right! Brilliant!”
Now, just between just you and me, I was not exactly sure what the word ‘pandering’ really meant, so, I looked it up.
Here is what I found at Dictionary.com:
followed by the word Panderer. A noun,
a person who furnishes clients for a prostitute or supplies persons for illicit sexual intercourse; procurer; pimp.
a person who caters to or profits from the weaknesses or vices of others.
a go-between in amorous intrigues.
Verb (used without object)
to act as a pander; cater basely: to pander to the vile tastes of vulgar persons.
“Oh my, That’s it!”, I thought. Dare I say it? Somehow these guys seem to think that when the Apostle Paul said, “I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some.” that he meant we are to BE like them in order to win them to Christ. But, that is just wrong on every level!
IMMATURE, UNSTABLE (AND NUTS)
Yes, try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything you can to save some. But, becoming like the world, living like the world, looking like the world, talking like the world in order to save the world is a perversion of the Apostle’s meaning as to “gaining men”. And, it’s just immature, unstable and nuts!
Hey, Hipster: Jesus alone, saves. Your apparel does not save, tattoos don’t save, loud music flashing lights deliver a false emotion and being a hipster does nothing.
It isn’t the culture killing the church – it is the ‘postmodern cure’ killing them.
I guess I shouldn’t blame these hipster preachers. They were just doing what their contemporaries are doing for the world. You could say, in a funny way, THEY ARE PANDERING TO THE CULTURE. But, Church is not the world! And the traditional treatments will not work on The Church and those seeking help. They need THE CURE, which is the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
So, here is what I have to say to some of you preachers: GROW UP. Become mature and stable. Psssst. More are leaving and staying away from the church than are coming to see you clowning around in your ‘pretties’ on stage.
YOU ARE TO BE IN THE WORLD, BUT, NOT OF THE WORLD
There is a day at hand, when people will run to and fro, looking for answers to their greatest dilemma, and that time is NOW! Listen, friend:
WHEN JESUS IS LIFTED UP – HE WILL DRAW ALL PEOPLETO HIMSELF John 12:32
Lift Him Up!
Your Brother and Friend,
PS: If you are a preacher or a pastor, and you are offended by this and reject this, then hear what John the Baptist said so succinctly, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?”