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A SHALLOW GOSPEL

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Shallow_Gospel

Galatians 1:6-7 - 6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 which is really no gospel at all.


I’m on a bit of a campaign. A battle, so to speak. It is not new. It is a battle that began in me nineteen years ago, and one I have unfortunately lost too often over the course of that time. But lately, I have felt God’s battle horn sounding deep in the recesses of my soul, stirring my lethargic faith to once again pick up the sword and go to war. And this time around, I feel it necessary – or to put it more accurately, I feel compelled – to invite you, the church, to come with me.

What is this battle you ask? Let me explain. In my Growth Group earlier this year, we were studying Galatians 1:6-7 and the question arose, “What false gospels are we prone to buy into?” It is a good question, and one worth asking regularly. The answers were as you would expect: prosperity gospel, unitarianism, secular spirituality. But my thoughts went elsewhere. To a false gospel that is harder to recognize and yet one that I think has rendered the church, particularly the American church, void of any substantive power or voice in our current fast paced, entertainment driven, digital age: a shallow gospel. A gospel that simply teaches to believe in Christ, say a prayer, attend a church service, be entertained or inspired, and go home. Nowhere in any of the Bible will you find such an experience with Christ described. Far from it. Instead, Biblical Christianity is an all encompassing personal devotion to Christ – His Teachings, His Church, His Presence, His Mission – marked by a personal following of the Holy Spirit.

Nineteen years ago I was ready to leave the Church and Christianity behind because I found it lacking. I had devoted every Sunday and Wednesday to it for the entirety of my life. Yet, aside from a few moving moments and some good friends, I didn’t really feel that interested in God. Do you hear that? I was bored. BORED WITH GOD!! In his book, Letters To The Churches, Francis Chan recounts Revelation 5:11-14 which describes the Throne Room of God and the thousands of angels and all of creation singing “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain!” (What a scene!) Chan then asks this question: “Can you imagine being in that setting and feeling bored? Feeling like you needed something more? Wishing people were being more attentive to your needs?” Everything in me says no! Of course not! And yet, after seventeen years in the church, that is exactly where I was. BORED. Why? Is it because God is boring? NO!! It's because the Christianity I was handed by loving, sweet people, was shallow!! No one taught me how to have an all consuming relationship with the Almighty. No one taught me to hear His voice. No one taught me the spiritual practices necessary to cultivate a deep relationship with God. Instead, I had been taught to sit in a service and listen and go home to try my best to be a good person who believed in Jesus. Does that sound like a person alive with the power of the Holy Spirit? No! It sounds like a bored teenager ready to walk away from a God who is far deeper and more alive than I could have ever fathomed. No one had taught me to swim in those deep waters!

But our God is gracious beyond measure! And in the summer of 2001 he pursued me and blessed me with a profound peek into His greatness. I had what I can only describe as a life altering encounter with the God of Ages. I realized in that moment that it was not God who was boring and shallow, it was the shallow gospel I had believed. So I began a journey to learn how to have a true, deep relationship with God. How to seek Him and hear His voice. And along the way I have discovered many who have been ready to leave Christianity behind because it offered little of real substance – which cannot be further from the truth!

But I have also discovered many more who are walking with Christ in deep, awe and love filled relationships. And they have and are becoming my mentors, near and far, on pages of books and in person. It is my desire through this blog and other endeavors to fight against the shallow gospel of our age by teaching spiritual practices for a deeper relationship with God, and I’d like for you to join me. Start here and now with reflection around these questions:

  1. How regularly do you connect with God on a deep, spiritual level?
  2. If you listen closely with your soul, do you hear God calling you to experience more of Him?
  3. Has your pursuit and relationship with God become routine and boring and shallow? If so, what has led to this state?
  4. Are you willing to change your regular life routines and schedules in order to cultivate a deeper relationship with God?

 

19 Comments

Makes me think of Bonheoffer's "cheap grace." It is good to always emphasize the Cost of Discipleship--the title of Bonhoeffer's book. However, let us not take the easy off-the-shelf social-justice platitudes of the world as our slogans. Let us hold high Jesus' standards which outshine all the easy nostrums the world has to offer. We must personally engage Christ as Lord in his word, and engage the world with the gospel--not by parroting its slogans. Christ's church is at a critical juncture and we must be very wise in how we engage and what we say.
Pastor, a year and a half ago I too was thinking of walking away from my faith. I had therapy Jesus, who was supposed to make me into what I thought I should be, and when He didn't make me that, I questioned my faith. Thank God my doubts caused me to look deeper and I got a look at our holy, righteous, sovereign, beautiful, powerful, loving merciful God, who had expectations of what he wanted me to be and do. I saw that He is so worthy, that my life can be about Him, and not me.
II need to remember who GOD is. Not only is He my Benevolent Father, He is the Master Creator of all things , my Savior who sacrificed His Life so I may have an eternal relationship with Him . God is not who I want Him to be He is who He is : unchanging.
So many want God to be a mix of Buddha, Mohammed, New Age , Great Human model of how to live. But without His death and resurrection we would still be dead in our sins!
Thanks Shelton.
I am distracted, anxious, angry by all “the breaking news”. So I asked myself why do I have to know all the worlds crisis’. So I listened to the Lord during my quite time (not much quite) and I heard “why do you need to know all this worldly chaos. So I asked God to help me stay away from social media and msm.
I can;t do this on my own. I need The Holy SPRIRT to help be do this. And then your blog comes into my email. I need this sooo much right now. Thank you so much. God is always right on time. Thanks Shelton
I will be joining you every day!
Welcome back Markham family. I am setting aside time to join you, Shelton, on this journey!
Sold out! Count me in
We're with you brother, lead on!
I was beginning to do well with all this and really making some progress. Then between pandemic and unexpected financial challenges I began to get distracted constantly, not being able to complete one thing before another took over. Anxiety and forgetfulness and tiredness took over. This blog will be good for me, Shelton. Thank you.
Question number 4 is the question now, isn’t it?
Oh, yes. And #1 & 2 also. And 3....
Thank you Shelton.
Thanks Shelton!
We just read through this as a dinner devotional.
The questions are challenging if I’m honest with myself. Verdict is still out.
Father, teach me how to love you better.
Praise God ! That has been the burden of my heart. Gaining more understanding of the Glory of God , learning to Abide in Him, increasing in the Knowledge of God, rejoicing always in Him. . The Men’s Group on Sat am in digging into My Utmost For His Highest and it is wonderfully profitable. Thank you for your heart to deepen our relationship with our Father!
Praise God ! That has been the burden of my heart. Gaining more understanding of the Glory of God , learning to Abide in Him, increasing in the Knowledge of God, rejoicing always in Him. . .
The Men’s Group on Sat am in digging into My Utmost For His Highest and it is wonderfully profitable. Thank you for your heart to deepen our relationship with our Father!
I feel like I'm going through a dry period and even though I'm all in I needed this challenge. Looking forward to your next blog
I’m ready.
I’m ready.
Praise God! Lord, open our hearts and minds to hunger and thirst after You alone. Release Your Spirit to invade our lives that we may see You in the everyday and hear Your voice with clarity and Joy. Be Glorified in all we do and say, we give You permission Lord to make us Your Holy people. In Jesus Name Amen
Praise God! Lord, open our hearts and minds to hunger and thirst after You alone. Release Your Spirit to invade our lives that we may see You in the everyday and hear Your voice with clarity and Joy. Be Glorified in all we do and say, we give You permission Lord to make us Your Holy people. In Jesus Name Amen
Reformed Theology. Our Lord bless you and guide you brother.

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