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Devotionals

The Machiavellian Church -- Easter Bunny Edition

By       Message Anthony Wade       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink

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828ministries.com Headlined to H3 3/27/18




And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." -- Matthew 28: 18-20 (ESV)

Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli was an Italian Humanist Philosopher who wrote during the Renaissance. His most famous work was a book entitled, "The Prince." This work was largely about corrupt politicians, which Niccolò had seen up close and personally. Within this examination Machiavelli proffers the notion that for some people the ends justify the means. In other words if you have a goal, how it is achieved is irrelevant. This has become a large rallying cry for many humanist thinkers moving forward from this age to the present. We even see politicians of today using their election victories to dismiss abhorrent behavior along the way. As if the means are justified by the end result. I expect such humanistic thinking from the world. It does not surprise me that people not beholden to God would see things so amorally and selfishly. The problem is that the church today seems to as well.


On many levels this should not be surprising to us either as the church has spent the better part of the past twenty years trying desperately to find relevance with the world. There are two days of the year that this crystalizes for us to examine clearly; Halloween and Easter. Halloween is the easier of these two as no Christian should be celebrating the Devil's holiday. Yet every year there is another Christian leader coming out to defend dressing children up and having them beg for candy. Easter however is a more difficult day to argue because it seems harmless and I get that. Heck, I am not even speaking about what you do at home with your family. I am speaking about what the church should be in the business of endorsing. I remember years ago, now disgraced pastor Mark Driscoll wrote an op-ed for a national newspaper defending why his now defunct mega church celebrated Easter. After some blustery talking points that had zero biblical substance, he finally revealed the real reason:

Just as early missionaries didn't reject or receive the pagan holiday of Eostre but rather redeemed it for Jesus, we too seek to redeem the cultural practices we observe in the U.S. without letting them overshadow Jesus and his Resurrection, and without making us completely irrelevant or even antagonistic to cultureand those weird Christians on the block, the ones everybody tries to avoid because they believe that being for Jesus also means being against fun. -- Mark Driscoll


I do not even choose to debate the "pagan" origins argument because there are so many better reasons to not celebrate Easter as the Church. The truly sad and convicting part of Driscoll's defense here is that he does not wish to become irrelevant to the dying community around him. In his striving for relevance, as with the church as a whole, we no longer look like the church. That is why when a subject like this come up so many well intended Christians think it is no big deal to have an Easter egg hunt after church services or even have a someone dressed as the bunny himself to take pictures with the kiddos. When questioned about such practices, pastors and lay persons alike will offer up the same Machiavellian logic -- it's all for Jesus! We have a goal as Christians, just see the key verses, and the how of getting there has been erased by years of the dominionist NAR agenda spreading like a cancer throughout the church. The funny thing is in the key verses I do not see Jesus instructing us to trick people into hearing the Gospel! Yet when defending the indefensible, the refrain offered is usually something along these lines:


"Well of course we know they need Jesus but they do not know that yet. So we need to draw them in somehow. We know Easter is not about bunnies and chocolates but as long as they hear the truth about Jesus it's a win win. People who would otherwise not come to church will." -- The Ghost of Niccolò Machiavelli

So let us reason together beloved and consider some of the reasons why this logic is so flawed and unbiblical. The first reason is simply that God does not ascribe to Machiavellian philosophy. The means are far more important to God than the ends. I remember watching local church folk destroy a pastor and after getting their way, they would still show every Sunday raising their hands. I wondered sadly who they could possibly worshiping? Beloved, the Gospel is the most important thing in this life on this planet because the Bible says that it alone has the power to save someone. Do not confuse that power with anything you have personally. God does not need us. He is God all by Himself. The Bible says that if we would not worship Him then the very rocks would cry out. The Bible says that the very creation groans to God! The next time you think you have figured out the secret sauce to trick unbelievers into showing up at your church so you can mug them with the Gospel, consider this strong warning from Job:

Will you speak falsely for God and speak deceitfully for him? Will you show partiality toward him? Will you plead the case for God? Will it be well with you when he searches you out? Or can you deceive him, as one deceives a man? He will surely rebuke you if in secret you show partiality. Will not his majesty terrify you, and the dread of him fall upon you? Your maxims are proverbs of ashes; your defenses are defenses of clay. -- Job 13: 7-12 (ESV)


God does not need us to speak deceitfully for Him and do not pretend that is not what we do when we host Easter egg hunts. God does not need you to plead His case! How does His majesty not terrify you! You do not have the power to save -- only God does! As Paul teaches us, we might plant or water but only God gives the increase!


The second reason we should not have anything to do with Easter as the church is that the premise is false. Re-read the key verses again. Do they have anything to do with church? No beloved. The Great Commission was about going outside the church to bring the Gospel. The problem is the Purpose Driven church movement has made everything about growing your individual little silo. Success is not marked by saving someone but by "churching" them. In order to accomplish this, Rick Warren had to flip the purpose of church on its ear. Instead of raising the sheep it now catered to the goats. Any fair reading of the Book of Acts shows a church that was about growing sheep into vertical maturity in the Lord, while leaving any horizontal growth, up to God, who alones provides such growth. Wait a minute preacher! Are you saying we should not invite our unsaved friends to church? Of course not! Where else will they hear the Gospel! What I am saying is we do not market the church to them. The things of God are foolishness to them, which is why pastors try to lure them with Easter egg hunts. The church should not feel like a time share scam from Hurricane Hole. When you insist on following NAR purpose driven theology then you only end up starving your sheep and falsely converting your goat visitors. This brings us to sunny point number three.

Compromise begets more compromise. In a vacuum, one Easter egg hunt is not a big deal. It is what it represents however for the compromising church that is the real problem. If you dismiss sound biblical correction by pretending this is all for Jesus then what else are you willing to compromise for Jesus? Hillsong turned Silent Night into a raunchy burlesque show last year. Andy Stanley had his worship team do a set of boy band songs from the 1990s during worship. Jesus taught that a little leaven leavens the entire lump eventually. We stay true to the Gospel because any deviation from it will only lead to further deviation. At the time Mark Driscoll wrote that op-ed he was one of the most popular pastors in this country and had in excess of 15,000 people attending Mars Hill Church in Seattle every week. His downfall was quite stunning as it ended with him being thrown out of the Acts 29 group he founded and being caught stealing over $200,000 from tithe monies to falsify his latest book as a NY Times Top Ten bestseller. I am not saying that the Easter Bunny compromise was directly causative for these later compromises but one can draw a straight line from the bunny to the book. How far will the next compromise go beloved? Unchecked we can end up where Rick Warren is:


"Let them know about your next sermon series. Always either begin a sermon series on Easter or the next week -- and make sure it's a series that meets the felt needs of an unchurched person. Yes, they need the Gospel and a relationship with Christ. You and I both know that's their foundational need, but most people will come to your church because they have a need for friendship, want a better marriage, want to be a better parent, want to feel they're living a life of significance or there may be some other need. When you do a series like that, let Easter visitors know in your letter. It'll give them a reason to come back to your church." -- Rick Warren 2014

This is an excerpt from an article Warren did to Pastors in 2014 prior to Easter about how to maximize the number of visitors returning the following week. Look at the utter disdain he shows for the gospel, waiving it away while paying lip service to it but the message cannot be clearer. The Gospel is now a problem for Rick Warren. It is an impediment to his purpose driven plans. What started thirty years ago as showing some consideration for those who do not know the Lord as metastasized into the tumor that is the purpose driven church movement. Now when advising pastors how to convince their unsaved Easter visitors to return the following week the first advice is to NOT preach the Gospel. Wow. In Revelation we see the Church at Pergamum had tolerated the error of Balaam to the point that the entire church was compromised with idolatry. In Galatia we see the church tolerated the error of the Judaizers until they had severed themselves from Christ. In Corinth we saw them tolerate one member's sexual deviancies until they were all compromised by them. Compromise, no matter how innocent it may appear, only allows further and deeper compromise.


This brings us to the final reason why we do not ascribe to Machiavellian philosophy as the church of Jesus Christ. We are supposed to be different. The Bible tells us we are a peculiar people. The world will consider us fools for Christ. We are supposed to be pilgrims and sojourners through this world. A shining city on a hill stands out from the world and does not seek to be relevant to the world by hiding its light under a basket. I used to have someone who worked for me who was always all about Jesus. She had a peer who was atheistic and tried to cause trouble for her at every turn. She filed complaints with Human Resources with false complaints about proselytizing or that her Christian music was too loud. This went on for years and not once did my friend compromise to try to find relevance with this woman. My friend knew she did not need to see and hear more of what she saw and heard every day in the world. She needed to hear the Gospel through Christian radio, worship instead of empty music, and hope instead of despair. More importantly she needed to see consistency from my friend. She needed to see the other cheek. She needed to be offered a cloak as well when she demanded her tunic. Too often today the dominionist NAR church has turned the lost into the enemy. My friend understood that her peer did not need another enemy -- she needed Jesus. After several years of this dynamic, her peer had a major life stressing event that made her want to understand who this God was that my friend served. She needed the peace my friend was able to show here. It was her enemy all these years that she turned too when she needed someone. She was led to the cross and salvation.

What does the world see when they look at the church today beloved? They see gimmicks and schemes to draw them in. They are not stupid when it comes to deception and isn't that what we really are promoting here? When we knowingly hold an Easter egg hunt for the sole purpose of "drawing" the unsaved so that they might then hear the Gospel; are we not deceiving them? Is that the Great Commission you see in the key verses today? Are we not starting our relationship with the lost with a lying scheme? The average time someone spends in a mega church is less than three years. That is all it takes for the average person to realize that for the church, it was never about them. It was always about the next scheme. The next set of unsuspecting goats. The next Easter egg hunt or Trunk and Treat. In the last two years alone we have seen mega churches sing Miley Cyrus, the Backstreet Boys and ACDC during corporate worship time. The ACDC song was "Highway to Hell" on Easter. Last year we saw mega heretic Andy Stanley preach a sermon series about how the Bible was no longer infallible and should not be used to defend our faith. His rationale? He was tired of seeing so many of his youth go off to college only to come back believing the lies of the world because all we told them was what the Bible said. The sad disconnect is that Stanley could not see that the reason his youth were falling into the world is they never left it. When you run a completely compromised and carnal church, then you do not save anyone. Only the uncompromised Gospel has the power to save anyone beloved; not marketing stunts and worldly promotions.

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Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to (more...)
 

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