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April 6, 2016
God's Not Dead 2 - The Victimization of Christianity
By Anthony Wade
It is time to stop playing the victim...
For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? -- Matthew 5: 46 (ESV)
Satan is diabolical in his schemes to warp the plans of God. Let us never lose sight of what our role is here on earth as followers of Jesus Christ. It is not to bring revival to a secular nation. It is not to fight for that which is already passing away. It is not to prepare the earth for the second coming of Christ. Our purpose is the Gospel. It is to share the truth of Jesus Christ to a dying world that desperately needs Him. They need Him as a Savior. They need Him as Lord in their lives. They need Him because He is the only way to escape the coming wrath of God. When Jesus looked out on the multitudes He had compassion for they were like sheep without a shepherd. When Christians look out on the multitudes today it is only to stretch forth an accusing finger in blame and utter contempt. I know these are subjects that are simply not preached anymore because someone using the carnal wisdom of man has decided they are not "seeker friendly." Now, many professing Christians may read this and think that it is an obvious truth but drilling down into the behavior of Christians in this country reveals the opposite is going on. There are Christian leaders today who make their livelihood on the active victimization of Christianity.
Today's exhibit is the release of the latest faux-Christian movie, God's Not Dead 2, Electric Boogaloo. It is all the rage in Christian circles. They even prepared "church kits" so lazy pastors who do not seek the Holy Spirit for their sermons, can "preach" the movie. The premise of this movie is the same as the first installment. That the big bad secular world spends its days victimizing Christians in this country. That there are good guys, who are always the Christians and bad guys who are always trying to persecute them. It creates a decidedly obvious line between us and them. That we have to constantly push back and be willing to "fight for our faith"; lest somehow we be overtaken by the godless. Not only is the premise absurd on a factual level but it is even worse biblically. There is no call from Christ to hate the very people we are supposed to bring the Gospel to. Yet that is what movies such as this and the victimization pushers that traffic in it create. Intended or not is irrelevant. It seems we have forgotten our key verse from the Sermon on the Mount. Too often we are sold on the notion that loving one another implicitly means only those in the pews with us each Sunday. Those wretched sinners in the world? They are the cause of all the problems in the world and if they would only start behaving better than America can be revived. Unfortunately that is a pile of unbiblical nonsense.
First let us deal with where this flawed theology comes from. Make no mistake beloved, it is indeed a theology. For many leaders this is their ministry. For many believers, they believe their Christian service should be not baking cakes for sinners or attending a national prayer event while holding hands with people who do not actually share their faith. There are three very clear and related false teachings that contribute to and fuel this victimization. The first is what is known as dominionism. People like Rick Warren are dominionist in their theology. They seek out ecumenical unity that is not based upon doctrine. Warren has sought unity with the papacy, despite the fact that the Pope considers himself the "Vicar of Christ" on earth. He has sought unity with Islam as well, preaching at Mosques; not the uncompromised Gospel of Jesus Christ but rather what we have in common. Dominionists are under the false belief that it is the role of the church to take dominion of the earth to facilitate the second coming of Jesus Christ. This despite the very clear biblical teaching that this earth as we know it is destined to be destroyed:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. - Revelation 21: 1 (ESV)
The second false teaching is basically a more detailed version of dominionism and that is the "seven mountains" theology. This is embraced by all of the heretics from the New Apostolic Reformation, IHOP, the Kansas City Prophets, Bill Johnson and Bethel Church, and countless others. In this theology, they actually identify seven cultural mountains that must be conquered by Christians to bring the end times about. One area is government for example and another entertainment. This is why you see so many churches backing politicians and pushing Christo-movies, such as God's Not Dead 2. It is all fool's gold however as these movies and politicians only seek to divide us further from the lost. Do not underestimate the result of movies such as these beloved. They push people further away from Christians and thus Christ. It pushes the unbelievers back because they see the way these movies portray them and how they portray Christians. They see that this does not line up with reality. It further cements their view of Christians as liars and hypocrites. It also pushes Christians away from the lost. How could it not? It teaches that those outside the church are the enemy causing persecution against them.
The third false teaching is more of the background for the first two. This is the idolization of America. While there are many who do not even realize they support such a perspective, the common pushers of this today are people like John Hagee, Franklin Graham, Anne-Graham-Lotz, Jennifer LeClaire and countless others. Let me say up front that while this country is certainly the greatest experiment in secular history it is not under covenant with God. It has never been under covenant with God. The vast majority of the founding fathers were deists, which means while they believed in "a" god, they did not believe in "the" God. Some were actually atheists. You have to understand beloved when you hear about movies like God's Not Dead 2 and national prayer marches for revival, it is all about valuing the wrong life. We are supposed to be pilgrims and sojourners through this land and this life. Instead we like living in Sodom. We like its excesses and sin. We enjoy playing church like we are heaven bound while flirting with the world and living like hell. We are supposed to be like a shining city on a hill. A peculiar people. The world is supposed to look at the church and want what we have.
Instead they look at the church and see an entity that is striving to be more like them. Sure it may have a "Jesus veneer" on but they are not stupid. When churches refuse to look like churches, act like churches, and behave like churches they know what is going on. When the first half of service is a rock concert with club lighting and smoke machines followed by a hipster relevant sermon about how great they are no wonder they are so willing to be "churched." A cafe lounge, free coffee and Wi-Fi, and they validate parking? More importantly, they validate my sinful lifestyle and rebrand it as "poor choices." Sign me up! The money they are willing to pay is more of a cover charge than an offering anyway. A fair price at their discretion for entertainment services rendered.
Oh beloved, God is not dead. He has merely been marginalized and redesigned. He has been focus group tested and rebranded. He has been remade in the rebellious image of man. Slickly packaged, expertly marketed and at some churches He comes with a money back guarantee! No kidding. Go to the website of New Spring Church and others and read about their tithing challenge where they say they will refund your money after 90 days of "tithing" if you are not satisfied with the level of blessing God has given you during that time. But the problem is the atheists? No. The problem is the church. Those that traffic in the victimization of Christianity are always trying to avoid a judgment upon this land when they cannot even see that it has already come to the church. What do you think it is when 50,000 people per week are willing to sit through Joel Osteen's sermons? When discussing with CBS this past month about why he doesn't preach the realities of hell, Osteen said:
"Well I think that most people already know what they're doing wrong. And for me to get in here and just beat them down and talk down to them, I just don't think that inspires anybody to rise higher." -- Joel Osteen
Beloved, what isn't wrong with this statement? First of all, sin is not "things we're doing wrong." It is an affront to the very God who created us. Secondly, people do not know. Not without the Holy Spirit drawing them and convicting them. Thirdly, look how pitifully Joel Osteen views the Gospel of Jesus Christ! He considers it beating people down and talking down to them! Yet 50,000 per week go to Lakewood and millions more watch him on television and read his books. Every year over 75 million dollars is brought in from donations. You think that is the blessing of God? No beloved. That is the judgment of God. And it is not just Joel Osteen beloved. It is all the prosperity pimps selling God as if He were a whore. It is the word faith heretics like Meyer and Dollar who try and say that we are gods. It is the aforementioned Bill Johnson, NAR and IHOP. Corrupting the Gospel with eastern mysticism, false signs and lying wonders and the utter carnality of this world. It is TBN, the Word channel, seven steps to a better you, destined to reign, holy laughter, glory clouds, gem stones, gold dust, angel feathers, cross-less churches, bloodless pulpits, and a gospel without the realities of Jesus Christ. Do you think any of this, while mostly successful by the world's standards, is remotely blessed by God? No. It is the judgment of God upon His faithless church and it is well underway.
I say these things while there is still time to come out from among them. There is still time to not despise the very people who need Him the most. We are carriers of the keys to the kingdom yet we shut the door in the faces of those who are trying to come in. God is not dead. He is merely portrayed that way by those who claim to love Him. How many times have you heard that "God is not allowed in our schools anymore." Do you realize the nonsense of that statement? Is God hanging out in the parking lot wishing He would be allowed in again? He is inside the schools in every single believing child and teacher. We ought to spend more time trying to live according to the Ten Commandments than protesting if they are not in the front of the courthouse. The Bible says we ought to not be ignorant of the schemes of the devil and this is a huge scheme. To take the people who are the chosen vehicle to deliver the Gospel to the lost and turn them against the very same people they are supposed to minister to. Someone is being forced to bake a cake? Oh the persecution! A county clerk is being forced to sign her name to marriage licenses as part of her job! Hurry and organize the protests! You can't tell us God is dead!
Except the world never said that. It just said if you sell cakes for a living you cannot choose who you will and will not service. It said if your job is to sign something then you ought to sign it. It is not your Christian duty or service to degrade someone in the world because of their sin. That is not preaching the Gospel. That is not showing the love of Jesus. It is arrogant and stupid. These are lessons that are not lost on those seeking. The number one reason given by people for not going to church is that Christians are hypocrites. In response, do we try and make sure we live a life of honesty as instructed to in the Bible? No. Do we try to curb our behaviors that lead people to this conclusion? No. Instead we make movies like God's Not Dead 2 which exalts Christians instead of Christ and gives the distinct impression that everyone else can go to hell.
Except they do not even get to that point in the movie. At least that would be part of the Gospel. Instead it is all about fighting for this world and this life. There is a great story in the Bible that illustrates this problem believers have with arrogance instead of mercy. Jesus sends ahead His followers but when they come to a Samaritan village, they did not receive Jesus. Just like today when we see people in the world mocking Christianity, or not accepting the Gospel. Here is the reaction from James and John:
And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, "Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?" -- Luke 9: 54 (ESV)
Past is prologue beloved. This is the same reaction we see today from Christians towards the unsaved far too often. Jesus rebuked James and John that day. Final judgment is coming soon but it is not here yet. There is still opportunity to redeem the time. I will give you a real life example. I once had a Christian working for me and she liked to wear Jesus on her sleeve. She played praise music all day. She ended all conversations with Christianese. She was always offering to pray for her co-workers. This irritated one of her peers who tried to make trouble for her. Complaints to management, gossip to co workers, and eventually an official complaint to Human Resources. All the while my friend continued to represent Christ. She gave her no backlash at all. When things fell apart in that person's life a year later guess who she turned to? She was led to Christ as well and remains true in the faith to this day, years later. It would have been all too easy for my friend to want to call down fire from heaven upon this person who was "persecuting" her. She realized however that it is God the woman was rejecting and He was still willing to extend her grace so why should she do any less?
Why should any of us do anything less? Beloved the world is not the enemy. The enemy is who tries to turn us against them. They are exactly where we once were. Lost and stumbling blindly. The things of God are utter foolishness to them. Time is running out for them. They are on the outside of salvation looking in and what do we show them? Do we show them the love of Jesus Christ? Do we show them the Gospel? The only thing that has the power of God to save them? Or do we rally around movies that try to portray us as the victims and them as the villains? Publicly calling for fire to rain down upon those who are no better than us, except for the blood of Jesus Christ? If it is judgment we wish to see, we need to turn our eyes to the state of the church for it is already here. Judgment for the world is yet to come.
God is not dead beloved. It is time we stopped acting like He was.
Reverend Anthony Wade -- April 6, 2016