For last week’s message, Ron sider’s article The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience, here’s some excerpts … but the stats in the article is staggering! But even before we Malaysian Christians point a finger to others, may we look at ourselves honestly because very likely we are in the same boat or like one of the desert fathers or abbot told after hearing a young monk complaining about another monk – “Today he, tomorrow I.”
“… To say there is a crisis of disobedience in the evangelical world today is to dangerously understate the problem. Born-again Christians divorce at about the same rate as everyone else. Self-centered materialism is seducing evangelicals and rapidly destroying our earlier, slightly more generous giving. Only 6 percent of born-again Christians tithe. Born-again Christians justify and engage in sexual promiscuity (both premarital sex and adultery) at astonishing rates. Racism and perhaps physical abuse of wives seems to be worse in evangelical circles than elsewhere. This is scandalous behavior for people who claim to be born-again by the Holy Spirit and to enjoy the very presence of the Risen Lord in their lives.
… Weeping and repentance are the only faithful responses to the sweeping, scandalous disobedience in the evangelical world today. We have defied the Lord we claim to worship. We have disgraced his holy name by our unholy lives. Yes, we believe he is the Savior. We are Christians, not pagans. But our beliefs are not strong enough to produce righteous lifestyles. We want Jesus and mammon. Unless we repent, our Lord intends to spit us out.
Biblical repentance is more than a brief liturgical phrase or a hasty superficial tear. It is a deep, heartfelt sorrow for offending the Holy Sovereign of the universe and a strong inner resolve to embrace the conversion—the complete reversal of direction—that our forgiving Savior longs to bestow. We cannot manufacture this radical change using our own strength. But we can beg our Holy God not only to forgive but also to change us. Daily, we can pray to the Lord to transform us more and more into the very likeness of Jesus.
… Obedience means unconditional submission to Jesus as Lord as well as Savior. It means abandoning our one-sided, unbiblical conceptions of sin, the gospel, salvation, and conversion, and returning to the full-blown biblical understanding of these glorious truths. It means recovering the biblical reality of the church as community. It means living the truth that orthodoxy and orthopraxis—right theology and right behavior—are equally important.
… Things are not quite as hopeless as they first appeared. Biblical faith makes a substantial (though not enough) difference in the lives of deeply committed Christians. Most nominal Christians seem open to spiritual growth.
More importantly, the gospel is true! The carpenter from Nazareth burst from the tomb and now reigns as the Lord of the universe. His promise to transform into his very own likeness all who truly believe in him still stands. The Holy Spirit is still alive and powerful today, radically remaking broken people who unconditionally open their hearts and lives to his mighty presence.
At any time in history, no matter how bad the current mess, no matter how unfaithful the contemporary church, God stands ready to keep his promises. God is eager to do the same mighty deeds today that he has done in the past. All we must do is trust and obey.”