Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Word Games

I write a blog where I wax ridiculous about a variety of topics that spew forth from my twisted mind. Recently, I posted a submission that examines the strange expressions we often use in popular language. As I considered material for that blog, I thought of expressions that are more serious in nature.

I attended a funeral service for a former co-worker where in his eulogy the minister exhorted the people that, if they wanted to see_____ again, they needed to “accept Jesus as your personal Savior.” While the majority of the attendees felt this was an “awesome” message, I, the curmudgeon, squirmed in my seat.

This kind of talk reinforces the “me-centered” mania that has invaded much of popular evangelicalism. The popular appeal to become a Christian is now based on certain benefits that I may accrue from such a transaction. If I become a Christian, I can go to heaven when I die. How many people have been asked to raise their hands if they want to do this? One would have to be insane to not want to go to heaven if he believed that such a place exists. The appeal is often made to guarantee that if I become a Christian, I can see my loved ones for a grand reunion in the sky. Now, these are true statements, but why do they become the primary motivation for becoming a Christian? Notice that, in much evangelical preaching today, there is precious little talk about what Jesus did to pay the penalty for sin and to satisfy the righteous wrath of a holy God who is offended by our transgressions. We do not frequently hear that “repentance toward God and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ” is the natural response of sinful man to the gospel.

It’s true that Jesus did this for us. But he did this for us that God would be glorified in His grace and mercy, not primarily to provide us with benefits.

This leads me to my second rant. Where do we get the idea of “accepting Jesus as our personal Savior?” Our personal Savior? I see problems with this on two levels. First, is Jesus my personal Savior like a personal shopper or personal masseuse or personal butler? Am I to think that I am so important that all of this is for me alone? Second, understand that there are some things that we all accept but do not necessarily appreciate. Are we to accept Christ as we would accept a root canal – very unpleasant, but I’ll do it if it is necessary?

I realize that questioning such long held shibboleths might label me as a heretic. That’s OK. I realize that we use non-biblical words to describe Biblical truths (“trinity,” for example). However, let’s be careful and think about the words and phrases we use.


Spiceman said...

Thanks, Ron. I have been reading books by and about the reformers and puritans lately. I grew up on a diet of how I will benefit or what punishment I won't receive if I just ask Jesus into my heart. I appreciate more the biblical language of repentance, holiness, and calling on the name of the Lord. Have a great day, brother.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful Post. Full of truth that is missing from the landscape of the evangelical church today. The glorious Gospel is God's solution to our sinful condition, a condition we can do nothing about. And it is all for His honor and glory, not all about me.

Preach it man!