STOVER: The mediocrity of modern Christianity

Published 10:29 am Saturday, January 20, 2018

By Larry P. Stover | Praise Park Ministries Church of the Nazarene

There is a scourge of mediocre Christianity overtaking America today. Many believers have been duped into believing that if they give minimal effort to their faith that they have achieved the goal of the Gospel. It’s no wonder that the Christian faith is the brunt of jokes while being considered an antiquated and outmoded form of religion that has lost its significance.

Four decades of ministry have allowed me the pleasure of observing Believers of all denominations. It is my opinion that the root of the problem lies in the fact that we have moved away from the Biblical model of salvation. It has three aspects to it: Justification, Adoption, and Regeneration. All three are intertwined and carry significant relevance.

The focus today seems to be on Justification. We Nazarene- Wesleyans sometimes believe that when we were saved and sanctified that we were justified. My Calvinist friends often point to a time in their life when they were saved and thus justified in the sight of God. I have Catholic friends who were christened as a baby and were deemed justified. There are some Charismatics who feel justified because they speak in tongues.

Others have been baptized by emersion and were told they were justified as well. My own grandmother went through a Catechism class a hundred years ago and was told that she was then justified by God. Still others join a church fulfilling the need to be justified. This list could go on.

The tragedy of this emphasis on Justification is that far too many Christians allowed this to become some kind of eternal security negating the need to grow in their faith or become the example to others that Jesus Christ called them to be. As a result, many believers in America today demonstrate little difference from their non-believing counterparts.

The often overlooked concept of Regeneration is at the heart of this spiritual mediocrity. The spiritual idea of regeneration is a renaissance and rejuvenation of an individual’s life. Second Corinthians 5:17 describes the radical transformation that accompanies God’s forgiving grace and the new life that follows ones salvation. It reads; “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation, the old ways are gone, and all things have become new!” It’s no wonder we use the phrase being “Born Again” when describing a person who has accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. The Greek word for “creation” is used to describe something that has never existed before. There is a metamorphosis in conversion that should affect us not only spiritually but in every other area of our lives as well.

A fundamental building block of Regeneration lies at the core of the Great Commandment, which reads, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, body, and strength.”

Grasping this basic concept changes everything there is about us as a believer including attitudes and actions. The Apostle Peter gave us more building blocks of the faith in the opening remarks of his second letter. “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness.” He knew that simply being Justified was only the beginning of one’s new life in Christ.

The “Fruit of the Spirit” from the pen of the Apostle Paul adds further credibility to the need to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Those crucial expressions of spirituality include, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” It cements the need for these spiritual attributes in the life of the Christian by saying, “Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

The Bible is replete with countless admonitions to grow in our faith. Simple Justification does not encompass all the requirements of what it means to be a Biblical Christian. Regeneration describes the transformation that accompanies Justification.

Adoption is the third leg of this trilogy describing entrance into the family of God. Becoming a child of God goes beyond merely accepting the precepts of the faith. In doing so we accept the responsibility of reflecting the message of Jesus Christ to everyone we meet.

When all three aspects of our salvation are actively portrayed on a daily basis, Christianity will once again be seen as the life changing religion it was intended to be. Most of all it will make our lives “Simply Beautiful.”