Saturday, May 23, 2015

Suicide By Ambiguity

"But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy." - 1 Peter 2:9-10

Ambiguity is defined as, "doubtfulness or uncertainty of meaning or intention: an unclear, indefinite, or equivocal word, expression, meaning, etc."  Quite unfortunately, the present generation could be easily defined in the same manner.  In most issues of morality the fashionable trend is to be as neutral as possible.  Political correctness is the rule of order.  Offending a particular person or group is a capital offence punishable by a life sentence of social solitude.  "Who am I to judge?" That is the mantra of our day.  

In a post-9/11 world, the media has enjoyed the use of such terms as "radical" and "extremist" with great liberality.  An individual who speaks up for and defends his most basic Constitutional rights is labeled a "Radical, Right-Wing, Fundamentalist, Christian Extremist."  Being neutral or passive on issues of morality is heralded as virtuous and mislabeled as "compassionate" and even "righteous."  The civil religion of our modern society lists among its Mortal Sins most any action which would draw a line or set a definitive boundary.  Insisting that some things are inherently right or wrong is branded as intolerance, hatred, narrow-mindedness and bigotry.  

Feminism gave birth to ambiguity in the roles of men and women while the sexual revolution engendered ambiguity in the structure of relationships and families.   Popular culture has demanded ambiguity in dress to keep from being out of fashion.  The movement for gender neutrality has even lobbied successfully for ambiguity in public restrooms!  When Progressives became the new Liberals and Liberals became the new Moderates, ambiguity became preferable over "antiquated" traditional social values.  In "The Great Melting-Pot" known as the United States, Americans are encouraged to be ambiguous about their patriotism.  Heaven forbid anyone should actually melt in the "melting-pot!" An American flag flying in America is to be exchanged for an ambiguous, multicultural tableau unless, of course, you enjoy having your public establishment or private institution dragged through the mire, picketed, boycotted and tried in the court of "media morality."  How much more ambiguity could we have?

But wait...there's more.  

Ambiguity has found a home in the single greatest counter-cultural institution ever established in human history:  THE CHURCH.  It began with words like "relevant," "seeker-friendly" and "contemporary."  Ambiguity in priorities: church services and their duration are secondary to individual schedules.  Ambiguity in form: worship services should exclusively reflect the rhythm and sound of popular music.  Ambiguity in doctrine: sermons should be delivered in non-confrontational tones with an inclusive undercurrent.    Now, before you kill the messenger, hear the rest of the story.  

Convenient services are not wrong in-and-of themselves.  Certainly we want everyone possible to be able to join us in times of corporate worship.  BUT, all too often our services are dictated and driven by the personal schedules of both saints and ministry.  God must move within so many minutes or we simply stand up, give up, pack up and go home.  Tarrying in prayer and supplication for a Pentecostal outpouring is no longer fashionable because of the inconvenience of such an investment of time.  Instead, we should convert to a system which caters to our selfishness rather than one in which there is not a greater priority in corporate worship than having a real encounter with the Spirit of God.  Is it any wonder so many people sit on our pews without ever receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit?  Convenience has replaced conviction and birthed ambiguity to the point that an increasing number of Pentecostal Churches are practically indistinguishable in their spirituality from non-Pentecostal denominational Christianity.  We are committing suicide by our ambiguity in priorities.  

Contemporary worship music is not wrong in-and-of itself.  Certainly we realize that the songs in the old brown-backed hymnal were once "new songs."  BUT, all too often our worship services are only hyper-emotional performances where the worship team sings and the congregation acts as spectator.  Professionalism is too often preferred over sincerity.  Talent is too often preferred over sensitivity.  The quest for the best sound results in hours of practice instead of the quest for anointing resulting in hours of prayer.  For this trade we are given great quality music which touches the carnal nature of the listener who, because of their weakened spiritual condition due to prayerlessness birthed from their ambiguity in priorities, cannot discern the difference between a move of God and a move of the emotions.  As a result, an increasing number of Pentecostal Churches are driven by worship services where people move physically but are not spiritually moved toward Christ, His Kingdom and His righteousness.  We are committing suicide by our ambiguity in form.  

Sermons delivered with mercy, compassion, love and sympathy toward the plight of sinners are not wrong in-and-of themselves.  BUT, all too often our sermons are of a nature which possess neither the power to convict sinners of their sins nor Christians of their apathy.  Often they are lacking a clear indicator that the Minister is convinced of the reality of the doctrines in the Book from which he takes his text.  Professional clergy and inherited ministries all too often are replacing men who have been called of God in a real and clear manner through prayer, fasting and a supernatural encounter with the Author of Holy Scripture.  How can it be that people sit on the pew of a Pentecostal Church for years without really knowing some very basic and essential Biblical doctrines?  Don't be offensive.  Don't be confrontational.  Don't be controversial.  And, if it should happen that you touch on a controversial subject, you must make sure to include disclaimers that will be sure to calm anyone who might be otherwise unsettled.  As a result, an increasing number of Pentecostal Churches are fed a steady diet of preaching which does more to validate a lifestyle of unrighteousness than to challenge it.  We are committing suicide by our ambiguity in doctrine.  

Suicide.  What better description of the process by which a movement, once characterized by genuine spiritual power and the very real presence of God in its midst, systematically drains itself of life as a result of its own actions?  Ambiguity is the razor blade at our wrist, the poison in our drink and the bullet in the chamber of the gun pressed against our head.  Spiritual lethargy.  Lack of zeal.  Absence of real power.  Empty prayer rooms.  Disregard for the pursuit of righteousness.  Sinners walking out of our sanctuaries without feeling conviction.  Christians whose lives are never changed even after years of church attendance.  Where is it?  Where did it all go?  How is the Pentecostal Church of tomorrow going to be distinguishable from other run-of-the-mill religious institutions?  

Our identity is being forfeited.  Chosen generation?  Royal priesthood?  Holy nation?  Peculiar people?  We used to be known as the Church people ran to when they wanted their lives changed.  When people needed healing, they ran to the Pentecostals.  When they needed deliverance from addictions and demonic oppression, they sought out the Pentecostals.  They knew there was a Pentecostal Church in the neighborhood, not by the volume of their music, but by the intensity and persistence of their prayer meetings.  What happened?  Did we become ashamed to be Pentecostal?  Did we lose our hunger and thirst for righteousness?  Did we grow weary of the real presence of God?  Was the undeniable witness of the Holy Spirit in our services not enough reward for the sacrifice of our precious time?  More importantly, have we finally reached the bottom or is there still a depth of spiritual depravity yet to be reached where the Church of Jesus Christ is actually content with the new moniker: ASSEMBLY OF AMBIGUITY?    

Jesus Christ was absolutely NOT ambiguous.  He was and remains the most confrontational and controversial figure in human history.  In fact, He rebuffs notions of neutrality and half-hearted devotion and demands all mankind, each and every one as individuals, to make a decision about who He is and to either embrace Him and His Way entirely or not a all.  Christendom has caved on many levels and made Jesus Christ into a shallow, weak and pseudo-hermaphroditic character having neither the firmness of a man nor the authority of a god.  The Christ and the Church presented to the world is too often unrecognizable in form compared to that of the First Century.  Can we continue to sleepwalk hand in hand with our own destruction on the broad path to hell?

Thank God that many are waking up to this reality and are actively combating it.  Oh to God that it would be the majority instead of the minority!  Lord Jesus, please help us to stand firmly, boldly and confidently on Your Word and our very definite identity as Christians!  

By: James Rowe and J.M. Hensen
1. There are souls in sin which we cannot win,
All because we lack desire;
And the thing we need--sorely need indeed--
Is the Pentecostal fire.

That's the thing (that's the thing)
the very thing (the very thing),
That is what we must acquire;
Let us pray once more as they prayed of yore
For the Pentecostal fire. 

2. He will send it down and our lives will crown;
With the blessing day by day;
If we truly plead for the thing we need
In the earnest old-time way.

3. Let us seek the face of the King of grace, 
Let us do His holy will;
Then the fire will come on each heart and home, 
For He loves the faithful still.