Thursday, November 04, 2010

Is your church a cozy religious cushion?

...religious cushioning may take a number of forms. Its primary concern is to comfort suburbanites with a vision of a God who is too decent to send nice people like them to hell. In its sacerdotal form, its purpose is to tranquilize the guilt-ridden person with the religious warmth of its liturgy. Among conservatives and evangelicals, its primary mission all too often is to function as a ...station where Christians gather.. to be reassured.. about God...and to renew one’s sense of well-being without having a serious encounter with the living God. ~ Jack Miller

In his book 'Outgrowing the Ingrown Church' Miller presents a scathing indictment against the modern church's 'cozy cushioning'. He notes the identifying marks of an 'ingrown church':

1. Lack of zeal for intentional and biblical evangelism (although it may have something called 'outreach' which has little or no gospel proclamation)
2. Immobilization
3. Not turned toward the world and the lost (although it may have 'church growth strategies')
4. Lack of faith that the Lord would use them to bring a harvest of people to Him (unbelief in His empowering & equipping)
5. Appear to have become all-too-familiar and comfortable with a settled and predictable form of 'religious life' and 'church activities'

Jack Miller has a view of the church that is NOT ingrown as exhibiting:
... ongoing repentance based on the intense study of Scripture, continual personal and corporate prayer, daring gospel communication and discipling, mobilizing every member’s gifts for Christ’s mission to the world...
Miller wrote the book to identify & speak to what he calls "... the deadly peril of misdirected faith."

Has our faith become faith in 'church' or faith in 'faith' or faith in 'prayer' or any other thing instead of Christ? In light of the Lord's missional mandate have we settled for a 'cozy cushion' when Jesus has clearly provided the power of His Spirit to fulfill the Great Commission? act of faith lay at the heart of any obedience to the Great Commission. In faith we claim the presence of Christ as the power for fulfilling His missionary will. The promises are the handles that we grab in our weakness in order to secure His presence....Christ not only said, ‘Go with the gospel,’ but also, ‘I will give you the power to bring in an immeasurable harvest’
... As I meditated on... the present significance of the promise became clear. The ‘rivers of living water’ signified life-giving power provided from above to flow in and through the believer—power for holy living and daring witness. But there is a strong now-implication in Jesus’ words. The promise of verse 38 is in the Greek present, which is not quite like our English present; it is linear, ongoing, expressing habitual or continuously present activity. ~ Jack Miller
 I hope that if you have seen yourself sitting on a cozy cushion of an ingrown church that you will repent. You can be certain that Jesus will help you as you pray for the Lord to fill you with HIs power, presence and peace as you pursue a life of habitual and continuous opportunities to be a daring witness for Jesus Christ amongst those who are perishing. I pray that you will seek for ways to avoid the cozy religious cushion and that the Lord would use you to invigorate and encourage your pastor and your church in seeking and saving the lost sheep of Jehovah.

Together for Life & Eternity,
Patte Smith
Sanctuary Ministries

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