Saturday, June 30, 2012

Age appropriate Christianity (Christians and Hypocrites...)

This is the first time I thought up this label, "Age Appropriate Christianity".

In today's Christian thinking there is no such thing as age appropriate faith. I can sense quite a few taking offence already.

I have noticed one preacher who seems to understand this but say so with far more words, even books: Joseph Prince. He leads a mega church here with growing influence in America because I sometimes get my friends from there asking me about him. In fact, one just did this morning. I understand more than a few mainstream pastors are critical of his theology, but I think they are mostly people who have failed to grasp what grace truly is. Grace from the sacrifice of Christ.

I think Prince's New Creation Church is very successful in ways that are very different from City Harvest Church. Prince teaches and practices Grace as far as I can tell from watching afar. He attracts so many to his congregation because they need grace far more than laws and commandments.

Grace is what makes the commandments easy to obey. If you receive little grace, you will find it hard to obey the commandments. Prince's church like nearly every one in Singapore, and much of the rich world are full of people who have experienced little grace. If you think you have sinned little, you feel you are forgiven little and you feel you owe God a very small debt. You get on with your basically good law abiding life.

I was awestruck when I saw this movie "Amazing Grace" in 2007 at Shaw Cineplex. I am not thinking so much of William Wilberforce as John Newton (this is the guy who came up with the Amazing Grace hymn)

See the first few seconds of the trailer.

" told me that you live in the company of 20,000 ghosts..."

John Newton guilty of the deaths of so many slaves and forgiven by God. How did that change his life? Completely of course!

Pastor Prince core idea as I understand it from far (I don't go to his church) is to always press the point on grace with his listeners. Patiently let grace increase and be recognized to the point that it had for people like John Newton. This work is divine and work at the level of the individual even if it often takes a lifetime to achieve.

All hypocrites are welcome into the church. You can bear the label of Christian, be such horrid examples and stink the good name of the religion, may be even Jesus Christ but God wins by losing with patience beyond our imagination.

In the story of the Prodigal Son, the Father lost by allowing the bad son to take his share of the inheritance. Then he stood at the door of the house and wait PATIENTLY  for him to return. You know there is room to stand beside the Father and wait with him for the prodigals to come back.

Age Appropriate Christianity means a Christianity that is offered at Christ's expense, against his good name for the sake of hypocrites who have felt forgiven little, received much grace which they do not yet recognize and so love the Lord little.

If your church is age appropriate to the faith of believers in your environment, your membership will swell. As and when in God's good time and strategy of losing in order to win, as a leader of the congregation you will pick and rescue those who become overwhelmed by His grace because they now recognize how much they have been forgiven. When your love grows, the commandments are easy to obey. In fact you would obey without even knowing them. 

Grace in rich Singapore appears often in material and ego success. Meanwhile God tolerates us for as long as necessary those who has cheapen his grace for using the promise of eternal life as an insurance policy. They thought they can have their cake and eat it. Don't be foolish. Justice hasn't gone out of fashion just because Grace is freely available. This is hard to understand but true.

Finally I need to quote myself from my prior post:

Now if the map of associative links tells a God based story, good for you. If it doesn't that's hardly unusual. Welcome to the majority. No, I am not going to share what such God based stories may be. I gotta run. I  have other things to attend to and the story cannot be told quickly without missing comprehension. Who could understand when Jesus told Nicodemus, "You must be born again"

If grace is recognized and allowed to actively work through your life as had for John Newton, then "the map of associative links tells a God based story" would be how you see the world. And how might it appear? I have an example to offer but this is in the context of a third world environment. Just a picture I found on my facebook wall today.

Now what about our rich world environment? I recalled Mother Teresa had some scathing words. 

I referred to this before I wrote the above. See A few years ago, I was at Times Funan and read portions of one of Joseph Prince's earlier books, "Destined to Reign". I wasn't very comfortable but I also didn't see what was wrong. But I never stood still, and I hope I am growing in the faith.

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