As mentioned yesterday Tim Farron was hounded because of his faith and given an ultimatum. Bend the knee to the thinking of this world or stand up for Christ and face the consequence. To protect his career he caved in. I wonder if a cock crew? I pray the Lord will come to him, as he did Peter, and restore his profession of faith one day.
At baptism we make a vow to fight the world, the flesh and the devil. And at some point one of these will bring the battle to us. Every Christian must ultimately choose; fidelity to Christ or the fallen thinking of this world. To Christ or to distorted pleasures of the flesh. To Christ or a path of selfishness and evil. To be Christian involves taking up the cross but when the moment comes many discover it uncomfortable and heavy to bear. So they drop it.
At this point, knowingly or not, people opt for Christianity lite. An attempt to hold onto aspects of the faith but minus the cross. Following Christ on their terms or else the world’s terms but not his. Jesus might have said X about a certain moral issue but I believe it can and will be Y!! Passionate appeals seek to justify this abandonment of key aspects of faith, often centred on false understanding of mercy, but ultimately a price must be paid. That price is supernatural grace.
Which is why Christianity lite, some call it modernism or liberalism, fails to convince. Statistics show it ever leads to collapse and haemorrhaging of followers. Those on this path become ever more worldly and the teachings of scripture ever less relevant. The institutional life remains but with crucial gifts of grace lacking. You cannot serve two masters and Jesus is no longer being served. Your conscience and beliefs unseated him from his throne of glory when they trumped his Word.
This moment of decision comes with extra force to clergy because the devil delights in their ruination. And which cleric doesn’t face huge pressure to conform to the world? Do they preach the Gospel in fulness, and risk upsetting those uncomfortable with God’s truth, or water it down and become people pleasers/ smooth politicians? Too often today the wrong decision is made and, bit by bit, clergy lose supernatural grace. They wave goodbye to zeal and passion and become administrators and community workers, counsellors and confidants but no longer true and obvious servants of Jesus Christ. The interior light is dimmed.
It doesn’t take a genius to discern that this has been a particular problem for the church in the modern age. Taking up the cross within a culture of comfort is costly. So too many Christians opt instead to live lives barely different from non-believers. Few actually witness to the divine life of faith in Christ. We have grown accustomed to a weakening of supernatural faith. To a cheapening of fidelity. All in the name of ‘modernisation’ or ‘progress’. We have sold the pass where obedience is concerned. I have been guilty of this on many occasions, opting to be too much of the world and not enough of Christ. How about you?
The lax tendency of the modern age has gifted us an Episcopacy crammed with people pleasing politicians to replace passionate men of God. How it must wound Christ when he witnesses middle managers in position of spiritual authority who endorse environmentalism and favoured political causes but remain mute on matters of faith! Because God isn’t about tea and scones and being nice. He is about truth and the salvation of souls. He yearns for our drawing close to him not to becoming ever more distant.
So beware people pleasers. They are not authentic guides of faith in Christ. Look instead to those who have been sanctified; look to the life of the Saints! To those whose witness is powerful precisely because they present the faith without compromise and yet with so much love and light and hope! They show us that true faith, though it might challenge and bring suffering short term, is not rigid or uncaring but the only path to salvation and joy. It all needs rooting in Christ. All (not just some) for Jesus! So I end with a prayer:
Lord please raise up Saints for our generation. Men and women willing to take up the cross and fight against the world, the flesh and the devil. For faith is so seriously harmed and diminished when we seek to compromise with them. Amen.