Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Invasion Of Do-It-Yourself Spirituality

My home is being surrounded by large warehouse stores full of do-it-yourself (DIY) tools and products. Within six miles of my house are seven such stores! In fact, they all seem to be doing good business even though they are all pretty much the same. Evidence of DIY stores can be seen in every room of my house as well. There are not just television shows dedicated to the DIY revolution there are entire TV channels dedicated to it 24 hours a day. The DYI revolution is not just happening in our culture, it has even invaded our view of spirituality, but there are dire consequences of a DIY spirituality. 

The way we do ministry is plagued by human engineering. Programs are intended to make people more spiritual. We publish curriculum that are designed to make people more faithful. Models of church are intended to entice attenders. We have systems upon systems to accomplish what only God can do. In fact, most of what we call discipleship in our churches is merely an attempt to form people’s knowledge base and conform their behaviors to align with what we think is spiritual. The final product is really just theological moralists lacking true spiritual power. The results, beyond church attendance and proud pew sitters, are pitiful, to say the least.
We put faith in strategies of evangelism that are thought to be more effective than others. Pragmatism rather than the power of the gospel drives the evangelistic process in many churches. If we do the process right, we believe, we will see a higher rate of conversions per evangelistic event. One evangelistic method does not save more souls than another. In fact, an evangelistic method does not save any soul at all. Only the gospel of Jesus saves souls, not our methods. I can't save myself and I sure as heaven can't save you, no matter what method I employ. All of these types of ministry exercises reek of human engineering and quickly lose sight of the miracle of God’s promise and power. We have put more faith in our methods than in Jesus, and that is legalism. That is Galatianism.
We are so driven by pragmatism— after all, we’re really trying to do good things—that we are easily seduced toward a false-gospel spirituality. "I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all." (Gal. 1:6-7)
Really, the only thing that is sacrificed by a false gospel is the true gospel. With that sacrifice, we lose everything that is important and keep a lot of things we think are important but have no real value. We do not lose our churches, our leadership, our finances, our buildings, our branding, our statements of faith, our creeds, our organization, our numerical success; even most of our theology is kept in tact with this false-gospel spirituality. All we really lose is everything most important, namely, Jesus (Gal. 5:2–4). Authentic spiritual life is also lost (Gal. 5:6; 6:15). With that, any real impact on the world is lost and replaced with organizations doing supposedly good things. What we lose is what is most important: faith working through love.
Using legalistic methods to modify behavior is a resort to a false spirituality based on a false gospel and it does not result in true fruit. If the true gospel of grace is insufficient, then all other efforts will be meaningless in the end. All that is not done in love is meaningless (1 Cor. 13:1–13). 

We’ve become so content with a false gospel that we have no clue what the real thing is. When we become so accustomed to the type of goodness that is only possible by humans, we have no imagination for a goodness that is possible only by God. As a result, we often see those without the Spirit of God actually doing better and looking more loving than those who supposedly have the Holy Spirit. This dumbing down of love is evident in our churches to such an extent that none are attracted to us but are actually repelled by us.  

Can the gospel be enough? I am convinced it is the only thing that is enough. I will live or die on that belief. If we are not willing to bet the farm on the true gospel to change lives, and instead we hedge our bets with a little do-it-yourself spirituality mixed in for the sake of practicality, then we are selling our whole selves to a false gospel. We must choose between the whole gospel or no gospel—there is no in-between.

For my part, I do not want anything to do with a Christianity void of love. But most people in the world already know the dirty little secret: our churches are not driven by faith working itself out in love. We can say otherwise, but nobody hears us, because our lack of love shouts so loudly in our posture, priorities, and practices. In much of Christendom we have replaced an authentic spirituality with behavior conformed to a moral standard and accepted that as a Christian life. 
The worst consequence of all when we choose do-it-yourself spirituality is that we get what we wanted—a Christianity all on our own. 
Christianity without Christ is an awful thing.  
This Post is an excerpt form my book One Thing: A Revolution To Change The Word With Love


Tiffany said...

Great words. It is truly impossible to under estimate the transformative power of gospel grace. I am so thankful that God had moved me away from morals toward the gospel. It is freedom!

Tiffany said...

Great words. It is truly impossible to under estimate the transformative power of gospel grace. I am so thankful that God had moved me away from morals toward the gospel. It is freedom!

Neil Cole said...

Thanks for the kind words Tiffany. Welcome to grace.