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Chapter 28 - Barriers to Relational Christianity
For the Christian unsatisfied to live within the strictures that organizational Christianity imposes, he will have to understand the effects of the damage Satan has inflicted on both Christianity and the world in general. Like the combat medic seeking the wounded on the battlefield that can be helped, the mature Christian will have to negotiate around this wreckage to identify those who may be assisted. Most of those injured by Satan would argue strongly that their is any deficiency much less injury. As a result, ministry can only be offered to a few. It is a testimony to the skill of Satan that he so often is able to get his victims to remain victimized and often even insist on greater victimization.
1. The organizational church. Most of the Christians found in this circumstance are satisfied that there is no deficiency in their walk with the Lord. There might be some among the odd, fringe, or elderly to whom relationship could be extended.
Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. - 2 Timothy 3:5
2. The decimated family. The mobility and prosperity of modern life has diminished our need of each other to such an extent that it is often difficult to find closeness with another even within our own family. Having been reduced to superficial familial relationships, it is often impossible to consider our relationship with other Christians in deeper terms. Husbands and fathers should consider that 'provision' for the family also includes helping them recognize, cultivate and grow in Christian relationships. Spiritual starvation can be as hazardous to eternal life and physical starvation is to physical life.
But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. - 1 Timothy 5:8
3. The profession of religion. Often a discussion about Christianity, the bible, or Jesus ends when a person declares his denominational affiliation. It is as if the person declares the subject has been addressed and is no longer of any interest to him.
Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth. - John 9:41
4. The scarcity of time. Eight hours of work (nine with lunch), a commute of up to two hours, eight house of sleep, and household chores leave little time for anything else, much less people and relationships.
Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. _ Ephesians 5:14-16
5. The Potemkin mask. It is told that Grigory Potemkin had phony villages placed along the route that Empress Catherine II of Russia took on a trip to the Crimea to deceive her into thinking that the peasants were more prosperous than was the case. Ever since the term 'Potemkin' has been used to describe a 'false front'.
In modern society we can come to have a component of artifical presentation that we rely on to gain social acceptance. By this one act, we can come to resist relational closeness as it might revel that which we believe should remain hidden. Seeing ourselves in truth helps us be humble and protects us from crippling fear and the self-deception of pride.
For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. - James 1:23-24
6. The soft life. One measure of our prosperity is the degree to which we are able to provide ourselves comforts. If one considers that most kings in history did not have indoor plumbing, hot water, year round availability of seasonal food, 24 hour entertainment, or air conditioning and central heating, one begins to see in modern life the indulgence of comfort unprecedented by even the most rich and powerful in history. This elevation of personal comfort is not compatible with the discomfort of getting to know other people.
But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings' houses. - Matthew 11:8
Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: - Revelation 3:17
7. The herd mentality. Public education accomplishes many things for Satan. However, one that may not be fully appreciated is the social dependency that inhibits independent thought and action. Comfort is found in social acceptance and conformity.
They are like unto children sitting in the marketplace, and calling one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept. - Luke 7:32
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