by Rev. Fr. Dr. V.C. Varghese, TX
"Poverty, hardship, austerity and fasting, such are the instruments of the solitary life. It is written, 'When these three men are together, Noah, Job, and Daniel, there am I, says the Lord.' Noah represents poverty, Job suffering and Daniel discernment. So, if these three works are found in a man, the Lord dwells in him."
St. Pimen the Great.
With the explosive invasion of humanism, the Christian "Holy Trinity" become a pantheistic god. Anything and everything is applicable to the name of Jesus, the Christ. So much similarities of Krist which can be applied to Krishna and Saraswathi. The Hindu mythology may be a quarter truth or even an one-half truth. It is not absolute truth. We are all asking "What is truth?" along with Pilate. "God who at various times and in various ways .....He made the world" (Hebrews 1:1). We want to appease our other religious buddies denying Christ again and again in their festivals. We do not want to be a 'witness' (marturo/sahadho) Christ to others which would be below our social dignity. Yes, we want a Krist who can fit our own sleeves. If our Apostolic and Church Fathers were appeasing to Jews, Romans and Greeks, there would have been no Christianity today to follow.
"No one can serve two masters" (Matt. 6:24). However, Christians have spent the greater portion of the last two centuries apparently trying to prove Jesus wrong. We have told ourselves that we can indeed have both - the things of God and the things of this world, acquiring real estates, palaces, and mighty bank balances (American context). Many of us live our lives no differently than do conservative non-Christians, except for the fact that we attend church regularly each week. We watch the same entertainment. We frequently just as involved in the world's commercial and materialistic pursuits. Hierarchial mephistopheleses appeasing and competing general public for the fat pockets. Often our being "not of this world" exists in theory more than in praxis.
But the church was not originally like this. Our forefathers lived under a completely different set of principles and values than the rest of the mankind. They rejected the world's entertainments, honors, riches, self glory and great publicity. They were already citizens of another kingdom, and they listened to the voice of a different master.
Early Christianity was a revolution that swept through the ancient world like fire through dry timber. It was a countercultural movement that challenged the pivotal institutions of Hebrew, Roman and Greek societies. But the relationship of the early Christians to their culture is not simply a matter of past history. It is something that should deeply concern the church today. For most of the cultural issues facing twenty-first century Christians are the very same issues that faced the early church. However, our response to these issues has generally been quite different than theirs.
"Full gospel", today, this familiar term has come to mean "Pentecostal" or "charismatic". However, one of the problems in our churches today is that we rarely hear the full gospel preached - regardless of whether or not we are charismatic. We usually hear only the part about blessing, projects, collections, donations, etc. We rarely hear the message of suffering for Christ. We are so far removed from the message of the early church that most of us have virtually no concept of what it means to suffer for Christ. We love appeasing gospel.
When we capitulate and attempt to soften the offense of the gospel in appeasing way, they blur the lines between the gods of Hindu and Islam and the God of the Holy Bible. But now is not the time for blurring lines. Now is the time to draw lines - lines between absolute truth and error, and between the One Path to heaven and the many paths to hell.
Making comparisons of Mohammed and Krishna may not be politically correct, but it is critical if the purity of the gospel is to be protected. Put it simply, there is NO SALVATION outside of CHRIST JESUS. When this truth is compromised, the gospel is abandoned - so it is the only hope that we can offer to those who are not our enemies, but rather our mission field. Is our church a "user-friendly" church with appeasing gospel?
In summary, the church today could learn some valuable lessons from the early Christians. Three factors enabled them to live as citizens of another kingdom and as people of different culture:
(1) the supportive role of the church
(2) the message of the Cross
(3) the belief that man and God must work together for man's holiness.
Matthew 7:21-23 is the admonition of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ to appeasers.
May God bless us all.
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