Recently I was at a garage sale with my children when I was impacted by a sobering and effective illustration. My two-old daughter pulled a stuffed animal out of the “10 cent pile” and was calling me with tremendous excitement. She had stumbled upon a used Tickle Me Elmo doll. Perhaps you remember the craze that surrounded this doll a few years back as parents stormed the toy stores in effort to secure the prized Christimas gift. Elmo was indeed the thing at one point. But now, where is he? He sits at the bottom of box ( a discount box no less) in a garage sale in Omaha, Nebraska.
As I walked up to the garage sale lady with my dime in hand to purchase the prized find, I was struck with the similarity between the consumer mentality of the evangelical church and that of the world. It seems as though evangelicals are just as caught up riding various waves that come along as their worldly cousins.
From The Prayer of Jabez, to The Passion of the Christ, to Promise Keepers, to promoting the Republican right, to Purpose Driven Life, and now The DaVinci Code, evangelicals seem to be painfully addicted surfing various and sundry cultural waves. Even the pop-evangelical pope Rick Warren boasts that you must be adept at “surfing spiritual waves”. But is this surfing distracting and distorting the Christian purpose and message? Or even worse, are evangelicals surfing waves that bring them further and further away from the shore of truth and more and more into the choppy waters inhabited by demonic sharks?
For the second straight year, while attending the Shepherds’ Conference at Grace Church, I was able (forced) to attend service at Warren’s Saddleback church. In listening to Warren talk I was so utterly impressed with the theological content of his message. Some say that Warren ignores theology, I say they are wrong, he does teach theology, it is just heretical! I heard Warren tell me and thousands of others that Jesus died for me to show me how good I am. I heard him tell me that it was not important how many days it took God to create the earth. I heard him tell me that I was the reason for God creating the earth. His statements were hitting me in the side of the head like bricks in light of Ephesians 1 & 2 which tell me that God does everything for his own pleasure and exaltation. And that my sin rendered me helplessly dead and unable to extricate myself from my miserable and disgraceful plight! However, when I looked around at those present, they were not cross checking his paraphrased translations with the Bible, instead they were sitting in an almost euphoric glee as Warren masterfully tickled their ears with his soft words.
Evangelicals are distracted, deceived and disinterested.
All of the “stuff” has distracted evangelicals from his job. The Satanic spam comes fast and furious and unfortunately it is working. Churchianity is distracted; wandering down paths it should not be while avoiding the path brings the good news of Christ. It would not even know the gospel to even defend it! Justification is seen as some dusty old doctrine that Calvin or somebody made up instead the truth by which the church stands or falls. And you know what? Satan loves it. It is so demonically becoming to distract, blur and otherwise deceive the professing followers of God from their mission.
Why can’t we just be content with the Bible and its shameless exaltation of the crucified messiah? Why can’t we just have our hearts stirred by the grace that brought in and through the gospel? Why can’t we just study God’s attributes and by so utterly amazed by his gracious stooping to rescue us from ourselves? Why can’t we just join the angels in their holy befuddlement in view of grace?
It is because there is a regrettable pursuit of “spiritual elmos” rather than the glory of Christ. It is more flattering to be sitting in the crowd and be told how wonderful you are by the mouth of a well respected author than it is to be told how disgustingly sinful you are via the mouth of God in the Scriptures.
It is time to shake evangelicalism and let the chaff go lest we find ourselves in a fad museum with the other spiritual Elmos. As John MacArthur once said concerning such fads, “they are lessons in obsoleteness!” May God be pleased to resuscitate evangelicalism from its stupor and use it for his glory.