A Religion of Convenience?

I am so tired of television. Except for the sports, of course. TV today has two ludicrous extremes. On the one hand, there is filth of every variety, sex unbridled, violence unchecked, veiled subjectivism, and postmodern philosophy with pride. On the other hand, there is religious broadcasting. It has become ridiculous. It’s nothing but religious fluff; its religion without substance. I am so tired of hearing Joel Osteen offer repeatedly what the Bible does not. And Benny Hinn. What kind of dangling participle is he?

The televangelists, rather than helping promote the gospel of Jesus Christ, end up giving that gospel a bad name to serious Bible students. First of all, they promise what they cannot deliver. The Prosperity Gospel annunciated with such vigor by Osteen, and others, is not to be found anywhere in Scripture. Nor is Hinn’s Health and Wealth Gospel. Both promise what God never promised. According to their affirmations, all you need do is sow the seed (that means send money, folks) and you ll receive many-fold, and packed down, and running over. It’s a ridiculous assertion to affirm that salvation can be bought!

Furthermore, the miracles of Oral Roberts group, and those promised by Hinn, Jimmy Swaggart, Kenneth Copeland, and others bear not even the slightest resemblance to those of the Bible. For one thing, you never see the end of the matter, only the miracle. People have died because some evangelist pronounced them healed, so they stopped taking their medication. And Bible healing was not partial; you didn t gradually get better. The miracles of the Bible were immediate. I heard Mattie B. Poole, a charismatic radio evangelist of the 60’s, interview a lady about her bad teeth. She had numerous cavities. She prayed with Mattie B. and the next morning they were all filled. What? No new teeth? Ridiculous!

And yet these television programs generate millions of dollars each year on the grounds that there will be some earthly gain for having sent in money. Now, there’s no doubt that God expects man to give of his means (1 Cor. 16:1-2), but there’s no guarantee attached to that. There’s no record of Barnabas having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles feet became rich for having done so. And why is it that Peter, when the lame man was healed, said, silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I to thee ? Why would such a man as Peter who said, we have left all and followed thee (Lk. 18:28) be in such dire financial circumstances as to have nothing?

It all boils down to this: people are looking for a religion of convenience. What is important to them is the here, not the hereafter. The fact is, all the money in the world won t buy you an eternal life, no matter how much you like the fellow who told you to send money and everything will be OK. A religion of convenience is nowhere promised in Scripture. It’s just not there, folks.

But there are other indications of people’s quest for a convenient religion. The so- called Christian Community of today, rather than opposing worldliness, has joined up with it. Worshipful songs have been supplanted by Christian Rock (if there ever was an oxymoron, that’s it); pulpit preaching has been replaced by light and fluffy motivational talks; rather than warnings about hell, there are warnings about not giving generously; and simply told Bible stories have been replaced by full-fledged theatrical productions or puppet shows (What do you think God thinks about such folderol?).

And don’t think for a minute that our brethren have not bought into that same philosophy. Have you ever heard of Max Lucado? He has replaced the faith, repentance, and baptism teaching of the Bible with a feel-good religion, one where faith is equal to being right with God, and baptism is merely an outward sign of that faith. He views the church of Christ as just another denomination, thereby abandoning completely the restoration motif. Further, more and more churches of Christ are buying into the religious feminist idea so common in most denominations (women are being used in the public assemblies with pride and impunity). And some churches are only opposed to instrumental music in the services on traditional grounds rather than scriptural ones. In fact, some of the choirs that are being used in churches around the country imitate instrumental music in their groups by mouthing the sounds made by bass viols, trumpets, and the like. It’s discouraging to see it all happening. And so quickly.

We need to be on guard here. We have people who participate only nominally and have the notion that all’s well with their lives. They seem to want religion only when it’s convenient. Now, I m aware that some people can’t come except on Sundays, but there are others people who need what is being taught and done here who deliberately and without reason, absent themselves from the assembly, don’t participate in gospel meetings, and otherwise show a lack of interest in the work of the church here. What’s the difference in their convenient religion and the others we have discussed?

Religion was never meant to be convenient. In fact, if you do it right and according to the Scriptures, you’re apt to be uncomfortable much of the time (Matt. 5:10-12; Lk. 6:26; 1 Pet. 4:12-19). Yes, the religion of Christ is difficult. You have to pull against the tide most of the time. There will be opposition if you take a stand. It’s just not convenient to be a Christian, people. But one thing is sure: it’s worth it.