Friday, November 6, 2015

A common challenge for the evangelical church

The issue with the typical evangelical church is they have the right form but are often missing substance; the right motivation. There is a lot directed toward the head (right doctrine/ information) and the will (doing the "right" thing) but not the heart.

For more discussion on the different between head and heart knowledge click here

Given our natural inclination to be our own god (the essence of the original and our present ongoing rebellion), we must be ever vigilant of our own heart. 

Because our hearts are still fallen (even as his children) we are naturally inclined to focus on form (law/commands/right behavior) and lose sight of the substance that brings about that form/fruit. This is why many efforts (churches, schools, ministries etc.) start out well but only decline and deteriorate into a shell of their original self i.e. they/we lose sight of the heart and passion that birthed and drove the action/behavior/ministry to begin with. 

This is also why unbelievers can hide in and be a part of a church and not experience saving faith. They can hide behind "right thinking" and "right doing" and never look at their own heart. They can do and say all the "right" things for the wrong reasons. They hide behind "righteous" behavior and find comfort and a false sense of security in it instead of depending on the gift of righteous God provides for us in and through Christ alone.

The prescribed thinking and behavior of a church may be perfectly spot on but our hearts are so rebellious and so inclined and committed to being our god that we can and often do use the best things (even the very commandments of God's) for the wrong reasons and miss the importance and necessity of gospel completely i.e. the grace and love of God.

Right doctrine and right behavior does not automatically indicate a right heart.

To act without total trust and dependence on the Father and passionate love for the Father can be an act merely of the will and not of the heart. Actions that only engage the will and not the heart lead to pride and arrogance, away from humility. Which results in the classic, "do as I say, not as I do" approach to others i.e. the hypocrisy that often plagues "good" evangelical churches. 

This also eventually leads to burn out and can lead to disillusionment with the church and unfortunately sometimes with God. For more discussion on this point click here

In truth we are to engage all three; the heart, the head and the will. But the last two can only be pursued correctly to the degree the heart is first engaged properly and fully.

Mat 15:8  "'This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; 

1Sam 15:22  And Samuel said, "Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. 

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Grace to you
Jim Deal