Friday, May 24, 2013

The Failure of 21rst Century Christianity

Recently I was talking with a pastor in Nairobi about the rise of Islam in Africa. I wanted to share some my thoughts with him as to why I thought the Islamic religion is spreading at such an alarming rate. And what we must do to stop it. It's not just spreading in Africa; Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. Why is that?

I believe that the main reason that Islam is growing exponentially all over the world is the sad fact of the disappearing demonstration of authentic Christianity. The words heard on Sunday are not authenticated by producing a righteous, unified corporate life in our Churches.

Much of Christianity has become largely a religion of traditions and rhetoric. Claiming to be the answer to the world’s problems, it offers little visible proof that Christ can rule the world.

Christianity is also fast becoming the most fragmented religion of all time. Why should people believe that Christ can bring the nations of the world together to live in righteousness and peace while observing the factious condition Christianity is presently in?

Statistics reveal that human failings are about the same inside Christianity as they are for those who live outside of the faith. Why is that?
I believe it’s because of their individual approach to what’s supposed to be a very corporate Life. American Christianity prohibits Christians from experiencing the fullness of Christ that can only be found in a biblically corporate experience.

And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. (Eph 1:22-23)

 Aside from that, Christians don’t get along very well even when they do manage to get together and as a result they separate when they don't agree. The weakness of their bond doesn’t hold them to God or each other. When they divide it causes the people of the world to believe that Christ can't even rule His own house... much less the world.

Where are the powerful Christian “communities called churches" of the first century that you could go and see the love and unity of Christ? Places where the lives of the people would validate what Christ taught, by allowing you to observe people living in an environment ruled by Christ. A gathered people in whom neither the threat of death or the loss of their possessions could separate them from their God or… each other.

Just the possibility of getting a new job in a different city is all it takes to separate brothers from each other in most churches today. Where is the bond that keeps us together and keeps us focused on God’s will in that area? In too many churches it simply doesn’t exist.

Instead of the church being a powerful force to change people's lives through a demonstration of Christ’s rule, it seems the "church" has become a glorified religious high school… a place of classrooms and pep rallies.

To visit most contemporary churches means entering into a class room situation; not experiencing a demonstration of the powerful (abundant) life they are supposed to be living.  

These “classrooms and pep rallies” produce people held together by knowledge and emotion, but are rarely ever able to produce a visible community of people held together by their love of God and each other. Why?

Because knowledge alone makes people arrogant and arrogant people will not stay together. Most churches today are held together by their opinions of what the scripture teaches. The problem is knowledge will not hold you together not even true scriptural knowledge.

Now concerning things offered to idols: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies. And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him.  (1Co 8:1-3)

We aren’t supposed to be perfected in knowledge during this age... we are to be built up and perfected in love. Love unites!

…from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the building itself in love. (Eph 4:16)

We should strive to obtain the purest understanding of the scriptures we can, but what should hold us together as a church is a mutual and practical love from heaven. We might not all be able to agree doctrinally.... but all can continue to love each other. If doctrine is our bond; we will divide from each other. Again… doctrine is not the perfect bond of unity… love is!
But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of  perfection.    (Col 3:14)

Love and unity make the stage in which Christ is revealed to the world. If we fail there we fail everywhere, no matter how much we learn from the bible. How do we show the world who really loves God? By quoting scriptures to them or keeping His commandments to love each other? Love for the brotherhood is the evidence that God is revealing Himself to you.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."     (John 13:34-35)

If you love Me, keep My commandments. (John 14:15)

He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him." (John 14:21)

Most churches are about people learning the bible and then going out to find more people who can learn the bible. Studying the scriptures is important but if all that studying doesn't produce a gathered people demonstrating Christ's abundant life of sacrificial love.... then the teaching is worthless.

No; it’s worse than worthless, it's deceptive; not being able to produce what it promises. Let me explain;
Christ promised us that if we received and obeyed His gospel that sin would begin to lose its grip on us. Is this really what the world finds in our Churches?

 Christ promised us that if we left everything we would in this life find 100 times what we left. Is this what the world finds in our Churches?

Christ promised us that if we loved Him we would love each other. Is this what the world sees in our churches?

If you go to most church meetings all you will be able to do is listen and take notes. If this is the only vision the world gets of God’s people it is deceptive. The picture the world gets of the "Body of Christ" in contemporary Christianity is one person with giant lips and the rest are... giant ears! This is not the Body of Christ!!

When we ask people to "come to church" we are really asking them to come in a room and listen. Not to come and experience a people practically living out a unified life of Christ love day after day.

They must see something more than meetings. They must see a life together lived with love toward each other. Meetings must not remain the only visible way the world sees us as being together. More importantly, meetings must cease being the only way we are together.
Teaching and preaching are important, but they are a means to an end.... not the end in itself!
The goal of preaching and teaching is to produce a revelation of Christ in His gathered people. A people who love each other, keep a good conscience and don’t act like hypocrites through the week.

Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith         (1Timothy 1:5)

Our teaching is supposed to cause people to do what Christ did; not just hear about what He did. The world doesn’t only need to just hear about Christ anymore...they need to see Him! That is best accomplished in a gathered, living, breathing group of disciples who are daily obeying Him and are living together in the blessings of unity.

A Song of Ascents of David. Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down on the beard, the beard of Aaron, Running down on the edge of his garments. It is like the dew of Hermon, Descending upon the mountains of Zion; for there the LORD commanded the blessing— Life forevermore.                         (Psalm 133:1-3)

A life of brothers and sisters living together in the unity of Christ love is both good and pleasant (or at least it should be). Where that is happening you will find Him making visible His Eternal Life for the entire world to see.

If we don't produce a demonstration of what we are teaching in a group of people ...the world is not going to listen or believe our claim that Jesus is from God. They are tired of listening to our grand theories. They must see our love and unity in a common life with God and …. each other!

I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.  (John 17:20-23)

In other words; more preaching and teaching are not enough.  The church is supposed to be the pillar and support of the words Christ spoke! It should "demonstrate" the reality of what He taught. They and not the bible are supposed to be the proof of His doctrine.

...but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.  (1Ti 3:15)

As preachers of the gospel we need to present to the world a group of people that demonstrate what the world might look like if Christ was ruling it, and not just promote a scriptural theory. The world needs to see a living preview of the next age. That is exactly what the church began to do (See Acts 2:44-47; 4:32-35)
... and it is exactly what it was created to do... even today. 

You will not find the radical "Corporate Life" experienced in the first century present in most contemporary churches. You might "hear" lots of people talking or even teaching about it...but rarely will you ever see it.

Yet, it is not in the hearing one is justified... it is in the doing. That is true for a religion just as much as it is for an individual.

 Again... if our teaching and preaching the gospel doesn't  produce the same expression of Life it did when the first apostles preached it ...we need to wonder if what is being preached is authentic. If it is not the authentic gospel it will not produce an authentic representation of Christ.  More than ever before people today desperately need to see an authentic Christ, for many false images of “christs” have arisen.

First century gospel preaching produced a people who lived like the Father and His Christ lived in all eternity... one heart, one mind, intent on one thing. Loving each other, sharing everything and living like a real family, not a fake, part time family.

Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. (Act 2:44-45)

Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.    (Act 4:32-33)

This is why the Apostles spoke with great power and the church had great grace. The "Church" was supporting what Christ taught by demonstrating it with their everyday lives.

Christ's gospel wasn't primarily to give us "hell fire insurance"; it was to produce a people that were zealous for good deeds and to glorify Christ by those good deeds.
It was meant to produce a race of people that experienced the everyday blessing of God because He now lived with them. It was to produce a brand new kind of people, a brand new nation... a nation of priests.

Christ longs to bring this message to Kenya but He cannot do it without you. We believe that Kenya could become a trumpet to awaken the entire world.

This is what we are praying for in the city of Nakuru. What's happening with us may look small and seem like nothing now, but the first century gospel has never been preached anywhere in the world without producing a spiritual revolution.
We think the time for revivals has past… now it’s time for real, authentic, spiritual revolution right here in Kenya!   


  1. This was awesome! What a great reminder for us who have already heard you so many times on this subject, and what a great message for those that have never heard it. We are the demonstration of the Gospel, by our lives, not by our knowledge.

    Or not.

    1. You are so encouraging thank you my forever friend .... abba

  2. Amen and amen to that. An awesome word to the church and the world. I was was just trying to express that very same word to a brother intent on dividing from others over doctrinal issues.
    We are the only "word of God" the world will ever read. May God have mercy on us and them!!
    Love you brother.

  3. Thank you my dear brother. May God give us grace to reveal what is true! Much love Dave

  4. Dear Noah
    Thank you for the post.
    Wow, such an insight of truth. May God give you the Grace, strength and power from on High. Bless you.

  5. Kenya needs to hear this message. 'Christianity' the Kenyan version on the most part has nothing to do with Jesus Christ of Nazareth and the liberating message of love that He came down with. It is something totally different. No wonder it is not uncommon for a Kenyan 'bishop' can get into politics and it will be normal for them to do everything politicians do and even more, and still stand on the pulpit every Sunday morning to preach to screaming crowds... it all all pathetic.

  6. David ~~ After so many years of lost-connection w/you, my dear brother, how good of your brother Chuck to send me your writing above. I cannot tell you how my heart rejoiced w/in me to read your words and take on the current conditions of the Church, and why we are failing to impact the world as our Lord Jesus intended. I wholeheartedly concur with both. If we are not reduced to Agape-Love as the highest priority in His Kingdom, and if that is not both the genesis and termination of all our work among His people and the world, then we have completely failed Him. I once had a dream of this coming Kingdom of which you speak. At the end of the dream I saw these 5 things written in front of me: "One King; One Kingdom; One People; One Law; One Love!" And then the Lord said to me, "And it is supposed to be this way right now among My people!" May it be so, and may the Father continue to bless the works of your hands.

    Christopher P. Johnson