Some within evangelicalism are proof it is possible to attend an evangelical church and “maintain a healthy enthusiasm for Christ”. Possible, but not probable? The casualty rate is high.
It’s hard to resist the current of the majority, to stand firm while most lie prostrate before established religion, to resist the relentless pull to compromise.
Compromise. Compromise offers an immediate return but regret is just around the bend. Here-and-now rewards will be dwarfed by there-and-later loss of rewards. Compromise compromises the attachment between Vine and branch and therefore robs us of power. Less power is less answered prayers and less every good thing.
A compromiser is a 12 volt battery producing 6 volts. A compromiser runs hard but doesn’t get there. The compromiser shoots and misses. The compromiser rows with one oar. Compromising is as dumb as the guy taking a trip on a go-cart, raking leaves with a hoe, playing solitaire with missing cards, telling the boss it’s time for a deduction in pay.
Compromise assures loss at the judgment seat of Christ.
And yet it’s possible to attend an evangelical church without compromising. There can be good and gain for the one attending but not attached.
Advice: if attending, attend with caution. Listed are eleven ‘cannot-s’ for the attendee determined to steer away from debilitating compromise while attending an evangelical church….
Cannot # one: Cannot put unity above obedience.
The builders insist on unity because a united congregation is easier to inspire and direct. Being in agreement with the way it is brings the reward of inclusion, but at the cost of the lordship of your Christ. Your chief responsibility is maintaining “the unity of the Spirit”, an impossibility for the one agreeing to a manufactured unity.
You need not be in agreement with your neighbor to “love your neighbour as yourself”, to be sensitive, to be gracious. The most tyrannical religions are the most fused; agreement is not a sign of spiritual wellness.
Cannot # two: Cannot surrender the governance of the Holy Spirit.
Obeying the prompting of the Holy Spirit is actually obeying the Lord Jesus; He directs your life by way of His Spirit. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty.” You know you are free in Christ when you do not feel obligated to ask another permission.
If leadership manages to transfer your loyalty from Christ to itself, they have done you (and the people you affect) a horrible injustice. And a negative impact on you is a negative impact on His great commission.
Cannot # three: Cannot be an evangelical.
From the Lord’s perspective, you are only what He made you to be. If you consider yourself to be anything other than what the Bible declares, you have some renouncing to do. Lord Jesus has never made a man, woman, or child an evangelical.
As previously stated, it is not necessary to be an evangelical to attend an evangelical church. You are already “the light of the world”, and remaining loyal to the Bible’s perspective will also make you “the light of the” wayward church.
Cannot # four: Cannot be critical of people.
It’s tempting to be judgmental (in the sense of superiority) of those inferior in wisdom and faithfulness to Lord Jesus. But it’s simply not allowed….
Luke 6:37 (NLT): “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will come back against you.”
However, there is nothing in these words of Christ forbidding the judging and condemning of religious systems and traditions contrary to your God; Christ Himself often challenged the accepted. On the contrary, there is something wrong with the christian lacking indignation while witnessing stark injustices of the way it is.
Cannot # five: Cannot lean on the church for support.
The world leans on the world, but the church is not to lean on the church.
Christ is trustworthy, we are not. When we bunch together we become less, not more trustworthy because of our tendency to politicize and compete. However, it’s wisdom to be alert to the Holy Spirit speaking His truths and directions through church people (or whoever). A good prayer: “Lord Jesus, increase my discernment.”
The endorsement of Jesus Christ, His Father, and the Holy Spirit must be your sufficiency. Seeking outside endorsement is evidence of not abiding in the reality of God’s approval.
Cannot # six: Cannot call the pastor “Pastor”.
As surely as it is offensive to the Lord to call a man Father (“Do not call anyone on earth your Father”) or Teacher (“Do not be called teachers”), it must be equally repugnant to hear His sheep call a man Pastor. (Pastor means shepherd.) Have we forgotten, “the Lord is my shepherd”?
Of course, to be the only one not calling ‘Pastor’ Fred Pastor Fred will mark you. Your commitment to Christ may be obvious to all, but that matters little; you must bow to the accepted regardless of whether the accepted is based on the Bible. You will pay for this lack of submission to the way it is and your threat to unity.
2 Timothy 3:12: Yes, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
You should not be concerned about suffering persecution; you should be concerned about not suffering persecution.
Cannot # seven: Cannot depend on the local church for bulk of teaching.
God prefers teaching through many, not one or a few. Limiting your sources is limiting God. Limiting God is limiting your potential and accomplishments. Listen for the voice of The Teacher teaching through whoever, be they family or friends or television/internet people, or writers, or pulpit people. “Let every man be swift to hear.”
Perhaps the purest teachings will come directly from the Holy Spirit as you meditate upon the sayings of Christ at the feet of Christ.
Cannot # eight: Cannot become a church member.
Never sign a pledge or a membership card. The only thing a christian should sign is the last page of the Bible, symbolizing a determination to obey. A good litmus test when discerning the right and wrong of a matter is to try to imagine Paul or Peter or John agreeing to it (if they were here). Can you imagine these apostles becoming members of a local church?
Cannot # nine: Cannot tithe.
Why would anyone want to give ten percent of his/her income for others to invest? How can the Holy Spirit direct your life if He has no lordship over your income – which took a considerable amount of your life to earn?
More and more believers are seeing the obvious fallacy of tithing. The hardest to convince are those salaried by the tithe.
Cannot # ten: Cannot be muzzled.
While you are not there to disrupt, sometimes a conflict is unavoidable. Only compromisers can avoid every confrontation.
If a tither asks if you believe in tithing you must simply reply no (if your answer is no), and, if asked, state plainly your conviction. Should the tither suddenly stop being a tither, guess who is going to immediately notice? And guess who will be blamed?
Your presence is an endorsement of the evangelical way unless you express otherwise. Remember, you are an ambassador of Christ, not your church. May the Lord Jesus give you wisdom to know when to be discreet and when to be expressive.
Some churches will tolerate a maverick, but many will not. Again, “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.”
Cannot # eleven: Cannot forget your goal.
This is the most important cannot. Your goal, of course, is more of Christ, to know Him, to pursue Him energetically. You don’t want to ‘change the subject’ from Christ to one of many distractions.
You are privileged to be invited deeper into the person of Jesus Christ. This Great Invitation is the believer’s precious possession. As the reasonable person would never trade gold for trinkets, likewise the reasonable believer will never ignore this divine invitation while accepting an inferior invitation to band with men.