Cause and Effect

I have really been delinquent with writing thoughts down lately. To be honest I’ve had to many thoughts, but very few good ones, or clear ones. I suspect today’s might be no different, though due to a job assignment for church I need to write something for my churches bulletin. So I will copy and paste some of this blog and send it to our team to place into the bulletin for this upcoming weekends service.  Hopefully it’s worth the read. To be honest I’ve been thinking about the idea of Causality (Cause and Effect) for months. It came hand in hand with the idea that we need to have the Holy Spirit more in our churches and lives. Even after I shared this for months at our church, only a few people got it. To say the least it has been both frustrating and demotivating. Then again leadership I suspect is always like this.

We are often inspired by amazing success stories, were a man or women leads people to amazing results and change. One most recently that inspired me for the second time (as I’ve known of the story but to see the movie refreshed the inspiration) was the movie Invictus. The story shows Nelson Mandela lead South Africa through the Apartheid. It was a huge paradigm shift for the country and one I am sure was not very easy. I wonder what kept him going? I feel like giving up myself and I’m not trying to end racism weaved into the fabric of my countries business and political cloth. I’m simply trying to lead Christians, my church into a full relationship, sometimes a real relationship with their saviour. One that will help them live fully. Sounds like it should be a no brainer.

So I’m frustrated. I’m tired, and I feel like I’m trying to make a horse drink water.

The reason for this frustration is not the effect of my leadership efforts, but the reason. Our church (the worldwide church) has been brain washed into serving Moralism instead of Christ. Instead of seeking the Holy Spirit to change us, lead us and give us His fruits we settle for acting morally. The ironic part is this came out of a move of the Holy Spirit. In the early 1900’s there was a great move of the Spirit. It inevitably changed the world, and started some of the main Protestant branches we find ourselves attending today. I am (almost) ordained by one of these movements, the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada.

I don’t think it’s hard to picture but imagine this. The Holy Spirit is moving, changing people’s lives. The Spirit is convicting, giving passion and control to the followers of Christ. The Gifts and Fruits of the Spirit are running rampant throughout the Azusa Street revival, which then flowed out to the rest of the world. Needless to say the Christians of this time were changed for the better. The effect of this movement was biblical change. It was a desire to be Holy and focused on the things of God. The effect was Holiness, the cause was the Holy Spirit.

Years later we see, by looking back something I’ve seen our churches do even today. We focused on the effect, instead of focusing on the cause. We slowly placed the effect as the important piece of our spiritual life’s puzzle. With our focus skewed, we quickly developed processes and rules to maintain the effects. Since the Holy Spirit took away our fleshly desires, it seemed natural then to make rules against any fleshly desire. Are you with me? The Holy movement began. We decided we needed to act differently than the world. “Act” being the key. Instead of focusing on the Cause, we focused on the effects, believing that the effects cause the cause.

Here’s an example. I was working on my deck this weekend and got sunburnt. The cause was the sun, the effect was a burn. Now I could equate that being burnt means I was in the sun.  So,  my goal now is to be burnt, or look like I’m burnt. So I paint my skin red, or go to tanning booths to get burnt. With this I achieve the appearance of being in the sun, but I have not actually been in the sun. We can get burnt many different ways, but they don’t all mean we were in the sun. The same goes, I believe with the concept of Morality. We can act morally without God. Sure God causes morality, but morality is its own venture.

So many people I know, in our church and outside our church are Moral believers. Notice I didn’t say Christians. I am really fearful for some of them. So content in their walk, believing they are Christians but really have no relationship with the Cause, God. They’ve only been infatuated with the effects, faithful even to them.  Matt. 7:22-23.

I was saying to a good friend of mine yesterday whom happens to be on staff with me at the church. My struggle is obvious. It’s a physical, and socially obvious sin, usually. So for me it’s easy, people can tell and judge my sin, and I know that I’m sinning. It’s a 10 commandment type of sin. Someone murders, well that’s easy to see, so we judge it and tell them to repent. Morality is like a sleeping giant. It’s a sin that is keeping you from God (Matt. 7:22-23) because you’re acting like you are a Christian, but aren’t one necessarily. So because you are acting Holy, you assume you are. It’s assuming the effect of being burnt means you’ve been in the sun.

This is rampant in our culture, and is destroying our churhes potential. We ignore the Spirit because we think as long as we act right, the Spirit is with us. I was told a story this weekend about someone not liking that Christians have dances at their weddings. The person said, “How can people tell that we are Christian’s if we are dancing like the world does”. I said, so if no one is dancing how can we tell who’s Christian and who’s not. What distinguishes them at work if there is no dancing allowed? The truth is simple but hard, the Holy Spirit is what distinguishes us because it gives us the fruits and gifts that people without it don’t have.  It gives us the real sunburn, not a fabricated one. That is what we are missing, the effects from the right cause. Not a perception of the effects.

So how can you tell if you are a moral believer? Or even more so, how can you tell what state your relationship is with Jesus? How often do you pray? When was the last time you were convicted? Are you keeping rules, and lists of things you are allowed to do and not do, or are you allowing the Holy Spirit to lead you and take away your selfish desires? When was the last time you asked the Holy Spirit to change you? When was the last time you allowed the Holy Spirit to press the reset button?

Moral Believers are everywhere. It’s the classic, great sermon Pastor, but not actually doing anything about it. The process is their faith. It’s a heritage often passed down from their parents. Act right, that’s what a Christian does. NO NO NO!! We don’t act right, we live right!! A huge difference.

Anyway, let’s focus on the cause. God help us to be better at not turning our journey into our rules, but help us to remember the cause, You, and help us to follow hard after You every day!!!

 

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9 thoughts on “Cause and Effect

  1. Blessings on your journey, Evan. It is a pleasure to read how God is revealing Himself to you. My spirit is encouraged as I see God break through all the rules that we were taught (yep, the same, your dad was my pastor for years) and change another, bringing them into a better understanding of what it is to really walk with Christ.

  2. Ev…good work, and work it is trying to put these things into words. Continue to work out your faith my friend. Philippians 2:12-18, with attention to vs.13–through grace God frees your will to do His. Keep working at “hold[ing] out the word of life.”

  3. You’re so right on with this Evan!!! I was thinking about this tonight at work that the most frightening verse in all the New Testiment is Matt. 21:31,32. The idea that sex-trade workers and thieves understand and enter Jesus’ kingdom ahead of the bible teachers freaks me out. We so badly want to mold our outward behavior as though this is what God primarily desires when in fact God is truely interested in the inward disposition of the heart first.

  4. Very good Evan, God is obviously speaking to you and you are listening. For the past 2 months I have been spending every morning alone with God and I am amazed at what He is showing me through His Word, the Truth. I really believe that “Christians” have to smarten up and start trusting in God and not in themselves, give God the glory that is due Him and learn to be good stewards of what He has given us. I have often wondered why I have never had a lot of good friends in any church that we have attended, I guess it is because I am an open book, there is no facade, what you see is what you get, alot of people don`t like that. You are right, they are being moral and because of that they are unable to be a witness at work or play.

  5. I agree with what I think you are saying in principle “that we need to draw close to God and not just follow a set of superficial rules apart from a living relationship with God”. I disagree that many or most Christians are only following the rules without a relationship with God. I also strongly disagree that we don’t need rules. I think it is humanistic and anti-scriptural to think we even know what love is apart from God’s law. “The heart is desperately wicked, who can know it?” (Jeremiah) I also believe that the move towards judging our fathers and grandfathers etc. is misinformed, unscriptural and our culture directing what we think rather than scripture. Our parents and grandparents generation was probably the most socially conscious, giving generation that ever lived. Their zealousness for God lead them to overstep God’s law and try and make some things moral absolutes that should not have been. Post moderns have sat back and criticized them, accusing them of not caring enough about social justice. This is a little rich coming from the most wealthy, selfish generation to ever walk the earth. All economic indicators show them as having the lowest charitable giving, while their spending on high tech luxury items such as x-boxes and I-pods is off the charts. It brings new meaning to the word hypocrisy.

    In scripture, the rules and love are intertwined. We are over and over again exhorted to live holy lives, pleasing to God, full of love, while always humbly clinging to God. As far as cause and effect go, God chose to reveal his law first to us and progressively the fullness of this was revealed in Christ. I am not so much reacting to your piece as to some of the comments to your piece. Sin is a tricky thing. By the harsh focus on the ones who went before us, it blinds us to our own sin. I think you as well, need to acknowledge that you are judging. I am fine with judging :). But scripturally one needs to check their heart at the door before they can remove the speck from others. You also need to be aware that you are judging. You said about some of your acquaintances/friends that they aren’t even Christian. Then you say you are not judging them. What? I am curious why you think they aren’t Christians? No love? Too moral? Too many laws? Wrong motives? Outwards signs? Please do explain.

    I was recently reading a book by Donald Miller called “Blue Like Jazz”. I think one section in his book on confession is a great example of self righteous blindness. In this piece, he opens a confessional booth with a twist. Christians confess to unbelievers over everything that Christians have done wrong over the last 1000 years. I.e. Crusades. It is fairly clear that he is not a student of the events that he apologizes for. When one looks back to an illiterate peasant 800 years ago and apologizes for the terrible actions, with no historical understanding, it is rightly laughable to non-Christians. Hopefully as well as to Christians. What he is really doing is proclaiming his own self-righteous enlightenment – saying, “Look at me, I’m enlightened, not like those other Christians.” It is shocking in the book that he actually seems to think that he is humbling himself.

    God’s absolute law, his unconditional love, his convicting spirit will constantly conform us to the likeness of his Son, as we draw close to him in relationship.

    I love the psalms of David and how he constantly sings of his love for God’s absolute and perfect law. Help us to love it as well.

    • The main point is this. We have structured our Relegion so much that we are missing the relational aspect of it. Sometimes we even cover it so well that it appears that we are in relationship but we are really just doing what we’ve always done. When was the last time you saw a move of God in your church so powerful that everyone was changed, convicted and freed?

      I also read Blue Like Jazz. I loved it. I didn’t get that feeling from him. I thought he was saying, to a crowd that would have viewed these as negatives (and I’m not sure you can defend the negatives of the Crusades, or at least realize a lot of people view it as seemingly opposite to what we preach at least) and was reaching out saying sorry for the things that have been done in Christ’s name that weren’t at all what Christ would do.. Not what I would do. The point really I thought was not a focus on him, but on the actual heart of Christ and not what some of these horrific historical movements did in his name.

      But hey, that’s the beauty of family. I can be related to a fundamentalist and still enjoy his company. 🙂

      • We need to quit worrying so much about the crusades, the church, making christianity cool and judging our fellow christians motives. All we are called to do is love God our neighbor and to be faithful to Gods word. We have enough sin in our own hearts to worry about. I dont think we are advocated in scripture anywhere to build a utopian society, in fact it makes it clear this will not happen. Having said this neither should we use this as a cop out not to reach out with the help of the holy spirit, in love, to lost sinners and change their eternal destiny.
        PS I’m not a fundamentalist

        Blessings, Terry

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