Roman Emperor, military leader, satirist and philosopher Julianus Flavius Claudius, also better known as Emperor Julian, made every effort to restore the pagan world that Jesus Christ had overturned with his teaching. And as Julianus died in the battle field from a fatal wound, he filled his hand with blood, flung it in the air and declared, “Thou hast conquered O Galilean.” And indeed Christ the prophet from Galilee shall conquer each man, for it is declared that every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord. Jesus’ words in the Bible are either true of false. There is no middle ground. He either was the Son of God or he was a mad man.
To really look at Jesus’ words intently would elicit either of these reactions: ignore him as a lunatic, vehemently reject him for his intolerant worldview or make you fall at his feet and declare him to be Lord. But to see him as another nice guy is too impossible even for the simplest mind. I would have to conclude that you haven’t really read the Bible. His words are so cutting yet so soothing, so protruding yet so healing, so offensive yet so refreshing. He divides the world into two categories: those who follow him and OBEY him and those who don’t. I emphasize obey because Jesus Christ today has many fans who love his quotes, love his stories but do not obey his teaching. Jesus would be the pariah of our modern culture in the 21st century. He would talk about hypocrisy as he did to the Pharisees. He would talk about demons as he did to his disciples. He would talk about the gluttony of the rich. He would talk about people going to heaven and hell as he did to the people of Israel. He would speak that which men and women today do not want to hear. And beloved, he would offend many. He would not talk about these things as opinion but as truth and fact. He would be called xenophobic. He would be called narcissistic. He would be called narrow-minded and intolerant of people’s views. He would shame pastors. He would anger politically-correct leaders. He would irritate religion. He would give the 21st century enough reason to crucify him again.
But you see, Jesus did not apologise for his truth claims that sounded improbable, neither is he doing so today. In all the offences, the Son of Man often fought falsehood and deception. Our generation is not free of falsehood and deception. Fyodor Dostoevsky, a Russian novelist once said, “My dear, the real truth is always improbable, do you know that? To make truth sound probable you must always mix in some falsehood with it. Men have always done so.” Below are top 3 mantras of pop culture that Jesus Christ would renounce as utter deception because of the mix of falsehood in them. These three deceptions that are seeping into the church today are:
- The purpose of life is to be happy
- If you love me you have to agree with me
- God wants me to be rich
- The purpose of life is to be happy
This is the doctrine that is largely replacing the gospel in our culture. They come in neatly packed 10-point messages that prefer quoting American presidents to quoting the scriptures. Why? Because the scriptures will offend the people. Because it will not be politically correct. Pop culture is saying that you can do anything you want as long as it makes you happy. If it makes you feel good and makes you happy then it must be godly. Pop culture goes on to say that you can call yourself a Christian but live in worldliness as long as you are happy. Sure, you and your boyfriend are sleeping together, but all that offering you give on Sunday and you being a good person makes up for your goodness and for this small thing. And isn’t the most important thing in a Christian’s life to be happy? I mean, Oprah believes it so it must be true, right? Besides, it’s not like you killed somebody! Pop culture says there is no absolute truth, only different truths, everyone with their own truth and all truths are true as long as you are happy. We know too well that Jesus’ claim rejects that kind of doctrine. We know that to be a true follower of Jesus makes you unpopular in this politically-correct world of ours. Jesus says in John 14:6 that “I am the way, the truth and the life; no-one can come to the father except through me.” Not few, not some, not many but NOONE! Jesus is making a very blunt statement that will offend the politically correct- the ones who would call him intolerant. But do you realize that it doesn’t make sense if I change the truth to please you and then it hurts you later? The major concern isn’t that the world operates like this (for they cannot help it) but that churches and fellowships are promoting this. How can you tell when this worldliness is creeping into your church and fellowships? You can tell if:
- Biblical teachings are substituted with entertainment.
- The Gospel of Salvation and repentance is substituted with self-improvement sermons such as “7-steps to get your happiness back.”
- Discipleship and spiritual disciplines such as prayer, fasting, and memorizing scripture are seen as something that pastors do and not necessary for the rest of the church.
- Biblical messages are substituted with lifestyle enhancement messages.
- Promoting holiness, purity and obedience to the scriptures is termed as being legalistic.
- Concern for the physical body outweighs concern for the soul
God’s purpose for the life of a believer if to make them holy not happy. Happiness is a by-product of holiness, not a main pursuit. The pursuit of happiness is like being concerned about the wrapping paper in an expensive gift and abandoning the costly merchandise. Yet that is what we sign up for when we say that the purpose of life is to be happy. The expensive and costly gift of salvation is thrown to the bin and we get giddy with the wrapping paper. And if you are not careful, Beloved you could make the cut for the end-times list in 2nd Timothy 3:1-5 “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God– having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.”
- If you love me you have to agree with me
Pop culture has made people believe the following lie: If you love me you will agree with me. Jesus Christ says the most shocking things in John 8 and offends many Jews. He offends them because he loves them! He wants them out of the clutches of sin. He says in the same John 8 in verse 34 “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” Jesus sees slaves of sin that need deliverance, but the prisoners of sin love their chains and prison cells. We are like those Jews in John 8. We love darkness and because the truth is light, we hate it. Jesus said in John 3:19“…Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.” Our generation would rather have you deceive them and make them happy than offend them and save their souls. And if you offend them like Jesus did because you do not agree with them, the immature reaction is that you do not love them. Rick Warren puts it perfectly when he says, “Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.”
- God wants me to be rich
The rich young man approached Jesus. He asked Christ what he needed to do to have eternal life. Jesus sets the bar. He mentions a few of the Old Testament laws (obviously which every human has broken). The expected response is that the man will see how short he falls and in need of a saviour, for no man can keep the laws of God without fault. The rich young man declares that he has kept all those since childhood. I can almost see Jesus’ thoughts. He challenges the man to declare his love for eternity. To sell all he has and follow Jesus. The man turns away sorrowful for he owned quite a fortune. Popular culture does not like that parable. Jesus taught that the love of money is what will prevent many from entering the Kingdom of Heaven. In the parable of the sower, he taught how the deceitfulness of wealth can hinder the words of the scriptures from reaching the core of our hearts. His faithful servant Paul spoke a verse that we rarely quote. 1 Timothy 6:9 “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.”
Does God want you to be rich? No verse in scripture supports this. In fact, Jesus teaches that the enemy of servitude to God is money. Matthew 6:24 says you cannot serve two masters. Either you will hate one or love the other. You can’t serve both God and money. Jesus is teaching something that we obviously oppose. Popular culture says that we actually can serve both God and money. Does God want you to be rich? He teaches in the parable of the sower that the reason the word of God does not enter the hearts of men and women is because of the deceitfulness of wealth. His faithful servant Paul the Apostle teaches in 1st Timothy 6 that people who want to get rich quickly expose give in to temptation very easily. Many believers who want this teaching to be true defend it using the poverty angle. Yet in Christ’s messages, he mentions nothing about poverty. I am not saying that God wants you to be poor. The reaction about poverty reveals the insecurity of our hearts. God wants you to be content. Paul states in 1st Timothy 6:6 that contentment is the key. Jesus says in Matthew 6 not to worry. The prosperity gospel hinges on weak facts such as Jesus having a money account and King Solomon being rich. God is more interested in you being spiritually mature than in being rich. Luke 12:21 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ “So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”
What other false teachings of pop culture do you know that are slipping into the church?