We have recently been reading and meditating on a book titled The Alluring Brightness of His Glory (By R.L. Coursey, 2017). The subtitle is most telling: Cherishing the Preeminence of Christ above the Counterfeit Offers of a Consumer-driven Christianity.
The author has so many incredible insights on the consumer-driven, laodicean-bent church of our day. He clearly discerns the true problem, and only solution – the Lord Jesus Christ! Well – you may just have to read it. But I hope to help you along with a quote from page 39. (I added my emphasis)
“Justification and the forgiveness of sins alone are not sufficient to cure the depravity of man’s heart. As essential as they are, they do not define the totality of man’s salvation. Something must happen within us, as well as without us. Man must be born again. New life must be generated. To counter the depraved nature, a new and opposite nature must be imparted.
Those who do not see sin in the heart as the cause of all of man’s ills, will not see the urgency for the new birth, and focus exclusively on the consequences of the guilt of sin as the real problem of man. We must show man both his need for forgiveness and the new birth. Simply ignoring the depraved nature of the human heart, while promoting the free forgiveness of sins that is offered in Christ, cannot be without the most serious consequences. No matter how burdened one feels over his sins, it is nothing but self-idolatry, unless one desires the new heart that accompanies forgiveness. One must be burdened with himself, and not merely with the consequences of his actions against himself. False presumptions of forgiveness will always follow the false preaching of forgiveness. ‘He who is not acquainted with God’s holiness and purity, who knows not sin’s desert and sinfulness, knows nothing of forgiveness,’ says Owen (John Owen, theologian, pastor, author – 1616-1683). This more marketable form of Christianity may produce a more populous and popular Christianity, but in the end a more depraved one; one that reflects so unworthily on the glory of God that it becomes a deformity which He cannot bear to look upon. As the Laodicean succeeded like no other church in becoming relevant to man, so it also succeeded in making itself less relevant to God.”
Some churches in our modern culture will casually offer forgiveness of sin without clearly preaching the depths of our sin and explaining why Jesus had to be crucified. The result of that “casual gospel” is that the church goers are more consumers who are being sold something that appeals to them. Something that seems good to us – forgiveness of sins – is merely marketed as an appeal to human nature, rather than the stark reality of Christ crucified as center stage.
Has this also connected the “consumer” to a watered down model of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ? Have many leaders encouraged people to join and enjoy a mystical, feel-good Christ, instead of the true, biblical Christ? Are the converts from these churches willing to suffer for Christ outside the camp (Hebrews 13:12-14)? Are they willing to suffer because they are new creatures, citizens of a different kingdom? Or does the modern church want to appeal to the world by offering a more gracious, gentle Jesus, without revealing He is also a holy and a merciful Lord? Sometimes deception can be as simple as ignoring individual aspects of Christ found in Scripture, not preaching all of who Christ is.
We feel that when the modern church embraces a consumer-driven, church-growth model of “outreach,” they have embraced a different purpose other than preaching Christ and Him crucified to a lost and depraved people.