Inoculated to the Gospel
This is only the third sermon I’ve listened to, and I’m already seeing a common theme: People these days aren’t as nearly as psyched up about God as preachers think they should be. In fact, if you’re not a raving bible-thumper, you might not even be a real Christian. You best check yourself.
This one is from Gathering Church in Cabot, Arkansas. Perry Carpenter is the speaker. The theme here is that people in south have been inoculated to the gospel. They hear the words of Christianity and know the stories well enough, but they don’t really “get it”. They don’t have Christ in their heart.
“But what we see here in [Acts] 18 and 19 is that there are people who had just snippets of information and it would take them way off course from where they wanted to be. And we know that that’s true as well. Especially in the Internet age, you get a little pain in your foot or some weird symptom, and you start looking stuff up, and you can really quickly start inudating yourself with information. But what you can’t do is you can’t give yourself wisdom. And you can’t give yourself experience on how to apply that information. And so what we see here in 18 and 19 is that there are a lot of people had information, but it wasn’t information that was relevant to the change that needed to happen in their heart. And especially in the south in the U.S., we see that quite a bit. One of the terms I hear people say is that people in the south have been almost innoculated to the gospel. One of the things that we do in modern medicine, we give vaccines. When you give vaccines or when you give shots that are immunizations, you give just a little bit of the virus. And that little bit of the virus helps you gain defense over the larger virus as a whole.”
Wait a second… is he actually referring to religion as a virus here? Not that I don’t disagree, but wow! Purely accidental, I’m sure. So, what he’s saying here is that you could know tons of stuff about Christianity, go to church every Sunday, and still not have Jesus in your heart.
Considering this, I have to wonder: Does this sort of sermon provoke feelings of guilt in Christians? You’ve gone to church your whole life, and you could STILL not be saved! Even if you think you are. The only way to really be sure is to dedicate your life to Christ as much as possible.
“In the south really, and in the U.S., we have so identified Christ with the culture that we have, that you can go and interview lots of people and they’ll say “Yes, I’m a Christian”, but they’re a Christian in such a way that Christ hasn’t invaded their heart and hasn’t invaded their life and made a real change. And what we see there is that’s a religion that is empty. And though Christ might be on somebody’s lips, or Jesus might be on somebody’s lips, they know about him but they don’t know him. They don’t have the intimate knowledge of who Christ is and how he can transform a life. They just know that they’re raised in a “Christian Nation”, their parents were Christians, they went to church, they may even go to church. But the question is, have we, have those around us, have those in other churches all throughout the city, all through the state been inoculated to the gospel? So much that we’ll say that “Yes, we’re Christian”, but when we leave these doors we act like totally different people than what Christ would say is indicative of a Christian.”
Yes! The problem with religion these days is that people aren’t more nuts about it. We need more religious extremists! The message is clear here: Religion should infect every single part of your life. All you people who have told me in the past to leave religion alone, to live and let live? “What does it matter what you believe?” How does it not matter what you believe when it infects every single part of your life? Now, not everyone is like this. But according to this guy, those people aren’t even true Christians!
I see why he’s saying this, of course. If you believe the religion is real, then you should by all means go full-tilt with it. But it just smacks a little bit of duplicity when you hear people saying that we should just leave the Christians alone and that they’re not bothering anybody while they’re in their churches hearing that you’re not really saved unless you bring God into every single part of your life. Then, you get things like creationism in science classes, global warming denialism (God wouldn’t let our Earth fall apart!), the pro-life movement, and anti-gay sentiments. As Matt Dillahunty is fond of saying, “Your beliefs inform your actions.”
It also seems like this sort of thinking gives people license to be very judgemental to other Christians. If you see someone who’s not living their life the way you think they should, they’ve probably fallen off the wagon. Satan is probably living in their brain, whispering lies to them. You’d better straighten them out. Tell them how wrong they are. Heap that guilt on. Make them feel bad. Smack them back into line. It’s their soul on the line, after all.