Message From Matt | August 17, 2018

Consumer Based Religion! 

I think that there is a problem in many religious circles that goes undiagnosed and untreated!  It is the problem of doing spiritual duties (i.e. going to church, giving your money, and even reading the Bible) to be served (“get blessed”) as opposed to doing those things as a reflection of our love and obedience to God.  The rationale of those that think this way is that if they go to church, give their tithe, and read their Bible, then God will bless them with more money, more health, and more blessings.  Although there is truth in the fact that God does command us to go to church (Hebrews 10:25), give our money cheerfully (2 Corinthians 9:7), and follow the Bible (Psalm 119, Hebrews 4:12), we should NEVER do those things with the primary purpose of getting things (i.e. “Blessings”) in return.  This mindset is what many refer to as “consumer based religion” or in my vernacular, this person is a “taker”!  Doing spiritual things to “get” rather than to “give”!

What’s the problem with consumer based religion? There are many but I will only focus on a few:

  • Motives are important! Sure, God can see past motives and still work good in people’s lives but every time that happens, that is an act of God’s mercy and grace that shouldn’t be taken for granted.  Our motives should be based around obedience to God’s Word and His leading, as well as love towards Him for His saving grace! Motives are the picture of your heart…what is your motive for serving the Lord?
  • Checking the box! So many think that if they check off the box of their spiritual activities like they are checking off chores on their “to do list “ that they will be blessed by God.  The problem with this is that legalism sets in rather than a vibrant relationship with Christ!  Again, spiritual disciplines like prayer and Bible reading should be done, but doing these in robotic fashion just so you can check it off your to do list for the day is not God’s intention.  God doesn’t want a robot – He wants a person whose heart is intone with His!  

You will have problems in this life!  The big problem with doing things just so that God will bless you is that when hard times do come, the person with this mindset is left bewildered as to why these things took place.  The questions to God begin to form in our mind, such as, “God, I am doing everything that you want me to, why is this hard thing happening?  Why aren’t you blessing me?”  Although I completely understand why we would ask such  questions, I believe that many times we get to that mindset because we think just because we are doing certain spiritual acts that everything should be rosy…however, that is not the case!  In fact, Jesus said in John 16:33 that we would have tribulation in this world, so we should expect problems to take place!  

Abiding in Christ is the opposite of consumer based religion!

To abide in Christ is far different than checking off your spiritual to do list.  It is constantly being present with the Lord.  Meaning…He will never leave us, so we should also stay close to him as well.  Abiding is drawing close to God!  Abiding is trusting in God no matter what situation is going on in your life!  Abiding is persevering even in troubling seasons.  The only reason that we can have hope through troubles is because of Christ!  His resurrection!  His interceding on our behalf!  His promise of returning for us!  All of these things give us hope!   Abide!  Trust!  

Abiding in Christ leads to producing fruit!  Jesus is the source of this fruit!  

The natural byproduct of abiding with Christ is fruit, not a completed checklist!  The fruit of the Spirit grows in us!  The fruit of obedience grows in us!  The fruit of trusting in God grows in us!  The fruit of justice grows in us.  In fact, it is impossible not to grow fruit in our life as we abide with Christ but don’t ever forget where that fruit comes from!  It comes from Jesus.  Look at what Jesus said in John 15:4-5, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.  I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” The question that has to be asked is, “Are you bearing fruit in your life?”  

If you are bearing fruit, remember that anything good in your life doesn’t come from you!  It comes from Jesus!  Since it comes from Him, then we should abide in Him!  We should love and obey Him because of what He has done for us!  We should serve Him not to just check off a box, but because He has done everything for us!  As we abide in Him, He changes everything for us!