The reality is that many visible members of the Christian church seem to be hooked on and infatuated with whatever trend is newest and seemingly most promising.
Each new trend claims to be the answer to what is “missing” in one’s Christian experience and in the life of the church. Take for example, the prayer of Jabez, the Promise Keepers, the various Christian recovery programs, the contemporary music trend, conversational preaching, the use of drama and/or dance in “worship,” PowerPoint and video productions, men getting wild at heart, accountability partners, open confession of sins of every variety, the health and wealth gospel movement, and on and on.
The reason for most of this fanatical frenzy of trend chasing is that many in the visible church have not experienced the genuine life of Christ and the changes that are wrought when one is truly and genuinely saved. They have, instead, been sold a form of religion which is nothing but a placebo and they wonder why their experience does not match up to the description that they were given when they bought into this religion. The real problem is not our church architecture, our technology of lack thereof, our mode of music, etc. The real problem is that many have taken a religious placebo instead of the real thing thinking that they have genuinely received Christ in a saving way. As Pogo said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
Much of the contemporary church with its false message and understanding of the gospel is the real problem. Many in the visible church have been sold a religious placebo instead of the gospel. They have never been told of the need for genuine repentance from sin or that a mere membership in church is not sufficient to save one spiritually. When you take the placebo you can feverishly and sincerely chase after every religious activity and trend under the sun but it won’t ever be the real thing and it won’t ever bring you true lasting salvation and contentment.
The right course of conduct is for each person to evaluate whether effectively dealing with their sin and pleasing God was at the root of what they did and why they did it when they supposedly became a Christian. Each person must reevaluate whether they honestly confessed and still confess their sins understanding that we were and are powerlessness to cleanse ourselves of sins before God’s all-knowing and just eyes.
Each one must honestly reflect on whether they turned from sin to trust completely in Jesus Christ by faith alone (and nothing else) for their salvation from sin. Trusting that he died to save sinners like them from sin, was buried, and rose again from the dead on the third day as a powerful proof that sin and death had been conquered. Was sin the issue? Was Jesus Christ the only answer/savior? Was faith alone the only mechanism? Some will undoubtedly find out such was not the case for them and must, therefore, conclude that they took a religious placebo instead of the real thing.
The result of such a right course of action is that when true salvation occurs the converted sinner is content and satisfied in Christ. Surely, they are eager to grow spiritually and to make progress in grace but they don’t need to buy into the latest trend to find something that is missing in their spiritual life. They have found the answer – God has revealed it to them in Christ. They don’t mistake the placebo of religion for the real thing.
Which do you have – the religious placebo or the real thing?
Dr. Randall Odom is senior pastor of Grace Church of the Carolina’s, gracecoc.org.