As some of you may know, I am now living in Nain, Labrador. It’s a community on the north coast of Labrador, where the only ways in are by airplane or boat (and since there’s ice off shore, just airplane at the moment).
It’s a community of about 1500 people nestled among mountains, with pristine lakes around, and large areas of wilderness around. It is gorgeous in the extreme.
Last Sunday, I went to church here. It was a small pentecostal congregation, one of three churches in the area. A few things about it surprised me though, as the offering was small, and the congregation (with a few exceptions) did not seem to express much interest in Jesus. There was no real love expressed for anything, save the gift of Jesus Christ in saving us from sin.
Don’t get me wrong, that’s a good reason to love Jesus, and we are right to praise Him for that, but it seemed to me that the great goal of the Church was personal salvation and wealth rather than communion with God through Jesus Christ.
It was for that reason that I ended up asking my brother why Church plants fail here. In his opinion, it is because most Churches here are seen as charities in search of people to give to, and so people simply receive without giving anything.
To me, the result is that Churches are simply places people go to get money, food, and even cigarettes, rather than a place people go to receive joy, peace, and salvation from God. This isn’t surprising, as when I think about it, that’s where my heart is sometimes. I see salvation as a minor thing, and keep demanding that I receive other lesser things like a career, a better body, or a girlfriend. The reason is pride, to be honest, as most times I think it is a small thing that God forgives me my sin and works to make me righteous even as the righteousness of Christ is imputed to me. What I receive seems minor since I believe I deserve to receive it. That seems to me to be pride.
The result is that grace ceases to really be grace, and what I claim to receive is actually owed me. The sheer audacity is staggering, but it is what cheap grace essentially leads to. This is why I honesly believe people still need to be convinced of their sinfulness…. because I DO. Without that, I fall easilly into believing what God gives me is mine because I have a right to it, and God is there to fulfill my needs (God does fulfill my needs, but for his own glory, not because I deserve it). God is there for no external reason and is glorious, I am here to praise him, but I reverse it by making God my welfare provider.
Oh God, that I might value you more!