This season is difficult enough as it is. But what breaks my heart is that it's made even more challenging by the cross-less version of Christianity most Americans have. This lack of understanding about crucification and transformation; death and resurrection, causes many of those going through a crucifixion to be judged and rejected. Crucifixion is not pretty. It often involves things like moral failure, divorce, job loss, terrible financial decisions, loss of a home, loss of security, personal failure, humiliation, and/or betrayal by close friends and/or family. And like when Jesus faced His cross, it is the Father who leads us right to it, not for the pain and the shame one will endure, but because of the glory on the other side of it. There is an amazing transformation that takes place. This is where we die and Christ lives through us more fully.
This all came to mind as I'm watching a well-known evangelical author go through what I believe is his own crucification leading to transformation. It breaks my heart to see Christians writing articles about his failures and seeking to cling to the previous version of him that is now dead while rebuking the transformed man that is coming to life. The thing is, when I see failure in the church, I have a different reaction than many Christians. I believe the modern state of Christianity is a train wreck. It's loaded with the quest for money, power, fame, control, and lots of other works of the flesh. So, when I hear of a pastor or leader failing I get this glimmer of hope. I ponder, "Could this be his/her crucification leading to transformation?" I hold out hope that this is the love of the Father taking this person to the cross to free him/her from the worldly systems in which he/she has been a part. Sometimes that's the case, sometimes it's not, but I hold out hope none-the-less.
The people I know who truly love like Jesus and are drawing people to Christ have ALL been through seasons of death and not ONE of them look anything like they did at the start of their journey. I'm not talking merely about moral changes, like we we hear in many conversion testimonies or simply coming into conformity with a congregation or a denomination's doctrinal beliefs. I'm talking radical foundational transformation in the heart and in the mind. Each of them went through DRASTIC transformation.
-One was a rising preaching star functioning at a caliber most pastors only dream about. He abandoned that whole world having found a loving Father and gained a love that causes him to invest his life into others, making disciples.
-One was a pastor for 30 years that had influence in the church community in a large city and lead a successful evangelical church. He gave up his title and salary, the people willingly sold the building, and he walked away from that whole scene. Now he lives a simple life but has tremendous influence on the lives believers all around the world as he helps them get back to the bottom line of following Jesus - loving Him and loving others.
-One is a brilliant man with an intellect that runs circles around most people. He pastored several congregations and had seen it all, the good, the bad, and the ugly. He was pulling down an extremely comfortable salary. But he walked away from it all and now he teaches people all over the world, helping them get untangled from twisted doctrines and Bible beliefs to have a revelation of Jesus, the exact representation of God.
-One pastored a mega church and regularly had millions of dollars flow through his hands. He walked away from it all and now he feeds the hungry in his community and is a spiritual father in the lives of several men.
-One was a pastor of a thriving house church network, a published author and a known writer for a popular Evangelical magazine. Now he travels the world helping people learn to live loved by their heavenly Father. He still writes, but now all his writing is for that purpose. You've probably heard of some of his works.
-One has a powerful prophetic gift and is a gifted teacher. He's the son of the founder and leader of a church and ministry that was recognized all around the world. He had a prominent position, recognition, and authority in the church. He left that whole scene and now pours into the lives of others and helps people know the amazing grace and love of God.
-One was a gifted youth pastor on the road to becoming a senior pastor. His speaking gift often got him offers to be on staff at various congregations. He left all that and now teaches students at a low income high school and produces videos for the purpose of helping people live free from the lies religion tells them about God and themselves.
What lead to such radical transformation in the lives of these people?
- Extreme frustration
- Suicidal Thoughts
People keep talking about the fact that Christianity is dying in America. Well, of course it is! Christianity is dying because it refuses to die.
Loren M. Rosser
Loren M. Rosser