Three Faith Viruses to Watch in 2020

There are three theological viruses floating around these days that concern me.

My concerns are two-fold: 1) They have wide appeal 2) I can see why they have wide appeal.

The first virus is the idea that God exists for us. God’s function is to make us happy, give us what we want and make our dreams come true. I truly get the appeal of making God a means to worldly prosperity but the message of Christ actually stands antithetical to this notion. Jesus taught that true happiness is found in submitting our dreams for ourselves to the dream of God for our lives. Jesus taught that we live by dying to self, become great by serving and our lives are defined by what we give away, not by what we have. In fact, Jesus said clearly that until the grip of material things is broken in our lives we invite an existence of anxiety and worry (the diametrical opposite of happiness). Here is the deal; God does not exist for us, we exist for God. God is not a means to our ends, God is an ends in Himself.

The second virus is the notion that Christian people should spend their lives in waiting for some great thing God may ask of them. The idea is to say “no” to the good in hopes of the very best. I get the appeal of the notion to worn out and discouraged church and charity volunteers but the bible does not support the premise. Waiting for a “burning bush” call that only has occurred once in the history of humanity seems like a bad use of the limited years we have on earth. In sharp contrast, the bible teaches that being faithful in small things is actually what qualifies and prepares us for a call to greater things. I am convinced the true greatness of a person is not defined in a single heroic act but in the grind of daily faithfulness and obedience to God. I don’t think “burning bushes” or “for such at time as this” moments are the inheritance of those sequestered in wait. Here is the deal; if you hope God will use you to do one thing big, be faithful in all things small. There is a lot right and not a thing wrong with living a simple life of love, faithfulness and obedience.

The third virus is that we are suddenly smarter than everyone else who has ever read the Bible. Such “enlightenment” is historically short-lived and never serves the Christian faith well. In this shift from classic liberalism, the focus is not “the Bible is wrong” (that one didn’t work); the focus is that “we have been reading the Bible wrong. Everybody.” These pseudo-theologians begin with socially popular outcomes and then steer the Bible their direction in a game of isogetical gymnastics. It would honestly be comical, if so many people were not taking it seriously. The harm will not be to the Bible, it will be to our culture who will lose its power, witness and critique. Surely, creating God in our own image will not stand (it never has) but we are worse for it. My default is that if the clear and consistent teachings of the Bible are in conflict with my way of thinking; it is me who stands in error.

If you see God simply as a means to your ends of your bank account moving up and to the right, you are missing the point.

If you are sitting around doing nothing in the midst of infinite opportunities to serve Jesus, you are missing the point.

If you think the Bible is something to twist and shape into your way of thinking, you are missing the point.

Contentment is found in sacrifice, calling is found in obedience and truth is found in God’s word.

Period.

Rev. Shane L. Bishop is the Sr. Pastor of Christ Church in Fairview Heights, Illinois.

Published by Rev. Shane L. Bishop

Senior Pastor of Christ Church, Fairview Heights, IL since 1997. I am an orthodox Christian but I am not in a bad mood about it. A Distinguished Evangelist of the United Methodist Church.

6 thoughts on “Three Faith Viruses to Watch in 2020

  1. This is excellent! They are like viruses… they are contagious and they spread. I get so frustrated with the prosperity teachings in particular because when people fail to realize a “return on investment” if you will, they leave the faith! I especially love this last line: “Contentment is found in sacrifice, calling is found in obedience and truth is found in God’s word.” Great post!

  2. Thank you for your sober and sound observations which are ultimately warnings desperately needed in these perilous times. One other virus the enemy of our soul has increasing seduced many with in the last few decades is the false signs and wonders movement, Thank God He made a way of escape for us. However, we pray for those caught up in following false teachers and false prophets who do not teach and preach the gospel of Christ… with repentance and the cross. Instead, they teach ‘another Christ’ and encourage the sheep to follow voice(s) they hear believing they hearing from Holy Spirit without testing the spirits. They are taught that any manifestation is spiritual because they ‘believe’ it to be and the stranger the manifestation, the more spiritual. Discernment of spiritual things is not founded in the truth of the Word. So grievous is that this movement appeals to feelings and emotions and spiritual pride of so many and particularly, young believers are caught up it’s dangerous deception. The Bible warns us of this very type of deception and delusion happening in these last days. We know that according to the word, so strong is the deception that if it were possible, even the elect would be deceived. We are in those days and if we love as Christ loves humanity, we will warn others .. sharing truth in love without regard to our reputation.
    Thank you for showing the love of Christ.

  3. Good summation! (I will therefore steal it) Not sure about the virus analogy but it gets attention. I think all three of these trends seem to affect practicing Christians (pauses to try to remove multiple planks from eye).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: