“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24
When I moved to Atlanta in 1989, I set out to find a church to attend that was close to where I was living at the time. I visited several and began attending a new small evangelical church that was meeting at Paces Academy.
It took me awhile to figure out that this was an off chute of Willow Creek Community Church outside Chicago, which was a new and much publicized church model that, at the time, many evangelical churches sought to copy. Its growth, and programs seemed to scream “success.” And indeed their growth was phenomenal.
They called their model “seeker friendly”. Their primary focus was on the person visiting who was unsaved and/or had grown tired of the traditional type church. Many churches pounced on this model because of its success in rapidly increasing church attendance.
Unfortunately, what came out this grand experiment was a watered down Gospel that produced people who believe there is a God, but define their God differently than what the Bible teaches.
Sociologist Christian Smith of the University of North Carolina, who has studied American Christianity in depth… writes that the “de facto dominant religion” now among young American’s, is what he calls “moral therapeutic deism.”
According to this “religion,” God created and watches over the world, but otherwise is only to be called upon to solve problems. All He requires is that people be nice and fair to each other, “as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.” Not surprisingly, “the central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.”
This is the logical outcome of reducing the entirety of the Christian faith to “Jesus and me.” This Jesus does not challenge the way we see the world, much less how we live in it because He wants us to be happy; so He sanctions our desires.
The problem is, this “new kind of faith in Jesus” bears little, if any, resemblance to the Jesus of the Bible and historic Christianity. For the mature Christian, it’s not “Jesus and me”, it’s just Jesus!