Churchianity vs Kingdom Christianity

  By Marc Lawson

A clarification
At the beginning of this, let me assure everyone of my love for and devotion to the purpose and maturity of the Church, the Bride of Christ. I would never speak out about the deficiencies of something I am not willing to work to help fix. Any one can criticize any thing, but what good is that? But criticism that can expose the weaknesses and leads to constructive change is something quite different. In our society, business and the media are quick to change due to the fact they would not exist if they don't. Sadly, few institutions in America are as slow to respond to change as the church.

Churchianity vs Kingdom Christianity
The church, with all its programs and activities has somehow helped create an alternate society, nearly impotent to bring life to those who are perishing, and completely unattractive to the lost. Very few care what the church has to say about important matters. Our present church system is more American than Kingdom, based more on skillful business and marketing expertise than supernatural intervention. We have created our own cult of "churchianity"(my apologies to whoever first coined this phrase) that does not resemble the Kingdom of God. This "American Churchianity" is probably our biggest obstacle to real Kingdom Christianity.

Part of the reason for this is that for some time now the church has become more spiritually proud and in doing so, succumbed to a state of denial and delusion about its effectiveness and fruitfulness. The word delusion means: To hold to a false belief; a deception that has been disseminated in spite of invalidating evidence; To be delusional means: to hold to that false belief no matter what evidence is brought to the contrary. "They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness." (2 Thessalonians 2:11-12)

The Kingdom of God is expanding all over the world and entrance is not exclusively reserved for American church attenders, but believers from any nation who believe in Jesus and accept His Kingdom Lordship. There is such stubborn rebellion to accept this that just a few years ago several best-selling evangelical American books refuted the concept of "Lordship Salvation" or "Kingdom Now" theology, as they called it. I guess they believe Jesus is…. just all right, but certainly not Lord! While America has heard the truth of the saving power of Jesus, the Gospel of the Kingdom is rarely preached in American churches. Just a random look at the church's absolute failure to affect our culture or reflect the Kingdom should humble any honest American Christian. The church is preaching a message not about the Kingdom, but an Americanized version that doesn't call to commitment and is void of power.

In many ways we have been "left behind" in the things of the Kingdom. Apostolic Christianity born of a Kingdom message and accurate gospel is erupting in Africa, South America, Asia and even Russia, but is slow to be received in the American religious system. In the 1990's, thousands of missionaries from other nations flocked to America to help prepare us for a spiritual awakening. These missionaries to America came here to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom, declaring God's reign and describing His ways and means. This gospel preaches salvation in Jesus, but also calls us to a higher level of commitment and allegiance to the Lord Jesus. It occasionally takes the eyes of others to help us see our spiritual deficiencies.

The King AND the Kingdom
"The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since then the gospel of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it. (Luke 16:16) "And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force. (Matthew 11:12)

While certainly the gospel has been preached here in America, it has been incomplete and aspects involving a Christian's citizenship in the Kingdom have been neglected. Most preaching is directed at getting People to respond and "be saved", "come to the altar" or "join the church". While these are important, they were just another part of the lifestyle of the church in the Acts era. The gospel is NOT an invitation, but a declaration of a Kingdom that is not coming someday or "in the sweet bye-and bye" but today.

Most American preaching & teaching is focused on the church rather than the Kingdom. Because of this, Christians have little real understanding of an alternate way of living and being, a higher realm. While the word "church" is found 76 times in the New Testament but the Kingdom of God is mentioned 160 times! The Kingdom is the rule and reign of God and not a meeting, program or activity. The church on the other hand proceeds out of the activity of the Kingdom. While the church and ministries can be built, the Kingdom cannot. It can only be recognized, unlocked and acknowledged. Jesus is Lord whether anyone acknowledges it or not. (Philippians 2:10-11) Sooner or later the earth will be filled with the Knowledge of the glory of God. Right now it may not be fully acknowledged, but someday soon it will! "For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea. (Habakkuk 2:14)

In an attempt to keep the people of God away from the influence of "the world", the American Church has tried to create an "alternative", another society where Christian music, Christian TV, Christian writing and art is segregated from the world. While the motive of creating this alternative is a desire to be holy, because the church is no longer among the world it has no affect on the world. Salt can't flavor something hidden in the cupboard and light can't affect the darkness around other lights. Instead of being the salt of the earth and light of the world, the church has become a sub-standard sect of ineffective, immature Christians unaccustomed to persecution and unable to overcome adversity.

False Understanding of Holiness
The prime reason for the Church's retreat from being among the world is a false and unbiblical view of holiness based on this one passage of scripture that has been misunderstood. "I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters; for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he should be an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler-- not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES." (1 Corinthians 5:9-13) "Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?" ( 2 Corinthians 6:14) )

These passages were not talking about separation from the world, but judgment in the church! The second passage specifically prohibits marriage (or dating) of Christians and non-Christians.

How can we understand holiness if we don't understand the fact that God called the church to judge itself and keep itself pure? "Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." (2Corinthains7:1 ) For one thing, the church has lost the capacity to judge itself on biblical grounds because there's such a profound lack of moral authority in leadership. For example, the Catholic Church has been covering up and settling its pedophilia cases for years. Instead of the leadership addressing the wrong doctrine they adhere to, preventing priests and nuns from marriage, they instead cover it up by settling lawsuits out of court.

A second reason is because everyone is afraid of "judging". We mix up Jesus' command not to judge in Matthew 7. But that passage was about judging one another on outward appearances versus heart attitudes. "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment." (Matthew 7:24) "…for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." (2 Samuel 16:7) of opinions and preferences, but when it comes to clear biblical standards concerning marriage, homosexuality and purity, we look the other way.