I cannot accept the popcorn and movie approach to the Kingdom of God being touted by many. You can call it ‘Popcorn Christianity’. The idea of gain without cost is a fantasy. While I fully understand the meaning of faith and the significance of the finished work of Jesus we still have a cross to bear. Advances in the Kingdom of God will not be accomplished with a laisser-faire apathetic posture. Popcorn Christianity embodies the idea that says, ‘seeing as God did it all, I can sit back and enjoy the movie.’
Since when did freedom become equated with a life free of obligation? How is it some consider responsibility synonymous with legalism as though it were only part of the Old Covenant? We are obliged… correction – commanded to love one another. I can think of no obligation broader in it’s implications.
Yes, the command to love suggests there is a requirement. There is an obligation! If this is to be associated with legalism then perhaps the faith we are choosing to embrace is not faith at all, but another expression of lawlessness. Make no mistake: faith is a life indebted to Christ. And what do we make of grace? Grace is the power of God available to meet the demand of love. But walking in grace is not nearly as easy as it sounds.
There is a clear refining process the Spirit of God uses to train us. There is much to said about it and little space in this article. Suffice it to declare for the moment that true maturity does not lead us to abandon our service to Christ or his people. Rather, love will compel us to increase the intensity and focus of it by increasing our capacity for responsibility. Escaping from responsibility is not the answer! Grace will always provide the power to meet that obligation. To that end the Spirit of God will illuminate where and when shame or pride are our motives, not to release us from obligation, but to shift the source we use to meet that obligation. Popcorn Christianity is a fasle path to freedom. But there is no avoiding the journey necessary for maturity.
One of the characteristics of immaturity in this sense is a penchant for wild swings. For example I have often seen believers take on far more that they can bear (motivated by ambition) only to later find themselves suffocating under the smallest of obligations. They engage, inflated by the prospect of being ‘important’ only to find the grace necessary to perform is lacking. I have done this myself. Often this is followed by some form of guilt or sense of failure. At this point the flesh kicks in again convincing them all obligations are legalism and the result of other people’s impositions, while it is our own pride and our own shame that is culpable. Humility and repentance are the responses the Spirit of God is looking for.
Those who find themselves in the throes of this journey need neither be offended nor disgusted. No one learns to ski or skate without falling down a few times. This is the process by which God purifies our hearts. It is in fact a sign God is doing something wonderful in you. It is important to not run from the process however. This is a typical immature response. In this context those who use their struggle with guilt as the means to escape responsibility might find themselves escaping their destiny as well.
Remember: commitment and sacrifice have always preceded the increase of the Kingdom of God. This is part of what it means to become a co-labourer and a joint heir with Christ. Popcorn Christianity means you might just end up watching destiny unfold rather than being part of it.