Oh that God would raise up missionaries. I don’t wish the same things your parents want for you. They want for you security and insurance and nice homes. They want for you cars and respect. I want for you the same thing I want for my son. That one day he takes a banner…the banner of Jesus Christ. And he places it on a hill…where noone has ever placed the banner before. And he cries out, “Jesus Christ is Lord!” Even if it costs my son his life.
Oh when he’s 18 years old…if he says to me the same thing I said when I was a young man. “I’m going into the mountains. I’m going into the jungle.” And they say, “You can’t go there. You’re insane. It’s a war. You’re going to die.” When that little boy puts on his backpack, I’m going to pray over him and say, “Go! Go! God be with you. And if you die, my son, I’ll see you over there and I’ll honor your death.” (Paul Washer)
The above was taken from Paul’s sermon. Please go and listen to it if you have time. I can’t say I agree with everything he preached in his sermon because of my strong view of grace (bits of which can be found somewhere here). However, other than the concern that some things he said may sound slightly too legalistic for my liking, I wish every pastor preached like him. I’ll admit that one of the reasons why I have not been attending church that regularly for the past few years is that I can’t stand church. I don’t hear from the pulpit what I read in the Bible. The message of Christ was a radical message. Jesus, his disicples and the early Christians lived a radical lifestyle and suffered for their faith. They sacrificed their lives to serve God. They sacrificed their standard of living to help the poor. And they sacrificed their comfortable lives to reach the lost, not being afraid to offend others and suffer persecution. Nowadays, it’s just too difficult for comfortable Christians in the First World to live such a radical lifestyle. And so most pastors obligingly water down the radical message of Christ to fit this modern culture. Paul certainly doesn’t do so in his message. Here’s how he started his message:
I stand here today. I’m not troubled in my heart about your self-esteem. I’m not troubled in my heart about whether or not you feel good about yourself, whether or not life is turning out like you want it to turn out, or whether or not your checkbook is balanced. There’s only one thing that gave me a sleepless night. There’s only one thing that troubled me all throughout the morning. And that is this: within a hundred years, a great majority of people in this building will possibly be in hell. And many who even profess Jesus Christ as Lord will spend eternity in hell. You say, “Pastor, how can you say such a thing?” I can say such a thing because I don’t do my Christian work in America. I spend most of my time preaching in South America, in Africa and Eastern Europe. And I want you to know that when you take a look at American Christianity, it is based more on a godless culture than it is upon the Word of God. And so many people are deceived. And so many youth are deceived. And so many adults are deceived into believing that because they prayed a prayer one time in their life, they are going to heaven. And then when they look around at others who profess to know Christ, and see those people also just as worldly as the world, and they compare themselves by themselves, nothing troubles their heart.
Not only is American Christianity corrupted in many ways, but also the Christianity you get in most of the First World – Singapore included – and also many parts of the Third World. Our Christianity differs little from that in America. The books we read, the Christian leaders we respect and the pastors we invite to speak in our Churches all come from America. I’m not Anti-American. Indeed, if you ask me to name the three Christians I respect the most of whom I am personally acquainted with, all would be Americans. However, most of American (and Western) Christianity is heavily influenced by the materialistic and consumeristic American and Western culture. That’s why the radical message of Jesus Christ is compromised so easily.