Weekly Bulletin Articles
Webster defines “superficial” as “(1) being on the surface; not penetrating the substance of a thing; as a superficial color; a superficial covering; (2) hallow; contrived to cover something; and (3) not deep or profound; reaching or comprehending only what is obvious or apparent; as a superficial scholar; superficial knowledge.”
Superficial Christianity looks good on the surface, but it is of no “value against the indulgences of the flesh” (Col. 2:23). Our Lord calls for sacrificial, not superficial faith. There is a marked difference between the two.
First, a superficial faith produces a comfortable Christianity; one that does not interfere with one’s predisposed life-style. It is a Christianity that places no restrictions upon an individual, requires no repentance, exacts no restrictions, and asks for no sacrifice. Unaccustomed to feeding upon the word, superficial Christians are incapable of taking more than short doses of the spiritual medicine that is needed to cure their sin-sick soul. The meat of the word makes them gag. Moral principles are rejected for mere platitudes that make them feel at ease, and any sermon that runs more than fifteen minutes is viewed as a waste of time and an imposition upon their busy schedule. Once a week, or in some cases only once or twice a year, these nominal believers make their appearance, pay their dues, and punch their spiritual clock, and that, at the “church of their choice” that meets their personal taste in style of worship and brand of theology. Easter Sunday and Christmas are the apex of their spiritual activity. Daily cross-bearing means nothing to them.
Second, superficial Christianity will produce a church that is foreign to the blood-bought institution we read about in the pages of the New Testament. The leaders are quick to provide those things that will help increase the numbers, but fall short of improving spiritual maturity. The denominations have long sought to entertain rather than enlighten. The church is viewed as some sort of organization designed to administer spiritual anesthesia; something akin to a haven of rest where the indolent and idle may congregate to escape their moral and spiritual responsibilities in a world of darkness and doubt. Those who have only superficial faith view the church as some sort of safety zone in the midst of the highways of life into which people can go to avoid the dangers they encounter every day. But once the danger is past, the weak in faith abandon the church like the proverbial rat that abandons a sinking ship. The church is nothing more than an old folk’s home where the spiritually defective might find shelter. Someone noted more than a century ago, the church “is not a sort of spiritual Florida to which people can migrate in order to escape the chilling blasts of a cold, unfriendly world.” I wish that such misconceptions were limited to those in the denominational world, but so much of this “give me” mentality has infiltrated the Lord’s church today. Oh, how I wish it were not so! Having had the opportunity to travel about our country seeking funds for my mission work, I have come to learn that we have spent so much on creature comforts and neglected the Creator’s commission to go into all the world. I have visited congregations willing to borrow millions to build an elaborate building, and make long term commitments to mortgage payments, but are willing to commit themselves to more than a year at a time to mission endeavors. One wonders if we have not been the victims of superficial Christianity.
Third, superficial Christianity will not save. I am writing to an audience who knows (or at least should know) the demands from our Father and His Son. “...If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul” (Matt. 16:24-26)? “So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33). “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matt. 6:24).
Superficial Christianity is the antonym of genuine saving faith. It is confined to the realm of convenience and comfort. Seldom is there a call for real sacrifice. Suppers, sales and entertainment are the means by which people are brought into the church, and through more exciting and more numerous entertainment and programs they are tricked into believing that they are making sacrifices and living the kind of life God wants them to live. No wonder the church has lost its influence in a world that seems to be overrun with evil and ungodliness. The Gospel is no longer considered the power unto salvation, but the power unto sensationalism. There are churches out there that are indeed sensational with their Broadway style productions and glitter and glamour that thrill men, but they do not offer what it takes to save the souls of men. In this, they have long ago compromised.
God help us to return to His great wisdom, and build churches that seek and save the lost rather than seeking to serve and satisfy the masses. Anything else is only superficial Christianity.