The End of Triumphalist Christianity by Dr Michael Brown for Ask Dr Brown
There is a Christianity that struts and boasts, a Christianity full of riches and swagger, a Christianity full of carnal energy and worldly success. It is a Christianity so full of self that it is virtually devoid of God. That kind of Christianity is headed for a major fall.
That Christianity is like the church of Laodicea in New Testament times which said of itself, “I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.” It was a church that flexed its muscles, a church that had arrived, a happening church.
But Jesus saw things differently. He said, “But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” (Revelation 3:17, NIV)
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What an extreme contrast in perceptions!
As the Lord said in another context when rebuking the religious leaders of the day, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.” (Luke 16:15, NASB)
Triumphalist Christianity boasts in its numbers, its power, its wealth, its buildings, its outward success. It leans on the arm of flesh. It preaches an ear-tickling, crowd-please message. It gains celebrity status in the eyes of the world.
This was the way of the so-called “super apostles” who pulled people away from Paul’s ministry in Corinth, promising riches and success. They had arrived. They were powerful. They had their act together. Who would not want to follow their lead? Who would not want to be just like them?
For those who had been seduced by these false apostles, Paul had some very strong words: “Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! Without us you have become kings! And would that you did reign, so that we might share the rule with you! For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.” (1 Corinthians 4:8–13, ESV)