The Changing Face of Christianity

31 Aug

Shift happens!

It has always happened… and it’s happening now.  This current shift / change is not your average garden variety, though.  It is an epic change from one Biblical age to the next age.  Sound too grandiose?  Listen to what the Bible says about this:

“… that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” – Eph 2:7

According to this verse, there must be at least two more ages beyond the age in which the book of Ephesians was written.  And so, even if you don’t think it’s probable, it is still possible to have an age shift in our day.

So what are the hallmarks at the transition of ages?

I believe a change of ages always involves a shift in what God is doing or how He is doing it.  For example, take a look at the change of ages from OT to NT… from Law to Grace.  It wasn’t just a little tweak of how we do things, it was a major revamping of much that we knew and held on to as sacred in the Old Testament… laws, sacrifices, curses, religious orders, our relationship with God, etc.  ALL those and so much more were antiquated and trumped with the better, when the ages transitioned.  

So if old values and systems get put on the chopping block when the age ends, what could we expect to be forfeited and replaced in this current shift change?  And what will the new values and systems look like?

Would we be able to see it?

Do we think we would have recognized and embraced the monumental shift from BC to AD?  The very best religious scholars and leaders didn’t… but strangely, a few gnarly fishermen, tax collectors and fringe guys did.  They were invited, saw, believed and became forerunners of the new age.  But most other likely candidates missed it completely… and worse yet, became an enemy to the change of the ages.  So assuming that we’re in for another shift change, what makes us think we would recognize the shift and embrace it?  Would it be because we honor and go with the flow of popular opinion… or because we hold to the ‘old time religion’ tenets… or because that’s what I was taught as a child?  Yeh, that will guarantee it, for sure (jesting).  Unfortunately, that didn’t work so well for the religious ‘scholars’ in Jesus day.  

Actually, a simple childlike heart probably has the most likely prospects of hearing, embracing and being able to adapt to the changes.  You see, a child has the least to lose and may be more sensitive to Father’s overtures of love and guidance.  And maybe that is just one of the things Jesus meant when He said, 

“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” – Matt 18:3

Are there any indicators of impending change?

In my opinion there are MANY indicators… even beyond the multitude of Biblical eschatological passages that are used so prolifically.  (Sorry to say, those passages get re-applied in a different way about every 5 to 20 years when of another epic global event occurs in the news.) One of the hugest indicators I know is something very obvious to all of us, and one which has historical precedent.  That is, the global prayer movement.  Throughout all of Biblical history, when God’s people called out to Him, He answered.  Just think about the little phrase, “And they cried to the Lord.”  What happened in the very next phrase or verse?  It was, “And God heard their cries” and sent a deliverer, judge, prophet, king, etc to extract them out of their distress.  In keeping with this truth, consider this: There are more people praying publicly and privately on the earth right now than at any other time in all of history.  And what is God’s historical response? …HIS INTERVENTION!  This is a most compelling indicator and it isn’t even an ‘end-times’ prophecy Bible verse.  This is huge!

BTW – I think God may have a different perspective on the prayer movement than we’ve had.  We thought we were going to be more self disciplined… more spiritual… help God out… and do Kingdom stuff.  But I wonder if God’s view was more on trying to get us to spend time with Him… so we would get to know His heart… so that we could hear His voice better… so we could move with Him when He makes the age shift.  Maybe the prayer movement was all about relationship versus working hard.  You see, if we were still steeped in our ‘religious’ ‘man’ strength (E.g. religious dogmas, traditions and mindsets), we wouldn’t likely be able to turn the corner with Him when we have to lay some things down.  But since we’ve prayed long enough to know that we can’t force God, we’re beginning to settle down and just let Him be Father and God.  We’re beginning to just agree with His Word and heart of love for us.  We’re beginning to realize that it really isn’t “by our works of righteousness which we have done but according to His mercy He saved us.”  Wow, now that really is Good News!  To think… all the while He just wanted to spend time with us… so we wouldn’t miss the next step of the journey. 

A great prophecy

“In 1982 in Cairo, Egypt, the Lord spoke to me about the end-time outpouring of the Spirit… The Spirit said, “I will change the understanding and expression of Christianity on earth in one generation.” – Mike Bickle (Founder of International House of Prayer – Kansas City)

I’m certain that we had no idea what was in store for us when we first heard this prophecy.  I now believe that it is exponentially larger and more impacting than we ever imagined.  Although the Word of God and the central tenets of the Gospel are unshakable, I wonder which pet peripheral sacred-cow doctrines will get sacrificed upon the altar of the emerging new expression of Christianity?  It’s inevitable, you know… it really is.  If we’re going to believe this prophecy and all other indicators, it will mean serious change for all of us.  And FYI – Historically, it’s usually traumatic for ‘settlers’ and scary exciting for the frontiersman.

Describe the current shift

The moniker over this emerging age has yet to be determined.  Will it be called the Grace Age, the Kingdom Age,  the Sonship Age, the Kingship Age, the Glory of God Age…. ?  We’ll have to wait and see.  But already there are a few overt evidences of change… and they’re obviously changes for the better.  I’ll leave you with just a few. 

Big Picture
The goodness of God is being exalted as a supreme tenet
Many ‘old time religion’ tenets are being upgraded

Our Identity
Harried ‘orphan’ Christians are becoming happy beloved sons
Always-‘do-good’ servants are becoming peace-filled bosom friends
Spiritual beggars are becoming spiritual kings
Belittling lies about our identity are being obliterated
An insecure salvation is now becoming an unshakable position in Christ
Fearful sin conscious saints are now secure in righteousness
Sin management is replaced with confident rest in Jesus’ righteousness
The Gospel is becoming the ‘unbelievably’ Good News

God’s Identity and Nature
Onerous lies about Father God are being exposed

An uncaring distant God becomes a loving committed Father
Working hard for His acceptance is being replaced with resting in His love
‘Sweat’ is now understood as the result of the curse
Rest in Jehovah Jireh’s provision is popping the anxiety bubble

Now and the Future
Traditional eschatology is being trumped by fresh revelation

Imminent doom is replaced by victorious future
Fear and hiding are replaced with courage and anticipation
Little-remnant hide-out mentality is replaced by expectant kingly ruling

Darker and darker worldview is replaced with ever increasing Kingdom
Future theologies are becoming now theologies
Heaven realities postponed til after death are being realized now
Some ‘millennial’ Kingdom theologies are being experienced now

Our Position and Prayer Posture
Desperate beggarly intercession becomes confident kingly declaration
Praying from earth toward Heaven is trumped by praying from Heaven toward earth
Emphasis shifting from praying TO God… to praying WITH God
We’re not praying FOR victory… we’re praying FROM victory

How’s that for starters?  Now list the paradigm shifts that you’re experiencing:

As Mario Bros. says, “Here we gooooo!!!!!”

— MLH

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3 Responses to “The Changing Face of Christianity”

  1. melwild August 31, 2013 at 4:37 PM #

    Good stuff, brother. Times they sure are a-changing. Good-bye, ol time religion! I love bring “shifted.” 🙂 And I think we need “scary” to live in tension of the wonder, and our Papa makes it all work by overwhelming us in His awesome love.

  2. Ben Kilen September 11, 2013 at 11:53 AM #

    Reblogged this on Kilen's Spot and commented:
    A must read from a friend of mine

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  1. Confessions of an unbelieving believer | In My Father's House - September 10, 2013

    […] “The Changing Face of Christianity” (marklhen.wordpress.com) […]

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