“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.” – Proverbs 19:21
What a simple and empowering nugget of truth we have in this verse. We humans make lots of plans of various types. From those plans, systems proceed and we find something which works for us. These plans and systems serve our purposes, provide results which benefit us and offer us the opportunities to give expression to our desires and abilities. Systems surround us in every facet of life – social systems, economic systems, philosophical systems, educational systems and, of course, religious systems. I have learned to live with all of these…except that last one. Religious systems hold no appeal to me because, though human plans are manifold, the Proverb above declares unapologetically that it will only be the Lord’s purpose which remains in the end.
So, fellow Jesus-followers, what is your religious system? You might call yourself Catholic or Protestant. Among the Protestants you may declare allegiance to the Baptist system – it worked for your parents and grandparents, why not you? Perhaps your loyalty to the doctrines of grace allow you to rest comfortably in the Presbyterian system. Is unfettered worship and participation in the gifts of the Spirit your main focus? Then the Charismatic system might be where your allegiance falls. I have come across scores of young men with astute theological minds and a hearty appetite for God’s Word – they gather in Starbucks all across the land to advance the Young, Restless & Reformed system. There is the King-James-Only system which, in my experience with its zealous adherents, speak at least twice as much as King James than they do King Jesus. Those who wish to be inclusive and tolerant of the various nuances of human sexuality might find a home in Episcopal system. Do you hate cigarettes, facial hair, restaurants that serve liquor, and the audacious notion that it is appropriate for women to wear pants instead of dresses? There is great news because the Fundamentalist system is waiting for you to join!
Forgive the edge to my words today, but systems are the ruin of influence for the unalloyed advance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
We do not need a system. The Scriptures do not affirm any particular system of religion. The Gospel conveys the nature, the heart, the mission and the supremacy of Jesus Christ, as carried out by the power of the Holy Spirit in accordance with the Word of God. Each and every Christianized system hijacks one or more points of truth found in the bible, and then inflates that truth to the point of obscuring the actual, comprehensive message of God. All systems and movements are sourced in human plans, human wisdom, human weakness and human shortsightedness. Again, “Many are the plans in the mind of a man…” Systems and movements find their origin in human power and that is also where they die. Every single system, movement and denomination located under the banner of Christendom is a short-sale on the full message and mission of Jesus Christ. I will be bold here: these systems and movements are tailored for lazy people who will not think through their faith. Another Proverb reads, “The sluggard buries his hand in the dish; it wears him out to bring it back to his mouth” (26:15). I might extract that principle and repackage it as, “The system-lover buries his mind in his religious preferences and it wears him out to test it against the teaching in his bible.”
I am praying for an end to these vacuous systems and movements, and I am continuing my stepping out to call anyone who might listen to commit to an action of reformation in our generation. Do not be afraid to declare that you are sick of the nonsense. Do not be intimidated to protest those who protect a broken wheel while they continue to spin it round and round with all of their might, and demand that others join the religious spin cycle. Let’s close down the museums of religious systems, fire the curators and replant some lush gardens of intimacy with the Father where those insufficient museums once stood on top of cracked and mildewed cement. I might ask you to forgive me for being so stirred… but I do not actually need nor beg your pardon because what I am saying is pregnant with validity. Let the system-keepers apologize. Let the religious comptrollers take off their hats, lower the heads and humbly seek forgiveness. My children and future grandchildren deserve to be handed a healthy, empowered, unchained presentation of Jesus Christ, His church and our mission. Let’s wipe off all the smudgy fingerprints and love God and others enough to say, “We repent. We have taken the boundless grace and immeasurable majesty of Jesus Christ and placed it into a 2X2 acrylic cube of religion. Smash the cube let the Gospel reign. We know that Jesus said that the Truth will set us free (John 8:32)…
…but the Truth will set nobody in a generation free if we don’t set the Truth free from faulty systems.
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