One of my favorite hymns is the song, "This Shall Be My Dancing Day." It's a carol that describes the life of Christ as one where Christ looks forward the eternity as His time of celebration. We too look forward the eternity as our celebration with Him, but we also seek the celebration of His victory here in our daily striving against ideas and practices that set themselves up against the Lord of All the Earth. It is not only that Christ should have victory over us tomorrow, but also in what we think and do today. In turn, this becomes a joy for us. It becomes a glimpse of our eternal dancing day.
I spoke last time about the fact that television/movies sets the pace for what we consider a normative lifestyle. It feeds the culture, and in reciprocal fashion, the culture then feeds the minds of the writers as to what is normative. This is all assumed, of course, and what I said last time is that the root worldview in practice, although varied in theory, is that God does not exist as a necessity within our daily lives. He's brought in for tragedies, but other than that, His absence is everywhere. In other words, the people and stories through whom/which we vicariously live each day, for thousands upon thousands of hours in our lives, are atheistic ones. Hence, even if our theories are theistic, our practices, our assumptions, or normality tend to mimic what is on the screen.
Hence, when we subconsciously adopt this worldview as normative, we also end up with a lot of practices that stem from that worldview. Christians, in particular, find themselves wondering why it is that so many other Christians say they believe one thing, but end up doing so many things that are completely contradictory toward what they believe. Indeed, we're all sinners, so we will all be hypocrites in that sense. But there is something else, something more sinister, at work here, and that is the fact that we have a contradictory worldview playing in the background, training us to think about certain things and not others, to act out certain lifestyles and not others.
This brings us to the role of the Church in the believer's life. The Church is actually given by God to train the mind of the believer to think of God's reality as normative (and God's reality is actual reality). The Church, when it functions properly, combats the pattern of the world that sets the varied, and yet unified, religion of the Self as the norm; and lifts the believer up from the flood of a false reality to live in the light of God's norm. We are told that it does this by its teachers preaching the whole counsel of God to the Church's people, and in obedience, those who receive the Word take it in a prayerful and submissive relationship to God, where the Holy Spirit applies it to their daily minds and practices. It thus becomes the norm.
In other words, the Scripture is the believer's television/movies. It presents the norm to the Christian culture, the Christians then reflect that norm in reciprocal fashion, and increase the effects of the Christ-centered worldview. Thus, the religion of the Self is slain, and the religion of the Lord is victorious in the Christians life.
The problem is that churches have not been preaching the whole counsel of God to its members. Evangelicalism, specifically, has continued to water down harsher doctrines, so as not to offend, and to reduce the amount of truth that unifies us as believers, so as to not divide our numbers, that it is virtually impossible to combat a full-on, daily onslaught of another religion with a couple undeveloped and superficial ideas repeated over and over again.
Hence, this atmosphere creates two problems. The first is what I said above. The Church has no power to transform a life if its whole counsel is not proclaimed and its members do not live in a loving relationship toward God in their seeking to live in His reality. The second is that it creates the idea that the reduced and watered down doctrines that are preached over and over again are, in fact, what is normative Christianity, and anything that pushes beyond that is abnormal, legalistic, radical, etc.
Hence, the state of the evangelical church today is not in the position to transform anyone. The culture of the religion of the Self has won, and there is nothing to stop it. Assimilation is complete. You are officially a part of the collective. Welcome to the damned life of the Borg.
Hence, if you're wondering why you've become a Christian, but don't feel very transformed, it could be just the plight of us all as sinners who need to make our way toward the truth of God and the good that it produces in us; but it may also be that you aren't getting very much truth, and a lot more lie, in what is demonstrated to you as the normative lifestyle. It may be that you don't have the mindset of a Christian because you haven't been given the teachings that create that mindset; and this, in turn, has done the same for those around you, so that you don't have anyone else modeling the Christian norm to you either.
This is why, when I speak of the judgment that the Western Church is under, that I think the Church needs reformation once again. I know the motto is "always reforming," and so every generation needs it, but I don't see such an all-encompassing deception in ecclesiastical history as I do now without it ending in reformation or the end of that church in that area. The creation has been exalted as Creator in Darwinian evolution, and Christians believe it; sexual immorality is now normative in our culture, and Christians agree with it; absolute certainty in truth fades to grey, and everyone does that which is right in his own eyes. Thus were the days of Noah when the end had come. But so were the days of the Judges, the days of Elijah, the days of Christ, the days of Athanasius, the days of Luther and Calvin. This may be our end, or it may be the end of a perverse norm that is caused by another great reformation. Who can say? But what we have now is a victory for the other side. Those who may have lived a Christian lifestyle as normative now turn from Christianity merely because it isn't the norm within their world anymore. And this is occurring en masse, not because we're not connecting with the culture enough, but because we have become, and aided the normative lifestyle of, the culture. But they went out to show that they were never really of us. The problem is that we who are left must commit ourselves to letting God set the norm through His Word in our words and deeds, thoughts and lifestyles.
Will it be a time to mourn, or shall this be our glimpse of His dancing day? Only God knows, and only time will tell us what He knows. May He grant reformation, and not condemnation, in grace and mercy upon His people.