6. That Utilitarian Christ
Our Lord forewarned us that false Christ's should come. Mostly we think of these as coming from the outside, but we should remember that they may also arise within the sanctuary itself. We must be extremely careful that the Christ we profess to follow is indeed the very Christ of God. There is always danger that we may be following a Christ who is not the true Christ but one conjured up by our imagination and made in our own image.
I confess to a feeling of uneasiness about this when I observe the questionable things Christ is said to do for people these days. He is often recommended as a wonderfully obliging but not too discriminating Big Brother who delights to help us to accomplish our ends, and who further favors us by refraining from to ask any embarrassing questions about the moral and spiritual qualities of those ends.
In our eagerness to lead men to "accept Christ" we are often tempted to present for acceptance a Christ who is little more than a caricature of "that holy thing" which was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, to be crucified and rise the third day to take His place on the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens. Within the past few years, for instance, Christ has been popularized by some so-called evangelicals as one who, if a proper amount of prayer were made, would help the pious prize fighter to knock another fighter unconscious in the ring. Christ is also said to help the big league pitcher to get the proper hook on his curve. In another instance He assists an athletically - minded parson to win the high jump, and still another not only to come in first in a track meet but to set a new record in the bargain. He is said also to have helped a praying businessman to beat out a competitor in a deal, to underbid a rival and to secure a coveted contract to the discomfiture of someone else who was trying to get it. He is even thought to lend succor to a praying movie actress while she plays a role so lewd as to bring the blood to the face of a professional prostitute.
Thus our Lord becomes the Christ of utility, a kind of Aladdin's lamp to do minor miracles in behalf of anyone who summons Him to do his bidding.
Apparently no one stops to consider that if Christ were to step into a prize ring and use His divine power to help one prize fighter to paralyze another He would be puffing one fighter at a cruel disadvantage and violating every common instinct of fair play. If He were to aid one businessman to the detriment of another He would be practicing favoritism and revealing a character wholly unlike the Bible picture of the real Christ Furthermore, we would have the grotesque situation of the Lord of glory coming to the aid of an unreconstructed Adam - on Adam's terms.
All this is too horrible to contemplate, and I hope that the proponents of this modern accommodating Christ do not see the implications that lie in their shoddy doctrine. But perhaps they do see, and are willing nevertheless to offer this utilitarian Christ as the Saviour of mankind. If so, then they no longer believe in the deity nor the lordship of Christ in any proper definition of those words. Theirs is a Christ of carnal convenience, not too far removed from the gods of paganism.
The whole purpose of God in redemption is to make us holy and to restore us to the image of God. To accomplish this He disengages us from earthly ambitions and draws us away from the cheap and unworthy prizes that worldly men set their hearts upon. A holy man would not dream of asking God to help him beat an opponent or win over a competitor. He would not wish to succeed if to do so another man must fail. No man in whom the Spirit dwells could bring himself to ask the Lord to help him knock another man unconscious for filthy lucre or the plaudits of the vulgar spectators.
A Joshua fighting the battles of the Lord, a David rescuing God's Israel from the Philistines, a Washington seeking God's help against the enemy that would enslave the young America - this is up on a high level of moral and spiritual principle and in line with the purpose of God in human history. But to teach that Christ will use His sacred power to further our worldly interests is to wrong our Lord and injure our own souls.
We modern evangelicals need to learn the truths of the sovereignty of God and the lordship of Christ. God will not play along with Adam; Christ will not he used by any of Adam's selfish brood. We had better learn these things fast if this generation of young Christians is to be spared the supreme tragedy of following a Christ who is merely a Christ of convenience and not the true Lord of glory after all.
From The Root of the Righteous by A. W. Tozer. Lightly updated to the language of the 21st century by D. N. Pham. (c) 2012.
Insights of the past for the present
Root of the Righteous - A.W. Tozer
ON THE BOOK SHELF
May your insights be worthy.