The Lost Element of Desperation

by William F. Harrell

Since becoming a pastor twenty-eight years ago, I have watched some subtle shifts take place within the context of Christianity which I think are very dangerous to who we are and what we do. In fact, in the last ten years, the decade of the 90's, the shift has been monumental. Some of the things which have come to be accepted during this past decade are things which I would never have thought any conservative body would adhere to. If one had told me ten years ago that the "seeker-sensitive" approach would have influenced how we express our faith in the Lord and how we practice our worship to the degree that it has, I would have said that person was crazy. In addition, the whole approach to church and worship has become centered on how to make things easy for people to be saved. No matter how hard man may try, he cannot make being saved "easy," but yet that is what attracts this society in which we live. Make it easy, make it quick. Take away the commitment and dedication which is required. Don't ask people to take a strong stand for anything. Don't ask them to do anything publicly since that might embarrass them. Bring the world into the church and deify it if you can. Make the world's agenda God's agenda and everything will fit just fine. There is only one thing wrong: In the finality of it all, it won't work. Got sets the agenda, not man, and God says that several things are necessary. First the Holy Spirit must come, convicting and convincing. Then, He must draw a person to Jesus Christ. Following that, repentance must be made and then the person must abandon himself and commit his life to Jesus Christ, in order to be able to serve Him on the earth and go to heaven when he dies. The new philosophy is: "accept" Jesus; add Him to your life's agenda, and He will make things better. The main thing which is being overlooked in the process today is the element of desperation. Man is no longer afraid of the consequences of a sinful life. He no longer sees himself as dangling over hell on a spider web and that Jesus is the only person who can do anything about his desperate situation. This whole process is something which must be handled with holy hands and it must not be redesigned to fit into the current trend which has been adopted by many churches today. The big thing today is the number of people attending. Everyone seems possessed with having the biggest crowd. Having a large crowd is fine if the right motivations precipitate the crowd. But, cheapening the process of salvation in order not to "offend" people, and thereby attracting them to your church, is not the process we need to follow. The Bible clearly says that the gospel is an "offense" to the world, and it will always remain so. What we do in our worship must, in some degree, mirror the gravity of what took place on the cross when Christ died for us. He knew something which man wants to forget and that is this: Man is in a desperate situation! That was true then and it is true today. We must again focus on the missing element of desperation if people are going to truly know the freedom and release of being saved.