'The Truth Hurts'; so the saying goes!
With the rabid influx of 'feel-goodism' in the American church ove the past century ( give or take ), is it really any surprise ( 'Shocked, shocked, I tell you!' ) that many or most American Christians would rather stay in their comfortable four-walled, steepled prisons, and slumber in the pews, than stand and challenge what they've been fed for ages, and to take pains to discover the Truth?! If you dare to question, for instance, the authority of the historical creeds in some Reformed congregations, you may be ostracized, asked to leave, or at the very least, be in danger of church discipline! In certain evangelical congregations, you might receive much the same treatment, except for the church discipline, and laughed to scorn on top of it! Why would they act like this; what are they afraid of?
First of all, many of us ARE very comfortable just warming pews, listening to the preacher drone on and on, whether spouting some marshmallowy goodness, or whether it's some halfway meaningful, though often errant drivel! Too many Christians are there, mostly for the social aspect of 'keeping up with the Joneses', but also for the warm feelings that this marshmallowy goodness engenders! Too many of the preachers are just there for the money! Sure, there are those that, even though they are over-paid waistcoats, might actually be worth listening to ( though you probably shouldn't do what they do )! The Scriptures do say that we should share our material wealth with those who share spiritual wealth and knowledge with us, but seriously, how many vehicles does a pastor with two children, maybe three, and a wife need? Does he really need all those fine expensive clothes and that big fine house on a hill? How about the boat and those skidoos? Don't get me wrong; I'm not saying that a Christian shouldn't be rich in material wealth, and have all those things, but too often they have all those things because they are unwilling to stand up and say, 'this is wrong, that is right'! The favored 501(c)3 status seems to help as well, making certain that the pastor and his congregation enjoy certain scraps from the table, while losing the ability to stand on their own two feet!
Christians like this often receive the truth of the glorious reality of true freedom in Christ like a slap in the face! For whatever reason, many Christians, when faced with the harsh reality that they may have been wrong about any number of things concerning the Kingdom of Heaven and of God will react in any number of ways, but for the most part will just stand there, blinking their eyes as if they've just had their blinders removed and beg you to put them back ( 'put the prison bars back' )!
We can't just pick on those certain Christians, because it really is just human nature! We all, I believe, to a greater or lesser degree, love our comforts, whether theologically, spiritually, or physically speaking. If something makes us uncomfortable, we most often will try to find any excuse not to do it! Some have overcome this innate desire for comfort ( at any cost? ), and challenging both their 'druthers and the status quo, have ventured where angels fear to tread!
Tradition is hard to overcome! This is not to say that just because a doctrine is traditional, it should be challenged or is questionable, though that is often the case. Just because any certain doctrine is traditional, and has been practiced, to whatever extent, for almost 2,000 years of Church History, does not mean that it is right, or reveals Truth about Who God is and how He operates throughout History!
Most often, paradigm shifts hit us like a slap in the face, especially when we have fervently held to our pet doctrines all lives, and sometimes they hit with the intensity of a major seismic event! We all like comfort, and some of us even like marshmallows with our wine, but how many of us are willing to accept the Truth of God's Kingdom, though it may mean the loss of our comfortable and easy lives, when we can keep our comfortable, feel-good positions, even though we might have to tell a few white lies to keep them?
When the disciples, as recorded in Matthew 19:23-26, asked Jesus 'how then can a rich man be saved?', He told them that 'with men this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible'. All it takes is a change of heart, and the rest will follow!
Charles Haddon Shank