Folk Religion

The church suffers from many attacks.

This is a present reality that will undoubtedly exist until Christ returns.

The attacks, however, that seem to get the most attention oftentimes are the attacks that the church should come to expect. For instance, Jesus prepared his followers that in this world, they would have trouble (John 16:33). He quipped to the disciples that the world might hate them because of Him (John 15:18). He assured them, to be aware that just as He was persecuted, so they would be persecuted (John 15:20).

The common denominator with the aforementioned words from Jesus is that they were reflective of the outward (worldly) attacks the church would face. Today, what I would like to pinpoint is an attack on the church that comes from within.

It’s the attack of folk religion.

Folk religion is a way of living that is governed by subjective experiences and cliche sayings. It’s when we move doctrine, creeds, and Scripture to the back burner and put the totality of what we believe and how we live on how we feel, what we’ve experienced, and shallow cliche sayings.

What this means is that we no longer are operating in the faith delivered to us (Jude 3), but in a way of living that can easily fit into culture and one satan is quite alright with.

This is an attack within the church because it promotes, not the Way of Christ, but the way of self. In the realm of folk religion, self is center. Feelings trump truth. Experiences overtake belief. 

The freedom of the Way of Jesus is that we are free to know certain things, no matter what comes our way. For instance, if our lives are built off of the life of Jesus Christ we can hold and cling to truths in the midst of sufferings, sorrow, and loss. If our lives are built off the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we need not fear death, no matter how painful it might be.

Cliche sayings are about as healthy for us as a Big Mac from McDonalds. God’s word is like honey to our lips, a healing balm to our souls. 

Yes, the church will always find herself under assault from the outside. What the church shouldn’t find herself in is folk religion where we are tossed to and fro by human crafitness (Eph. 4:14). We have doctrine. We have creeds. We have Scripture. 

We need to know these. We need to memorize these. We need to hide these words in our hearts. 

An onslaught of hell is always beckoning at our door from the outside. Our response need not be the rogue waves of our emotions nor the wisdom of the world. No, we need the truth of heaven, the creeds of the Church. We need the ancient paths that lead to life everlasting.

Luke is Pastor of Discipleship to the community of saints, in Christ, at Nashville UMC.

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