There is a lot of conversation about Christianity that could be labeled, “Main Street Theology” meaning it is not related to anything Jesus ever taught or practiced. The following are some of the dogmas of this “Main Street Theology.”
A public relations expert said, I am a religious man. One thing I believe is that all religions are good. We are all trying to get to the same place and that is the main thing. Such a statement is completely foreign to what Jesus taught. In fact, He said, “I am THE way.”
Sitting around the table at a service club meeting, the moralist says, You just can’t beat the golden rule. Live by that and you’ll be alright. This is the best summary of Christianity there is. Jesus said in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life,” summarizes the Christian faith.
A grieving spouse who has just returned from the cemetery tells her friend, He was such a good-hearted person. If anyone gets to heaven, he will. Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”
The Sunday morning golfer justifies his absence from worship by saying, “I feel much closer to God on this beautiful golf course than I would sitting in church listening to a boring sermon.” Christ was at worship each Sabbath day.
The emotional athlete tells the press, God was with us and guided us all the way. He gave us the victory. Wasn’t God with the team that lost? This is Main Street Theology. If these statements were not so pathetic, they would be humorous.
It is evident that those people who have made the above statement have little knowledge of the Bible, but listen carefully and we detect some of this Main Street Theology in the thinking of the faithful. These people should know better if they have caught the spirit of God’s Word. Here is the other side of Main Street Theology.
A woman is asked, Are you still in the bridge club? She replies, “Oh, no! Since we became Christians, we haven’t had much to do with our old friends. It seems that we have little in common with them anymore.”
Here’s another one. The committee at the church is discussing Becky, who has asked to be a Sunday school teacher for small children. Here’s the conversation, “Why don’t we give Becky a few years and see if she is really sincere about Christ. You know her past life was not too good. She has little church background, and it is questionable how spiritually mature she is.”
“Wow!”, the preacher of the Gospel says. “How did I do such a poor job in communicating the basic truths of God’s Word to the people serving on this committee?”
Well, let’s look at some of the Main Street Theology in Jesus’ day. Our Lord was teaching a large crowd beside the Sea of Galilee. As the meeting concluded, Jesus walked by the tax collector’s booth. There sat Levi, the tax collector. “Follow me,” Jesus said. David McKenna, a biblical scholar, writing on Jesus calling Levi says, “If the Galileans had a contest to choose the most hated man in town, Levi would have won hands down.” Levi had acquired a fortune while selling his soul. He stole from the people. No one except his fellow tax collectors would have anything to do with Levi, but this didn’t matter to Levi because he was becoming a wealthy person.
Why would Jesus call a person like Levi to be an apostle? McKenna answers by saying, “Jesus specializes in rejects. He saw the great potential for spiritual growth in Levi.” Jesus teaches us the great lesson never to sell anyone short. Always remember what Jesus can make out of a person.
All of us who have seen Him at work in our own lives would bear testimony to the truth of His power to change a person. We might not be what we should be but think of what we would be if Christ had not made drastic changes in our lives. There once was a brilliant lawyer with a powerful job in the Nixon administration whose life was changed by Jesus Christ. His name is Charles Colson, founder and head of Prison Ministries. Chuck spent time in prison for the crimes he committed as a part of the Watergate scandal. During that time there were those friends who believed that Christ could change Colson and he could become a powerful servant of Jesus Christ. People like Tom Philips, President of Raytheon, and Al Qui, Governor of Minnesota and a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, introduced Charles Colson to Jesus Christ and the Lord did the rest. Chuck was the Levi of his day. Had you asked who were ten of the most hated men in America when the news of Watergate was breaking, Colson would have been one of them. But Jesus said, Chuck, follow me. He did, and from that time on, through his ministry to prisoners and thousands of others, this man, by word of mouth and a gifted pen, has told the world about Christ. If you are not acquainted with what the Lord has done for this man, read one of his books, especially Born Again.
Levi walked away from the tax tables never to return. He had seen its emptiness. The Pharisees thought that a person had to prove himself before the Lord could use him. That was Main Street Theology and never got the endorsement of Jesus Christ.
Before leaving the area, Levi had some of his friends, tax collectors and sinners, in for dinner, and he invited Jesus to join them. Seeing this the Pharisees asked Jesus’ disciples, “Why does He eat with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus heard their question and answered the question, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick? I have not come to call the righteous but sinners.”
Evangelical theology is anxious to reach out to the lost. Phariseeism, which is a part of Main Street Theology, whether in Jesus’ day or ours, looks at a lost world and walks away convinced that these people are “not our kind of folks.”
What a picture Jesus gives us regarding our relationship with friends and relatives who do not know him. Many of us have a tendency to isolate ourselves from the old world and its sinfulness. I do. Let me tell you about an evening at the country club. It was at Christmas time and I had been invited to address a group of men on the “Real Meaning of Christmas.” I made my message as simple and direct as possible telling them that Jesus is God and the Savior of the world. He alone is able to bring us into a personal relationship with God.
When the meeting was over, all the men left save one who asked if I would join him at the bar for a drink. He wanted to discuss this matter of salvation in greater depth. I accepted his invitation and went to the bar with him. As we sat there visiting about his relationship with God, it dawned on me, What if someone saw me sitting there drinking with the man. I was sipping on some 7Up, but from a distance they would never know what I was drinking. I became uncomfortable as I succumbed to the dogma of Main Street Theology.
Most people who have little interest and no relationship with Christ will not seek out the Church to visit about their spiritual life. We have to go to them. It is when we reach out with the message of God’s grace and see how marvelously God works in their lives that our Christianity becomes exciting. So why not leave a routine type of Christianity that borders on Main Street theology and walk among those who do not know Jesus. Share with them the blessed hope that fills your life. Let God give you a sensitive ear to the dogmas of Main Street Theology and the power to run from them.