Revelation, not religion
Published 9:16 pm Saturday, July 7, 2012
Pastor pens book calling for shakeup in the church
A Suffolk pastor has written a book urging Christians to do away with religion.
“We like to believe that we are a city on a hill,” said Chris Surber, pastor of Cypress Chapel Christian Church and a columnist for the Suffolk News-Herald. “We really pat ourselves on the back for all the good we’ve done in Jesus’ name and promotion of the kingdom of God.”
The problem, Surber says, is that too many Christians adhere to empty religion and legalism, rather than actually seeking God and having a relationship with Him.
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The title of his book, “Gomorrah was Religious Too,” is a tip of the hat to the late evangelist Leonard Ravenhill, who wrote a book titled “Sodom Had No Bible.”
When he first read Ravenhill’s book, Surber said, “It felt like reading something I would have written. The crux of his writing was just about seeking real revival at the heart-change level in the church. That is at the center of my ministry philosophy.”
Sodom and Gomorrah were biblical cities that were destroyed by God for their collective sins.
Surber was inspired to write the book, because, he said, he sees more empty religion and legalism the longer he’s in the ministry.
“There’s a new kind of religious spirit that has come up at least in the last 20-25 years,” he said, referring to legalism.
Another problem, particularly in older churches, is people who attend for the sake of tradition.
“People act like the primary mission of the church is to maintain the institution,” he said. “Religion is all about just maintaining the institution.”
More important, he says, is becoming an individual Christian and a church that has life, that makes God known in the world, that ministers to people instead of carrying picket signs.
“We’ve got a people who have lost sight of what it means to be a kingdom citizen,” he said. “Making the revelation of God known in the world should be your primary concern.”
Surber said rather than being putting down roots in one location and saying “This is our institution,” the church should be more “like a tree that can get up and walk.”
“We become so much like an oak tree whose roots run so deep, that we forget the kingdom is a movement,” he said.
Lastly, Surber said, the church needs a visible, radical transformation.
“When addicts are no longer addicts, when idolators cast away their idols, when greedy people are willing to become sacrificial — that’s the kingdom happening,” he said.
The book is available at the Suffolk Christian Bookstore, 900 N. Main St.; on Surber’s website, www.chrissurber.com; on the publisher’s website, www.energionpubs.com; or on Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble online (www.bn.com).