Church, I implore you to read this post, for we have a problem within the Western Church. There’s a reason why so many ministers are getting burned out. There’s a reason why so many Christian bookstores are closing. There’s a reason why there are so many splits and denominations. And there’s a reason why Gandhi said, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
No, it’s not because there’s Evolution being taught in our schools. It’s not because of rainbows, or Democrats, or instruments. And it’s not because of abortions (which are not the fault of atheists. According to a 2015 survey done by the Christian Research group LifeWay, 70% of women who had an abortion claimed to be a follower of Christ. . . .) One major problem that the church has, is a love problem.
Why do you think love is a major theme in John’s Gospel and letters? Why do you think Paul told us what love is, that “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast . . .” (1 Corinthians 13:4-13)? And why do you think Jesus said, “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” (John 13:34-35)? It’s because love is crucial for the Christian faith. For God is love; therefore, if we are to be His people, we must be a people of love.
However, that doesn’t mean that everyone’s right, that there’s multiple truths, that everyone should just do what makes them happy. Look at Jesus. He was always loving, yet he also flipped tables and called out the hypocrisy of religious leaders. No, we don’t have to agree with Muslims, or Buddhists, or Lesbians, but we should still respect them and love them. If I showed up at your mom’s funeral with a picket sign that read, “Gays go to Hell,” would you want to worship with me that following Sunday?
Samely, apologetics and linning out our doctrines will not save the Western Church. There is a time and there is a place for them, but did Jesus say, “Debate with your enemy until he agrees with you”? or to “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” (Matthew 5:44)? Furthermore, gays, atheists, and Democrats are not our enemies. For the real Enemy has tricked us into believing so, letting the church do his work for him. Because we have ignored Ephesians 6:12, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places,” we have allowed the Enemy to pit minister against youth minister, Baptist against Methodist, Church of Christ against everyone.
Church, we have fallen into the same trap as the Jews; we have allowed our culture to shape us, instead of us shaping it. And I pray it does not take a Babylon to put us back on track.
We have been so worried about fighting for our rights, our congregational numbers, and being right, that the majority of the church has forgotten what being a Christian is all about: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27). No, the church will never be perfect until our Lord returns, but that gives us no excuse to shout at a Christian bookstore employee for not having the Bible translation that you wanted. Sadly, and coming from an ex-fast food employee, Christians in many places are known for having the stigma of being one of the rudest crowds.
Church, we live in a consumer culture, but that does not give us the right to be a consumerist. Didn’t Daniel and his friends demonstrate for us that even if you have everything taken from you–your family, your friends, your home, your country, even your name–that you can still keep your character (Daniel 1)? Which means we need to quit treating congregations as we do fast food–hopping to another because the worship doesn’t sound the way we like it, or because they have communion at the end of the service, or because they don’t buy the brand of coffee that we prefer. Church, we need to not only change our hearts, but our attitudes. This world owes us nothing. God owes us nothing–not even salvation. It is a gift. A gift that can be easily forgotten the longer we’re involved in the church.
Therefore church, my plea is this:
Let us be a people who listen to God’s voice, rather than following the voices of commercials. Let us be a people who are more worried about serving than being served. And let us be a people who care more about loving, than being right.
Church, if we acted in this way . . . who knows what would happen?