How did we get here?

July 12, 2010 at 8:31 pm | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment
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Have you ever had a moment to stop and look at your life? Have you ever stopped, examined your life and where you are, and wondered: How did I get here? I’ve done that a few times and it’s always been eye-opening. I never seem to have been where I thought I was. Sometimes I was further along than I thought and other times I wasn’t as far along as I expected. As I looked back on the path that I trod to get where I was, when I began studying where I walked, I could easily see the things that had gotten me off track. Things like disobedience, willful blindness, and sin led me off of the narrow path and out into the weeds. Because of my lack of diligence or awareness I had to work harder to get back on the path. I had to push through painful thorns and cut through the vines of worldliness that were trying to hold me down and choke me out. Through God’s grace alone, I am here. I’m cut up, bruised, and worn out, but I’m here. As I was pondering these things, I couldn’t help but wonder if the body of Christ has ever done this. I can think of one time when I would say this happened, but other than that, I don’t think that something like this has ever taken place. I wonder why? Does the church not see where it is? Do they not care where they are going? Or are they afraid of what they’ll find? Regardless of the reason, I think that the church would benefit from taking a little time to look at where it is in the face of the state of the world.If you were to take the time to look at the history of the church over the past 100 years alone, you would have no trouble finding places where the narrow path has been left for “greener pastures”. You can look back and see a trail of high grass that has been trampled in the mad rush to be a part of the newest fad and the latest craze (and we still seem to be about 10 years behind). It is really amazing that we can even see the path anymore, to be totally honest. Living in the South, I have learned something about the tall grass: it hides things – like snakes. But, the question still hangs in the air: How did we get to where we are? To answer the question properly, it is important to understand where we are first.
 
If we take a quick survey of the things going on in the body of Christ, just in America, we would rapidly find that there are numerous things wrong. I will readily admit that these things may just be what I see. It may be that there are a ton of people who enjoy being in the tall grass. They don’t see anything wrong with being off the path or chasing fads. That is part of the problem. The body of Christ seems to have forgotten that it is just the body and not the head too. The body is to take directions from the head and respond in obedience. If your body were to completely disregard everything your brain told it to do there would be serious trouble. No one seems to see this with regard to the church though. I don’t get that at all. Everyone is talking about how “God told” them to do this or that, and not one of those things can be supported by scripture rightly divided. So, where are we? Well, let’s take a look. About 100 years ago, those who were leading churches somehow came to the conclusion that the gospel wasn’t working in America. Forget the fact that scripture says that it is the gospel that is the power of God to salvation (Romans 1:16). They saw the preaching of the law, of hell, of sin, and of judgment to be detrimental to getting people to come into the church to hear about Jesus. So they changed the gospel. They began to replace it with a myriad of things. The gospel became a message of life enhancement – “Come to Jesus and you’ll know joy, peace, love, and happiness”. It became a message of prosperity – “God wants you to be blessed and have money, health, cars, houses, planes, and other material things because you are His child and He loves you”. It became a message of ‘social justice’ – “Jesus helped the poor, fed the hungry, and healed the hurting; and so, if we are to be saved, we are to do these things too”. It even became a message of universalism – “It really doesn’t matter what you call ‘God’, if you call Him/Her/It anything, as long as you’re sincere in your belief and you do good things, we’ll all go to heaven”. None of this is the gospel, but it is what is being preached…
 
The church has not only abandoned the gospel, it has abandoned much of the rest of scripture as well. The only scriptures that matter anymore are those that can be taken out of context in order to support another “vision” that God has supposedly given a false prophet or false teacher in order to make more money or increase the number of people going to a given church. Scripture has been trampled under the feet of the very people it has been entrusted to. I plan on getting into this more indepth in another blog but all you really need to do is look at the body itself. The idea that the church is for saints who have repented of their sins and have a desire to serve Christ is now history. Instead, churches are “reaching out” to the non-believers and inviting them in to a place that they really don’t have any business being. While I completely understand that it is possible that someone can get saved by sitting in church (it happened to me!), that’s not the purpose of the church. The church should be a place where the flock meets to get fed on the milk and meat of God (1 Peter 2:2/1 Cor. 3:2). It is where they exalt Him for who He is and rejoice in His sovereignty and grace. It should be a place where Christians are trained to battle sin and the worldly culture so that when they go out into the world, they can stand and fight; they can preach the gospel and see people saved. That’s not what it is though. “Pastors” speak about things that have nothing to do with scripture and try to twist and mold scripture to fit. They spend more time telling jokes, stories, and anecdotes than they do teaching the flock how to apply scripture to their lives. Then there are entire denominations that have embraced homosexuality as ok. They have ordained openly gay bishops to lead their congregations. These men (and women!) are living in open sin but the church does nothing. The church no longer disciplines those who need it. After watching all of the debacles that have taken place over the last 10 years I can’t help but wonder what someone would have to do to get kicked out of a church nowadays.
 
It doesn’t stop there. Image is now everything. What you appear to be means more than what you really are. Again, scripture is tossed to the wayside in the name of religion. Christians gossip about their brothers and sisters. They form circles and cliques and keep others out. Love for one another means nothing. Promises are made and broken in the blink of an eye to “get things done”. Fellowship has lost its purpose in the face of gathering to hear the juiciest aforementioned gossip. Long friendships are abandoned for those that are more beneficial in advancing “ministry” or building a facade. Instant gratification is the norm in the church. The art of scriptural study and perseverance in the Word have been replaced with high energy “worship” and canned “sermons”. The children fare no better. At ages when they are absorbing the most information and could be learning foundational truth, they are being patronized by well-meaning (ok…I’m assuming they really are well-meaning) teachers who tell them a quaint little story, give them a healthy snack, and then play a game. If they’re really good, they can get hyped up on candy before being handed back to their parents. The trend only gets better as they grow up too. They know all the Sunday School answers, but when it comes to understanding how their faith conflicts with what they’re learning in school, they have nothing. When they come to their parents or “spiritual leaders” for answers to those questions and get silence in response, the only conclusion they can come to is that the atheism/secular humanism they’re being taught at school is right (so much for separation of church and state huh?). By middle school, 40% of church kids have already decided that church is not important. By high school, it jumps to 80%. Few high school kids can defend their faith against the attacks they get from friends, hostile teachers, and the world at large. Why? Is it that hard? Nope. I know for a fact that it’s not because I’ve done it. So why isn’t it happening? The high school kids can’t do it, because the adults can’t either. If a pop quiz were given to church-going adults, I wonder how many would pass? Church history is lost. Abortion and homosexuality are not only ok, they are encouraged. Sexual immorality runs rampant in the church. Adultery, pornography, and fornication are all problems in the church. The family has disintegrated. Single parents are struggling. Divorce is just as common within the church as without.
 
While this may seem like I’m piling on the church, it should be known that most of this is from personal experience. Out of all of the things that I’ve listed, only a few are from things that I’ve read. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that things are even worse than what I’ve revealed. Why? Because the body of Christ is sick. The standard for life and holiness has been cast aside. For those of you that are still reading, please understand something. I don’t say this out of anything but the deepest concern. I don’t enjoy what I see in the church, nor do I find any kind of satisfaction in calling these things out. It grieves me to no end to see the church like this. It does make me mad in some ways for a very simple reason. The body of Christ is the only hope that the world has to be saved from the wrath of God. The world needs the church to be what it is supposed to be. Not only that, the saints need the church to be what it’s supposed to be. There are a number of Christians who have been hurt by brothers and sisters (I really want to put that in quotes….) or pastors that it’s not even funny. Many of them are malnourished, unable to be fed by their SHEPHERD because he’s too busy chasing worldly pipe dreams. There is a distrust among many that impedes, if not completely hinders, the unity that the body is supposed to have.

The sad thing is that most of the people that I’ve talked to don’t ask for much. All they want are a few simple things. First, if you’re a pastor, PREACH THE TRUE GOSPEL. Don’t water it down, don’t try to cater to the non-Christians, don’t replace it with something that you think is better. Just preach the true gospel plainly; line by line and precept by precept. FEED YOUR SHEEP! Second, let’s be honest. No, really. Let’s be honest – with ourselves, with each other, and with God. Let’s honestly look at the scriptures and see how our lives, our families, and our churches line up with what scripture says. We are to love one another because God told us to. We are to love each other because that is the main way that others who are not saved recognize us as Christians (John 13:35/Romans 12:10/Romans 13:8/Galatians 5:13/1 John 4:7). Stop the bickering, backbiting, and positioning. Forget the power trip or the facade. If you’re in a position of authority, it should be looked at as a greater responsibility and you should be fearful because you are held to a higher standard and risk a greater judgment (James 3:1). It shouldn’t be something that is manipulated so that your family or friends get the “ministry” that they want. It shouldn’t be used to keep real brethren at arms length. It should be used to greater glorify God.

For as much as I can see some of the steps that have gotten much of the church off of the path, I still can’t say I understand why. Regardless of the answer, we are here. Either we will continue off in the weeds, wandering farther from the narrow path; or we will come to our senses, see our error and do all that we can to return to what we are supposed to be doing. It is something that can be done on many levels. Whether or not it happens will depend on the individuals, families, and churches that name the name of Christ as theirs. I hope and pray that this happens soon. The Lord is returning and the day looms closer than ever. How many have gone or will go to hell while the church sleeps?…

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