How long? When is enough enough? Does anything sacred remain? Is there anything that will move you to action?
I’ve watched political and social groups in this country unite and organize. It’s impressive. The response to their efforts, equally impressive. Their message is being heard widely, and rapidly embraced. Most Americans have heard about the plight of the LGBT community and the Black Lives Matter movement. That is the power of unity around a message. Unity is what we are supposed to have in the Christian community. It’s what we lack. It’s what Jesus wanted and prayed for us. It’s what we’ve neglected to pursue ourselves. Within a one mile radius of my church there are at least nine other churches. We’ve never gotten together to pray or praise. Don’t tell me it’s a “demoninational” issue. It’s not. We all believe that God is worthy to be praise, and surely we should all understand the power of prayer. It’s a comfort issue. Comfort has replaced holiness. We like our black churches, our white churches, our hispanic churches, our asian churches. We like to be among those we we relate to, economically, culturally, etc. Tell me what barrier the Spirit cannot overcome? Wasn’t it God who authored speaking in tongues? Didn’t He make people who didn’t speak the same language to understand each other? We are lying about our reasons for segregation on Sunday mornings. Those reasons may not be sinister, but they directly contradict who and what we are supposed to be. United. Our lack of unity is a poor picture for all who sees. It is among the key factors that have caused systemic impotence in the church. Hypocrisy.
We struggle with unity, because we have mishandled truth. In some cases we’ve ignored it altogether. Truth is the only source of genuine unity. When the truth of any cause is greater than methods or personal styles, the message becomes the focus and unity prevails. When pride in personal styles becomes primary, division is guaranteed. This is the current condition of the church. We are comfortable with our personal styles, our lives. We have neglected to love each other in a way impresses anyone. We love those who love us. We hoard our riches. We neglect orphans and widows, the poor, and outcast. We’re not entirely selfish. We give. We give just enough so the world thinks we are good, but not enough that the world sees God in our giving. And of course not enough to hinder our pursiut of the “American dream.” Afterall we have to be “comfortable.”
We lie. We do not tell the truth. There are fornicators and adulturers in our midst. There are unhappy marriages, and broken familial relationships in our midst. We have rebellious kids, we were rebellious kids. Teenage pregnancies, abortions, rape, sexual harassment, those have happened in churches too. We are plagued by lust, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, substance abuse, self harm, greed, doubt and more. There are bigots among us. We have biases. We wrestle with evil, sin, wrong thoughts, and actions. We do not tell the truth about our problems, therefore we are not trusted to have real answers to “real problems/issues.” If we do not have “real problems” how can we be expected to have relevant answers to “real problems.” The difference between the church and the world in the power of God living in us to overcome the world. As God once shared with me “sometimes the “only difference” is ALL the difference.” Instead of highlighting the difference the power of God makes, we’ve choosen to relate to the world on sin in the most unhealthy ways. We boast in our sin, not our God. In a nutshell we believe that if they see us struggling with sin then they’ll feel welcomed among us. No. They need to see us overcoming sin, then they’ll pursue what makes that possible in us.
To worsen matters we have the same goals as as the world. We support the same unholy causes. We are entertained by the same shows, the same movies, the same songs. We follow the same entertainers, the same trends. We wear the same clothes. We go to the same places. We blend in. Camoflauged in the things, trends and thoughts that matter to this world. “Christians don’t have to be or appear weird.” This is the objection I hear to being “a peculiar people.” We fear “looking weird” more than we fear God. How weird is it that children of the great, loving, and giving, kind God follow the ways of death, destruction and defeat? It’s like a bunch of chicks choosing to follow a fox, or sheep choosing to follow wolves. I don’t believe that anyone with the fear of weirdness has ever done anything great in the name of God. It’s time we get over ourselves. It’s time we let go our “weird fear” for the fear of God.
I’m not suggesting we all wear long gowns, and burn our televisions,(although tele burning is not a bad idea) but surely we can agree that there is an expectation of modesty in our clothing for Christian men and women. Daisy dukes and halters literally doesn’t cover it. Surely, we can agree that if we are consumers of entertainment that promote what God calls sin, they desensitize us to the things of the spirit, and we are wrong to partake in them. Would you watch shows where people take God’s name in vain in His presence? Some of you are already screaming “legalism!” You live as though grace means God has no standards or He has lowered them. You are wrong. There is still such a thing as truth. Holiness demands it. Right exist. Wrong exist. Grace doesn’t mean we flirt and engage in “acceptable sins.” Grace means change. The realization of grace means that the goodness of God constrains us from flith, and propels us to purity. It is God’s kindness that leads us to repentance. It’s not that we are not tempted, but that our current state makes the flirtation with what we once were unapealing. Instead we have a church that is numb to the spirit, playmates with the world, in full pursuit of self, and sinning like the word or consquences no longer exsit.
This is why the church has been maginalized, quarrantined. We no longer have immoveable standards. We are unwilling fall on the sword of principles and truth. We are willing to reject the standards of God to accomodate our attraction and affair with the things and concerns of this world. We have made this world greater than the world to come. It has weaken our message. We are irrelevant to a society that watches nothing spectacular or pecuilar about us. We don’t really follow the truth we claim we believe, yet we invite others to join us. We cover our hyprocisy of living flatlined spiritual lives, by saying we have grace, by living like God’s standards have changed and claiming that He no longer works in extraordinary ways. There are no migthy works of the spirit in us, because there is no commitment to truth. At least our “do what you feel” world is following what it wants to. There is truth in that. Why should they follow us, when we are just some odd “christiany” counterfeit of them? If I’m going to follow the world, I’ll follow the world in earnest, not a “Christian” that looks like the world. There is a difference. The orginal is more respected than the counterfiet. This is why we Christians must be genuine believers, not worldly “do gooders.” If we fail, we fail in truth. Let’s not pollute the gospel or our standards. Let us not allow comfortable christianity get in the way of holiness.
Despite the protest the world needs us. The world needs our leadership. The world needs our light. Light never shines on one person. It shines on all. It gives clarity to all, both the just and unjust. Light helps most those living in darkness. Let’s not allow darkness to cover our light. Come out of the shadows and shine. Unveil your light before this world while you still can. Rise up! Be willing to say hard things. Truth must have an unadulturated voice. Let it have yours.
Jesus came to earth armed with the power of the word of truth. He could have come with legions of angels. Instead He brought words. He backed them up. His actions based on His words changed the world. The Word of truth STILL has that power. It is mighty to the pulling down of strongholds. We must use them. We must do this not to get a desired response, but because we love people, and hope to see captives set free. We were once captives ourselves. Truth changed our lives. Others need this truth too. Christians cannot afford to fall back in love with the ways of the world. We must love humanity more. We must remind ourselves what is at stake, and what is worth fighting for.
Fight. We must remember we are in a battle. We have many Goliaths standing in front of us in the forms of society, culture, apathy, fear, and more, but in order to defeat Goliath, we must be actively involved in fighting him. Where, on what fronts are you fighting in your life? How are you doing that? Surveying the vast field of casualities and consequences of war (sin in this world) and shaking one’s head in disagreement is no more fighting than staring at fire ravaging people and expecting your look of dissaproval to put it out. We must pick up a bucket of water. This world is on fire. We must be willing to fight the flames back. We must say hard things. Do hard things for their sake. We must expect the fierce pain of blows from the ememy as we battle back. We must anticipate the pain of being burned or singed. Let it be a reminder that of what’s at stake. We are at war for the souls of men. It is a worthy cause, one worth dying for.
It’s time. It’s time we repent of worldliness, rise up and stand boldly on the word of God, on truth. Truth needs a voice, our voice. Speak it in love. Be bold. Be corageous. Be heard.