Saturday, May 17, 2008

You're Not Welcome

It is my sad observation in rubbing shoulders with other Christians and in reading publications and hearing reports of children drifting away from the faith, that much of the U.S. Church is in the process of losing its soul and just becoming a part of the world. And I'm not talking just about liberal churches; I mean evangelical churches as well.

I think the process has been going on for a few decades, but has accelerated recently. It began as an admirable attempt to reach out to the world by casting aside unnecessary barriers, such as by using more broadly-understood words instead of "Christian" words ("redemption") and by meeting in non-churchy buildings such as restaurants and old warehouses, and by setting aside non-Biblical prohibitions (not playing cards). The idea was to strip away any stumbling blocks that would prevent people from coming to Christ, and I approved (and continue to approve) most heartily.

But now I think it has gone too far.

After having thrown out all the unnecessary baggage we find that lots of people still don't want to be Christians. Why? Because we're "judgemental" or because nobody should go to Hell, or, "Hey, there are lots of religions in the world." Or because it isn't "relevant" to my life.

So, to address these objections we've started throwing out the necessary baggage. We deemphasize sin and emphasize how welcoming we are "wherever you're at in life;" we downplay Christ and instead talk generically of a loving God while not mentioning that this loving God wants us to stop sinning. And Hell? Uh, well, we prefer to focus on the love of God at this church.

These days all we want is to be accepted and loved by the world, to be "part of the community."

The sight of a wonderful reform movement that has gone too far discourages me immensely and I think it is a sign of the church's slide into irrelevance. A church that does not differ from the world around it has nothing to offer that world.

But I don't think this applies to all the church.

I think there are those who are equally disheartened by this movement, and I think some churches that see the coming evil will put the brakes on, and some new churches will arise that will turn their focus back to Christ.

I think those churches will say, "We love you no matter what, but if you are going to attend this church you need to be making a serious effort to battle sin in your life. If you're stuck in adultery or homosexuality or theft or lying or hatred or cheating or greed or any other sin, you need to be fighting against it. If you do, we're here for you. If you are not, we want you to leave. You are not welcome here. Go away and come back when you are willing to follow Christ."

And I think those churches will say, "You're right. Hell is awful. For God's sake, don't go there!"

And I think they'll say, "We're sorry that you don't think this is a sin, but God said it is."

And I think they'll say, "That there are many religions in the world is irrelevant. The question is: What is true? If another religion is true, go follow it; if Christianity is true, then follow Christ. Don't be a wus!"

And I think that eventually this new church will go too far, and some will emphasize "separation from the world" to an exagerated and un-biblical extent, and then this church will become unnecessarily isolated, and then we'll need yet another correction.

But in the meantime, in general, I think Christians are going to feel increasingly lonely even within their own churches, and I think any notion they may have that they represent a large segment of the population is doomed to disappointment. We are a minority.

But on the other hand, as things continue to slide I think these isolated Christians will find each other and will enjoy sweet fellowship in their mutual devotion to Christ and in their attempts to live for Christ in their lives.

Of course the media and the slip-sliding-away church will not approve of this movement and will do a lot of harumphing about it, but that's fine. Wear it as a badge of honor.

1 comment:

anno said...

Well said! I couldn't agree more. At best there's a bait and switch mentality in some churches; at worst a blantant and deliberate distortion of the Scriptures. It's heart-breaking and depressing.