It’s a shame but it’s the truth. Sometimes we have to warn people when we’re being honest. We live in a culture that’s become so sensitive to challenges of opinion that when a disagreement occurs we automatically jump to the defensive. But this isn’t healthy! We need disagreement to grow. If we can’t disagree with someone and talk through it, we are much to be pitied! To that end, if you’re not interested in truth, honesty and perhaps being offended then just stop reading right here. But if you think you can handle the truth, then carry on.
It’s no secret. I serve as a pastor at a church in suburban/rural Ohio. It’s also not really a secret that I have a tendency to talk what’s on my mind. And it’s not really a secret that I don’t always approach life in the same way that many others do. So with all of that said, there’s a problem we need to address. And this is where the honesty part comes in to play. The problem isn’t the world’s problem. It’s the church’s problem. It’s the problem of pastors and church members alike. The problem is that we’ve forgotten our identity. We’ve lost sight of what’s important. And it’s killing the church.
We’ve given our identity over to programs and positions and community events. Now none of these are wrong, but that’s not who we’re called to be. We’ve turned our preaching into self-aggrandizing messages of do-goodery and touchy-feely crap that requires no life change. We’re preaching and teaching a message that doesn’t distinguish us from anyone else in the world. We end up looking just like everyone else and throw some reference to Jesus and assume it’s a Christian message. We speak about doing good and serving others but in the same breath we say that everyone can do whatever they want as long as it doesn’t negatively impact me. We pinpoint other people’s wrongs but ignore the part we play in the problem.
Our identity as followers of Christ is not found in a well crafted message. It’s not found in a perfect plan for evangelism. It’s not even found in a pro-life march or our stance of gender related matters. Our identity is in Christ.
We spent time talking in Bible class this morning about society and church and how sometimes it appears that society is against the church and that church is against society. But why is that the case? Why is it that the world is getting the impression that we are against it? Honestly, it’s our own fault and we shouldn’t be surprised!
We care more about what we’re against than what we’re for!
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We spill countless words on paper and vocally on the sins we won’t stand for, but how often do we share the message that’s really made a difference? It’s good to warn people of the ramifications of sin, but let’s cover all sin – not just our pet peeves! We grandstand on abortion and same-sex relationships but what about gluttony and not caring for our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit just to offer an example! Remember in God’s eyes, sin is sin is sin is sin. It’s great to save people from the devastation of hell but for what are we saving them? Rescuing someone from hell and not welcoming them to heaven leaves them no better off! It’s why Jesus died and rose! Sorry to tell you friends but when we die there are only two destinations – heaven and hell. There’s no third option! So correct wrongs, but connect people with the only real source of right in the world. Go ahead and share what sin is but also connect people to the only source of salvation.
This is not an either or kind of mission. Jesus came to seek and save the lost. Not condemn and kill the broken and lost. Church let’s get this right again. It’s time for us to be who we say we are. It’s time to speak who Jesus is and what he’s done not just what we dislike and don’t believe is right. Jesus said it this way – take the log out of your own eye before taking the speck out of your brother’s eye. I’m not perfect by any means, and i’m sure many of you can point out my flaws (so fire away if you must). But before we go around talking about someone else’s life choices we better be darn sure we have our own affairs in order! A little self evaluation is critical! And believe me, I spend plenty of time realizing my own shortcomings!
Now don’t hear what I’m not saying. This is not condemning nor condoning any lifestyle choice or decision. It’s just a call for the church to rethink how we go about living as church in the world. So let’s preach! Preach law and gospel! Preach sin and salvation! Preach what Jesus came to rescue us from and what he frees us for!