I recently read a man’s article on his criticism of the church, blaming the people inside the four walls for the exodus of attendees. I will agree that there is no perfectly imperfect church. That’s probably because we’re made up of humans, and humans make mistakes all the time. So before I rip apart this young man’s blog, let me pause to really process my response as kindly as possible…
Though we are living in a seemingly post-Christian country, Christianity is still the fastest growing world religion. So some people of God are still obeying him in living out the great commission, leaving their comfy four walls to meet people where they are. So, no I don’t think my “side of the exodus sucks.” Should more Christ followers be doing this? Of course they should! Frankly, if they’re not doing so, they are disobeying God just like any other sinner.
The writer was spot on and his criticism of choosing religion over relationship. Christianity is all about relationship with the only living God. When we get distracted by our own Sunday morning preferences and personal experiences, we’re choosing Christianity the religion, but we’re missing the icing on the cake that the Holy Spirit is trying to feed us!
Christians are flawed too. The only difference is that we have the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth (because there is only one absolute truth), so that we can be more like Jesus and less like the world. To be a Christian is to be sanctified – set apart. This means that as we’re growing in our walk we are shedding off the old sinful nature, and being renewed in Christ. So Christians really should look different. So what does this transformation look like? Paul described it this way:
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (Galatians 5:19-25 NIV)
Sin is still sin. What was sin 2000 years ago is still sin today. There’s a penalty for that sin. It’s called death. Sometimes it leads to an unexpected physical death, but it always leads to spiritual death. The law of the land (and its amendments) will never change God’s law. Romans 3:10 says “there is none righteous, no not one.” That is why God the Son came to earth as a baby, living in the sin sick world that we live in today. He would empathize with us and later sacrifice his life for us. Luckily the story doesn’t end there. He rose again defeating death so that when we figuratively died to our sinful self, we could be alive in Christ. I’m so thankful for that part!
I’m so thankful for his grace that saved me! I’m so thankful that when I screw up, he’s right there waiting to pull me out of the pit! But do I keep sinning willfully just because I have grace? Absolutely not! That’s why the Holy Spirit gave me self-control with that fruit of the Spirit.
You see people focus so much on love while they ignore the self control part. Now I’m not going to condemn nonbelievers to hell; that is not love. But since the article was addressing people leaving the church, it is safe to say these people know that the lifestyle their choosing (whatever it is) is in contrast to scripture. If the believer is choosing the world over God, it is not judgmental to confront a brother or sister in Christ about known sin. Jesus expose the sin of the Pharisees and the non-religious. He just did it with the love of a parent who wants the best for their child.
Now, as a church we need to go to the hurting around us. We need to share the message with love, but we should never water it down to the point that it blends in with the rest of the world. After all, we’re called to be set apart.