What’s wrong with the Church?

I learned a long time ago never to write when I’m angry. So I may delete this post before it goes live. If you’re reading this now, you can assume the Holy Spirit shouted at me loud enough to keep it, because I don’t usually do this.

I’ve about had it, folks.

Never in my memory have I ever seen so many people who claim to follow Jesus point so many fingers. Social media has become a hub of bitterness and resentment, even more than it usually is, but it’s not the “worldly” people who are causing the biggest stir. It’s those of us who claim to follow Jesus. And we’re not going after people who don’t believe. We’re going after each other. Maliciously.

What is wrong with us?

I’m not surprise to hear it from people who don’t believe in Jesus. Honestly, this post is for Christians. Because if you say you follow Christ, and you are lashing out at other Christians, my friend, you are wrong (1 John 4:20). I don’t care what the issue is. I don’t care what you think you’re standing for. When your words and actions are intentionally damaging, you are not representing Jesus, and if you say you are, you are literally taking His name in vain—putting His stamp of approval on actions He would never sanction.

There are so many issues floating around right now, and everyone is so divided. Your political stance doesn’t matter. That’s not what this post is about (even though some people will make political). This post is a broken-hearted cry to anyone who believes in Jesus to get your heads out of your proverbial asses and start taking personal accountability for the words that are coming out of your mouths (Matthew 12:33-37).

If you don’t think the country should accept refugees, take the Bible verses you used to make your point and live by them on every other subject—not just the ones that stroke your ego. If you don’t use the Bible to direct the way you live normally, you have no place using it to justify this one point. You’re a hypocrite.

If you think the country should accept refugees, that’s great, but first, you should open the door to your own home and let strangers live in your house, interact with your children, and use your resources. If you’re willing to put your own happy home life at risk for the sake of someone else, you can urge the rest of the country to do it too. If you haven’t already done that, keep your naive opinions to yourself.

Nothing has changed

This is the same problem the Church has always had. We point fingers without personal risk (James 1:22). We sit on our blessed assurance and tell everyone else how to do their jobs, but when it comes to actually serving someone else, we close our doors. When it comes to putting our own lives on the line or sacrificing our own resources, we turn a blind eye. It’s perfectly fine to demand that the country as a whole should follow God, but when we are faced with a choice between a Godly option that will cause us discomfort and a worldly option that will be convenient, we often choose convenience.

Welcome to Club Humanity, where everyone’s screwed up but nobody will actually admit it.

Do you think that knowing a few Bible verses makes you eligible to speak for God? Do you think that dropping an occasional 20 in the offering plate makes you a generous person? Do you think having a family of your own gives you the right to hand down judgment on what other families should do? Do you think your church membership makes you more qualified to determine whether someone is worthy of salvation or not?

God, have mercy on us. All of us. We have no idea what we’re doing.

We’re taking sides and loading our weapons and facing off with each other when we should be united. We’re focusing on the issues that divide us rather than on Your love that should be binding us together. We’re listening to flawed human logic when we should be building our lives on Your eternal truth. And we’re taking Your truth and twisting it to suit our own needs rather than Your wisdom—wisdom you make plain in your Word.

How do we fix this mess?

I don’t have the answer. No human can fix us. Only God can do that. But He won’t until we all stop acting like we are the source of righteousness, when all we’re doing is adding to the noise.

Stop screaming and shouting. Stop with the impotent Facebook status updates that only stir up conflict and aggression. Just stop. Listen. Pray. And when you feel the need to be cruel to another believer, don’t. Because you’re not helping. It doesn’t matter what side of the fence you’re on. It doesn’t matter whether you call yourself conservative or liberal, right-wing or left-wing, Republican or Democrat. If you call Jesus Lord, you belong to God’s family, and God’s family is never supposed to act like this.

Stop trying to be the loudest voice in the room. That’s not what the Church is here for. We’re all so caught up in trying to prove to the rest of the world that we’re right that we’re forgetting our most important job: To love each other (Matthew 22:37-40).

And I’m not talking about loving foreigners. I’m not talking about extending grace and mercy to unbelievers. I’m talking about loving our fellow Christ-followers, our brothers and sisters in the faith. That’s the only way the world knows we’re different. That’s the only clue the world has that God is real (John 13:35). It’s how we love each other, especially when we disagree with each other.

What can we do?

You want to honor God? You want to do what God says is right? Start there. Love each other. And show that you love each other by extending kindness and grace to the people you don’t agree with, regardless which side of the political arena they’re sitting on.

Take what you say you believe and live it. Take how you’re telling other people to live and put it into practice in your own life. Then you can talk. Then you expect other people to listen. Until you do that, you’re no better than the politicians who write laws that they don’t have to obey. And you’re part of the problem instead of the solution.

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Let me sum up.

So where did spring go? It was just here and now it’s gone again, and I let myself get used to warmer weather. Now I’m freezing . . . . Oh, well. I should have known. Kansas has the strangest weather on the planet. In one week last week we had a temperature differential of 95 degrees. We were around -20 on day and then seven days later we were at nearly 80. It’s ridiculous. But it’s not cold enough for my fingers to be numb, so I’m a happy camper.

I love the movie The Princess Bride, and I love the character Inigo Montoya (of “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” fame). And every time I have too much to say in too short a time, I always try to let loose the famous: “No, is too much. Let me sum up.”

I feel kind of like that’s what Paul is saying in the verse of the day this morning.

Romans 13:9-10

9 For the commandments say, “You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet.”[a] These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 10 Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law.

God gave us the Ten Commandments for a number of reasons, but it was mainly to prove to us that we were unable to keep them. That we needed Someone perfect to take our punishment in our place. Through the years, there have been people who say that they have kept all the Ten Commandments, but it’s not possible. It’s good to strive toward something, and they are good moral commandments to follow. But they don’t exist to make us perfect; they exist to show us our need of a Savior.

But since people are always asking for an easy way to understand things, I like how Paul (and before him, Jesus) sum up the Ten Commandments. Actually, why don’t I list the Ten Commandments so we’re all on the same page?  You can find them in Exodus 20 (and elsewhere, but Exodus 20 is generally the book used to refer to them).

Exodus 20:1-17

 1 Then God gave the people all these instructions[a]:

 2 “I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery.
 3 “You must not have any other god but me.
 4You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. 5 You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me. 6 But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those[b] who love me and obey my commands.
 7You must not misuse the name of the Lord your God. The Lord will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name.
 8Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 You have six days each week for your ordinary work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.
 12Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
 13You must not murder.
 14You must not commit adultery.
 15You must not steal.
 16You must not testify falsely against your neighbor.
 17You must not covet your neighbor’s house. You must not covet your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor.”

Ten commandments. Ten rules for living. They’re very specific, and even though some of them may be obvious, they are only obvious because most of us Americans have grown up in a culture shaped by Christian thought. Adultery, theft, lying and even murder in some cases is looked on favorably in other cultures.

But if you look at the Ten Commandments and really get down into what they mean, you can sum up the last six of them by what Paul said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love your parents. Love your spouse. Love your neighbors. Love your cooworkers. Love the people you go to school with. Love the people you go to church with.  Love them as much as you love yourself, and you will abide by the Ten Commandments automatically.

The first four commandments can be summed up by saying Love God, like Jesus did in Matthew 22:37-40.

 37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’[e] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[f] 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

Like I’ve said before, love God and love people. That’s how a Christian should live.