What about the Church?

The Church doesn’t have a good reputation in society. Christians don’t as a general rule. And that would be okay if society found us offensive because we were preaching Christ crucified for the forgiveness of sins.

Unfortunately, the truth is, Christians and the Church are often slammed as unloving, bigoted, legalistic, shallow, self-righteous, controlling, money-grubbing … need I go on? These are not the kinds of qualities people associated with Christ, and I suspect they aren’t ones He’s happy to see others connect with us.

Certainly there are exaggerations and some of these caricatures have developed as a result of false teachers claiming the name of Christ when in fact they are far from Him. But an honest assessment also says a lot of people who love God and believe in His Son Jesus still have spent most of their time and effort making life more comfortable and easier for … them and their families.

We teach the importance of family, don’t we? So what could be wrong with a dad or a mom who puts a high priority in making a safe and secure and nurturing environment for their loved ones?

Nothing’s wrong, it’s just that it’s not complete. How we’re to balance it all, I can’t say, but Scripture is clear that we are to look beyond ourselves. In the New Testament, believers are authorized to “make disciples.” We are told we are to be salt to the world, we are to be light in the darkness. And we are told others will know we are Christians by how we love each other.

What does salty living look like? The Old Testament gives us a window to understanding what God expects. In Isaiah, God rebukes His people:

Is this not the fast which I [the LORD] choose,
To loosen the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the bands of the yoke,
And to let the oppressed go free
And break every yoke?
Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry
And to bring the homeless poor into the house;
When you see the naked, to cover him;
And not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then your light will break out like the dawn.
– Isaiah 58:6-8a

I have spread out My hands all day long to a rebellious people …
A people who continually provoke Me to My face …
Who say, ‘Keep to yourself, do not come near me,
For I am holier than you!’
– Isaiah 65:2-5

I don’t know about you, but … ouch!

Those words sting me because I have been caught up in my own stuff for too long. How different would our culture look if we Christians took seriously our call to sacrificially love those we rub shoulders with day after day. If we carried our enemy’s bag an extra mile instead of playing the gotcha game. If we stopped walking to the opposite side of the road when sinners came along and realized instead that nothing separates me from them except the blood of Christ.

What if we all took the money we normally spend for Easter eggs or candy or new clothes or cards and did something selfless with it instead? What if there was so much giving in a time of recession the news media would have to cover it and viewers would be scratching their heads wondering why millions of us suddenly cared more for others than we did for ourselves. Now wouldn’t that shed some light?

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Published in: on March 24, 2009 at 1:58 pm  Comments (7)  
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7 Comments

  1. Hey Rebecca, good post. Your mention of the church’s reputation sparked something in my mind. Have you heard of the Evangelical manifesto? If not, you might be curious to check it out. It confronts many of the misconceptions placed upon Christians…

    Here’s the site: http://www.anevangelicalmanifesto.com/

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  2. Oh Becky! Thank you for pointing out those verses! I will leave another hearty a-men to this post as well! My husband and I have been volunteering at a resident rehab center for women for almost two years now, and the Lord continuously teaches me that I must have a servant’s heart…I must reach out to others…I must show them the love of Christ, not just tell them.

    We are all being called – yea commanded to love others as Christ loved them. Our world needs to see that more than ever. I will continue to pray that the Lord will draw us all closer to Him and make us salty once again.

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  3. Thanks Becky for the word today…I agree that we as the Church leave a lot to be desired. Unfortunately that’s what the world thinks too. Have you read that new book called “UnChristian”? It as written by Dave Kinnaman, who is a researcher at Barna Research. Anyway, he finds that people see us as hypocrites and others things. I love the idea of passing up easter candy and giving to charity. That certainly would be a great statement!

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  4. Great post, Becky! Convicting. Thanks.

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  5. Brandon, I actually did a four-part post about the Evangelical Manifesto. If you’re interested, you’ll find the first post here.

    Becky

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  6. Kim, I’m convinced prayer is the most powerful tool we have. We know that God wants us to be salt and light, so we can pray confident that we are asking what is His will.

    Becky

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  7. Alex, I don’t know that the world will ever think well of Christians. They hated Christ, after all, and He told us to expect the same. The problem, as I view it, is in being hated for the wrong reason. If we are hated because we are self-righteous … well, God condemns us for that, too.

    But the thing is, I don’t think the sins so commonly associated with Christians are consistent with the believers I know. That makes me think a lot of criticism is thrown at the Church when in fact it belongs on a group of people who are playing church.

    Of course, only God knows our hearts.

    Sally, thanks for your feedback. I always appreciate you taking the time to weigh in on a discussion.

    Becky

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