I got on Facebook the other week (which is something I do less and less) and I was struck by two articles I saw.
The first was titled: Evangelist who wants $54M jet says “Jesus wouldn’t be riding a donkey”
The second was titled: Liberty University Cinema Dept. Producing Feature Film ‘The Trump Prophecy’
If you didn’t see these, you’ve probably seen an article similar to these.
This is what Christians are increasingly becoming known for… Our extravagant waste of money and our political leaning. Calm down, I’m not trying to convince you to vote or not vote a certain way. But I do want you to see the danger when the church is known within our world for following a political leader and not Jesus. Big problem.
My first reaction is, I can’t believe they are doing this. I want to distance myself from them. But the problem is I can’t. They are Christians and are part of the same Church I am a part of. As much as we don’t want to admit it. We’ve allowed these things to take hold and thrive.
I get that it’s the vocal minority that are giving Christians a bad name. But we’re allowing it to happen.
Christians are largely known in our culture for talking about money and our political leanings. Hey church… We’ve allowed this. I’ve allowed this. And that’s got to change.
We’ve allowed the prosperity Gospel to thrive. We’ve allowed our eyes to be taken off Jesus and placed on our own desires and wants. We’ve let these kinds of preachers thrive because we have the same sin in our hearts.
We’ve allowed Nationalism to overtake the Gospel. We’ve allowed our brothers and sisters to get so caught up in following their political leader that they’ve forgotten Jesus. Before you say we are bringing our country back to God, we aren’t. We, the Evangelical Church, are quickly leaving him behind.
If you are like me the temptation is to place the blame on those people; whoever they are. But the reality is we’ve allowed this. Every Christian holds a stake in the church and we’ve let this happen. We have allowed these problems in the church.
While I was on Facebook that day I also saw this post from Toby Morrell (from the Bad Christian Podcast) and I think it sums this up: “Do not say this is not Christianity. It is. We’ve allowed this and created it. This is evil and there’s so much more than we’ve acknowledged. We’ve turned our eyes from Jesus to ourselves.”
We’ve allowed the church to become what it is today. Sure, everything is not 100% a single person’s fault. No one person bears all the blame. But each of us does play a part. So each of us can be part of the solution.
We’ve Allowed Nationalism To Overtake Jesus
One thing that has shocked me over the past few years is not what’s happened in our country but the division that’s been amplified. And the Church has been silent. Sure there’s been a few people that have said a few things or wrote a few articles, but by and large, the Church has said and done nothing.
Why haven’t we called out the unhealthy beliefs (on the right and the left) that so many Christians have towards nationalism? Why have we left so many Christians to put their hope in who’s president and not in Jesus? We’ve tied our hope not in Jesus but in America.
The Church is quickly losing it’s relevancy in America because we’ve picked up the wrong agenda. We’ve been inundated with the idea that it’s all about us. That our problems will be solved if we just pass _______. Or that we need to make America great again. Listen, those aren’t bad things for a nation to get caught up in. But the Church’s mission is vastly different.
Christians aren’t called to make America great. We are called to love the undeserving. Help the hurting. Heal the sick. Eat dinner with the outcasts. Welcome in strangers. Be more concerned with others than our own needs and safety. Of course Christians can, and should, be involved with the country they live in. But we cannot let the concerns of our nation overtake the concerns of the Gospel. One will ALWAYS trump the other. We need to make sure we’ve got it in the right order.
Let’s get back to the heart of the Gospel. We need to take our hope out of whatever is happening, or not happening, in this country and place it on what Jesus did. The Church should be more interested in following Jesus rather than building an empire that will one day collapse.
We’ve Allowed The Church To Lose Its Focus
The church in American is increasingly gaining a negative view of our culture. Just go read a few studies on Barna or Pew. Of course, a major influence is a few bad apples that go around using God to gain power and money. They are extreme cases and not the norm. But that doesn’t change the fact that it influences how people outside the church view Christians.
It deeply saddens me that the American Church has the money to end world hunger, provide clean water, and prevent curable diseases for the whole world and we refuse. We should do this, but we don’t. We would rather have our comfort than for people to live. Let me rephrase that. I would rather have my comfort, than for people to live.
But it’s not just global injustice we’ve allowed. It’s right here in our country. We have a people group that over and over is telling us they are discriminated against. What does the majority of the white Evangelical Church say? No, you aren’t…
Rather than listening, understanding, and helping those that are hurting, we’ve ignored, pushed aside, and focused on ourselves. Jesus ran towards those people. He sought out the people that the religious wouldn’t even acknowledge.
We’ve allowed this for long enough; now it’s time to change.
We’ve Allowed It… Now It’s Time To Change
We’ve allowed our culture to dictate what our lives look like and where we should find our identity. We’ve placed our hope in the next candidate rather than Jesus. We’ve pointed the finger at those outside the church while turning a blind eye to the sins inside the church. We’ve turned our eyes from Jesus to ourselves.
We can point fingers and come up with a thousand excuses for why this is “their” fault. But that won’t get us anywhere. The only way that we can remove the toxic beliefs and practices that have crept into the church is when we each accept that we’ve allowed it to exist. AND when we each say, no more. No longer will I stand for the things Jesus was against. I will take my cues from Jesus and not from culture, my political party, the next agenda, and not even directly from the church.
It’s time we take responsibility for the state of the church and do everything in our power to restore it what God intended it to be.