So, I left my church, but I was perplexed as where to go from there. There are all sorts of nice churches. I know because I have been to lots of them. However, I couldn’t shake the idea that I wouldn’t find what I was looking for. I had to really dig deep to get to the root of this issue.
Here’s what I was seeing. For you who follow my writing, I have been struggling with this for a long time. I started looking past the activity of Sunday to see what fruit I could find in comparison to the early church – the one in Acts. I see very little, in comparison. What was that early fruit? The gospel was boldly proclaimed in the street. Buildings where shaken in prayer. Miracles were common. People gladly gave up possessions to share with those in need. Yes, people were afraid, but they seemingly couldn’t be stopped. Indeed, they couldn’t.
What do we see in the USA? The church, as a whole, is assimilating into the culture. Some churches claim to be gospel churches, but many of those are “seeker-friendly” and avoid “controversial” topics. Very few boldly proclaim the full scope of the bible in the streets. Yes, some do proclaim the gospel but only in the confines of their own building. Even so, a hell-fire and brimstone preacher is a rare thing anymore. When is the last time you saw a preacher beg for sinners to repent? When have you seen a preacher weep for fear of the lost who are doomed to the lake of fire?
I’m not putting all the blame on pastors. The people in the pews don’t want to hear about all that, either. Oh, sure, some might, but not enough to outvote those who prefer the softer, gentler version of the gospel.
You may say that your church is different. Fine. I’m not going to argue with you. Still, I challenge you to compare your church to the church of Acts. Yours may look good compared to other churches in today’s USA, but how about the first church?
What does our typical church look like? Well, let me tell you what I see. Most people arrive right around the time church is supposed to start. If you really pay attention, you’ll be shocked to find how many arrive after the music has started. On the other hand, the building is completely empty 10 minutes after the last song. They say actions speak louder than words. Well, I tell you, it seems to me that Christians have more important things to do than hang around other Christians.
I suppose we are all excited to share the gospel with the rest of the world. That must be what we are doing, evangelizing. We’re so fired up that we are boldly sharing the gospel. Ha.
We simply are not excited about the gospel. What church can you say experiences this?
Jeremiah 20:9 If I say, “I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,” there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.
I suppose if you really scour this country, you could find a few like this, but you will drive by countless congregations that think this is crazy talk.
But is it crazy talk? No. That’s what the Spirit of God will do to us unless we hold it down, when we grieve it.
Look, we don’t know our fellow congregants well enough to share our secret sin. We don’t open our pocket books wide to help our brothers and sisters in need. Certainly, we don’t sell any property. We are getting fatter and fatter. We are medicating ourselves more and more for depression and anxiety. We have big problems with our finances and marriages. We have absolutely no time in our busy schedules to give to someone who needs a friend.
There is plenty of blame to go around. Our pastors have no excuse for not being on fire. Neither do we who sit in the pews. We have the letters to the churches. We would be wise to heed the warnings.
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22
Father, open our ears. Amen.
Copyright © 2019 Scott Powers
Photo by Anjie Webbie on Unsplash