We are reaping what we've sown. We've sown (or allowed to be sown) the wind and are now reaping the whirlwind. I read a status on here this morning about a 21 year old invited to church who responded that he had NEVER been to church! For some of you this will be foreign. I know this because I live in the south where there is a church on every corner and everybody thinks they’re a “preacher!” There is a huge portion of our nation for which this is simply not true. I was speaking once in a large urban area in a church of another denomination than mine. After the THIRD service with over 2500 in attendance in back to back services (on that Sunday morning) I asked the pastor what kind of outreach they were using to have such a large crowd. He just looked at me and said “you don’t get it do you?” I looked at him and heard him say the following…”Jeff in this city we are the ONLY show in town! People don’t DO the church thing here like they do where YOU come from. They have no choice as to where to go to worship. Most of these folks don’t even belong to this denomination. They just have no choice! WE are IT!” He continued…”in this city we have an NFL team, an NBA team and every possible type of entertainment on a regular basis. I’m not some genius pastor; I just pastor where “some” people are really hungry for God and have very few options as to where to pursue that love!” WOW! That conversation never left me. Options; man we’ve got em don’t we! We have raised (or allowed to be raised) an entire generation of kids who don’t even know there was ever anything different than what we have today. Make no mistake about it we now have a nearly totally secularized society! Blaming the society would be like blaming the food for people being overweight. It’s not society’s fault. THEY are society and we are disingenuous when we blame the secular world for BEING the secular world. Our kids have watched US go to church, act disinterested, get mad when we didn’t get OUR way and if it went far enough we would go join or START another church. We did it and they saw it. We did it in the name of freedom…and “options.” But when our local (or favorite) sports team does something we don’t like we keep right on cheering, attending, believing and PAYING! Our favorite TV show may even get canceled but we don’t get rid of our television or boycott the network. That kind of quitting and splitting mentality is reserved for “church” and this generation has determined that “church” is just not important enough to care about. Maybe the Black Eyed Peas had it right when they asked…Where is the LOVE. God said to love HIM with all your heart. WE haven’t done that. Jesus said just before He began the journey to the cross “by THIS shall all men know you’re my disciples…if you have LOVE one for another.” Meanwhile city after city is built with very few if any churches or church influence and those that have them (churches) keep playing the silly games about “having it ‘our’ way or we’ll just take our ball and go start another one.” God bless the legitimate church “plants” out there but God HELP the splits for the sake of this “our way or the highway” mentality. So before you ask the question “where is the Church?”… Maybe we should ask and answer the Black Eyed Peas question…where is the LOVE? It’s not that we don’t have enough churches…it’s that we don’t have enough REAL Church!
"At one of our Southern Baptist Universities I recently participated in a confab in which the question being considered was this: Name some things we do as churches that lean more toward the “traditions of men” than the authority of Scripture. I was surprised that no one wanted to begin the discussion. So I began for them. I said “well…how about Sunday night worship services?” I went on to question Wednesday night services, the 11:00 a.m. starting time on Sunday morning services and that opened the flood gates to a whole host of things that we do not because they have any scriptural basis but rather…well…because we’ve always done it that way in the past. Now I’m not saying that there is anything WRONG with any of these things. However the question on the table that day was Is it a tradition on men OR is it scriptural! With those as the only two choices you can see where my conclusion lay that day. I said simply that it would be easier to figure out what we do that IS scriptural than to name all the things we do that ARE the traditions of men! I’m not trying to start a “movement” to start or stop anything. I’m simply trying to get us as church people to analyze just what it is we’re defending when we defend! Just because we’ve always done it a certain way in the past doesn’t make something right OR wrong but neither does it place any of it above question or consideration. The traditions of men are not the most evil things in the world but they are also never (by the passage of time) elevated to the level of being scriptural either. If you want to know why the church loses more and more of its relevance as each year passes look no further than the infighting that goes on amongst us as we declare either that churches who no longer meet on Sunday night are evil OR that churches who DO (meet on Sunday night) are inherently more spiritual because they DO! To take the foolishness to one more level of laughability…we had a group of farmers at a former church of mine who wanted to move the service time on Wednesday night UP by 30 minutes so they could get out earlier and get to bed at a more appropriate time for “crack of dawn” risers like themselves. When it came to the floor for a vote I (as moderator) asked that ONLY those who actually attended Wednesday night service be allowed to vote because if you don’t so much as even come…what difference does it possibility make to YOU when we start!! You would have thought I made a motion to burn the Bible on the altar! When we want to make the rules OTHERS are forced to follow that WE have no intention or history of following ourselves that is Phariseeism at its height…and all in the name of promoting the traditions of men!! All I am saying is this. The “world” is watching as we defend the indefensible and like Don Quixote strike out at windmills and straw men. Then we want to complain when nobody takes us seriously. If you look closely you will discover as I AND the committee who studied this question that it’s easier to find what we DO that’s scriptural than it is to even TRY to find and name all the things we do that are the traditions of men! It’s not who’s right and who’s wrong…it’s about what is inherently scriptural and what is NOT!"
Grace is so misunderstood. I think that’s because it’s a total God thing. I had a person in my office recently who was lamenting the fact that they “weren't DOING enough for God.” I reminded them that we don’t go to Heaven because of what we DO nor do we go because of what we DON’T do. We go or don’t go based solely on our acceptance of the sacrifice of the cross of Christ. What can wash away my sin? NOTHING but the blood of Jesus! In the Old Testament God used an adulterous, murderer to become the greatest king Israel ever had. In the New Testament He used a Christ denier to preach the message at Pentecost that exploded the birth of the Church! Yeah…believe it or not…God uses failures! That’s GRACE! We need to remember that when WE deal with people who experience failure. Scripture doesn’t say we should gloat over their failure. It doesn’t say we should say “I told you so” when they fail. Rather it says “when we see a person overtaken in a fault…you who are spiritual (not better than or perfect just spiritual) RESTORE such a one in the spirit of meekness!” To me the spirit of meekness is that spirit that says “there but for the GRACE of God could be me or HAS been me in the past and I want to help! Grace has its own politics. When someone ELSE needs grace we want to dole it out slowly…with all kind of conditions and at a price that WE determine! Oh but when WE need grace…well…they can’t get the floodgates open fast enough or wide enough for US! Bottom line is this: If it’s not God’s grace that does the doing…then none of us can go and there is NONE of us that are righteous…nope…not even ONE!