(Trussville, AL USA)
"12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.(Philippians 3:12-14)
I've decided to title this blog "Has The Church Given Christianity A Bad Name", as I feel that it may be badly needed in today's society. According to the major polling authorities, approx. 70% of the American population claim to be Christian. If that be the case, why is this old world in such a mess ? Now, before you form an opinion, please read on.
So, has the church really become bad for Christians ? Twenty or thirty years ago, if this question were ask, I'd know the answer. In today's environment, however, I'm not really sure of the answer. With the social front being what it is today, sad to say, the secular mindset seems to be creeping, or maybe falling head first, into the church doctrinal mix. Which in many cases, has influenced the attitude of the congregations.
Going to church is not about compliance or just responsibility. Yes, some churches surely do not inspire us nor does the pastor or minister. They at times can be boring and always seem to have their hands out for more of your time, efforts and money. Let's face it, the average church, tends just to be that, average, and in some ways treated more like a business rather than the citadel of God. This is because the Body of Christ has not taken ownership of the church and all its potential. How your church stands, in works and spirituality, depends all on where you are, and where the leadership initiative of the pastor and board members are, as well (Philippians 1:21).
Understandably, Christianity hasn't changed (Hebrews 13:8). Nor, has the dictates of scripture (2 Timothy 3:16). However, people have changed, down through the ages. Therefore, so has some of the dictates of the church leadership. So, call me a "Christian Dinosaur", if you may. However, I still hold to the "Old Time Religion" practices. Please read (Acts 2:41-47) to see a resume of the true first church.
Since my retirement, I have made it a hobby of tuning in a variance of Christian TV and radio programs. They all seem to concentrated around certain doctrinal themes, as if they have gotten their marching orders from the same laity. Some of these doctrines are suspect. While to others, a shout a big "Amen". You see, the scripture plainly tells us to try the spirits, whether they be of God (1 John 4:1). If my spirit feels uneasy, I simply tune out the particular program. I just don't believe in this new found psychology of the "Name it and claim it" religion. I still believe in a direct approach to the "Full Gospel" (1 Cor 15:1-4).
Yes, I almost hate to use that term, Christian, simply because of the negative connotations it receives in today’s politically correct society. Normally I try to keep quiet, and keep my mouth shut. Nonetheless, I just feel lead to give my concerned opinion, as Christianity seems to be going the way of all the other broadminded dictates. You see, I just feel lead to speak up for the truth (John 8:32). So, here's my take or scenario, based on my religious experience.
So, please allow me to give my "Two Cents" worth, in the form scenarios, of which I have witnessed, been a part of, or have heard about from fellow Christians.
A few years ago, when my grandson was studying music at his university, the local churches would hire some of the college musicians to perform on special occasions. On one such occasion our family attended the service of a well know main line denominational church. Much to our surprise, when the pastor began to speak, his sermon was centered around his family cat's household maneuvers. Not once did the pastor quote or read any scripture.
One of the greatest misconceptions, giving Christianity a bad name, is what I call the " Sunday Religion" syndrome. That is living like the Devil during the week , then being suddenly and maliciously transformed to Christianity on Sunday morning (James 1:19-20).
If only our fellow church members would act the same, when they see us Christians outside of the church. as they do on Sunday morning. Often times, one may have an occasion to run into a fellow church member out in public, only to be obviously and purposely snubbed. This fellow church member will even go out of their way, in changing grocery store isles, not to have to speak. It's like the insulted party has suddenly succumbed to the plague (Proverbs 15:1) .
Then, there are those who make it rather obvious , even inside the close confines of the church sanctuary. Individuals will be standing and talking with someone else during the "meet and greet" segment of the service, when another church member will come up, give a friendly greeting to the one, with whom the person is talking, only to completely ignore the other party (James 2:1).
Next, there is the "Busy Body" syndrome. You know the one, the church member who has the time to talk about all the faults of the church, only to leave out the most important priority of witnessing for the gospel (Matthew 28:19-20).
Next, we have t the "Gossiper" syndrome. Those who can't wait to spread rumors about a fellow church member, before checking out the story. Once a falsehood it is said, it is said and cannot be taken back. If one speaks in judgment of another, in public, or even privately, without the purpose of helping that person, then that person is a disgrace to the family of Christ (1 Peter 3:10)
Next, there's the " I'm Better Than You" syndrome. A fellow church member, who speaks ill of another, only, by making fun of someone because they're fat, not pretty, smart or well-off, as they them self, show their true color . After all, all us humans are made in God's likeness and image (Genesis 1:27). This syndrome only makes a fellow church member appear cruel (Proverbs 24:28).
And the greatest detrimental church scenario, in my opinion, is the false doctrine teachings. Teachings outside of scripture (2 Timothy 3:16). These teachings include, but are not limited to; Teaching that the Bible is not inspired and inerrant (2 Timothy 3:16). Using books instead of the Bible in Bible study (Acts 17:11). Teaching that there is more than one way to God (John 14:6). Teaching that there is no absolute right and wrong (Exodus 20:1-17). Being careful to not offend anyone at the expense of biblical truth (1 Cor 8:13). Not condemning the sins of society (Romans 3:23). Use of politically correct terms of the world from the pulpit, rather than preaching the gospel (Romans 1:16). Going to church just as a social habit (Hebrews 10:25). Prayer as a last resort (1 Thess 5:16-18). Missionaries not sent out or supported (Matt 28:18-20)
Therefore, do these "bad church behavior" syndromes build up the body of Christ, or bring it down ? Do these actions cause people who do not know Christ to want to learn of Him. I think you know the answer (Colossians 3:12-14) .
All of these symptoms of bad church etiquette, reminds me of the case where our Lord wrote in the sand. Please read (John 8:1-11). Just remember the old cliché, "You are the only Bible some people read".
Yes, oftentimes we give Christianity a bad name, and we may push people away from the gospel, instead of bring them to Christ. God forbid that I would do so. You see, God loves us all, in spite of ourselves, and He desires more of his Children than we my currently represent. Never give up simply because you messed up. Instead use your mistakes, as a source of encouragement, so that you may encourage others.
So, why did I feel lead to write this eye catching blog ? Because when I look in a mirror, it looks back. The world may expect our perfection that can never be. Only The Lord is perfect. Should we not strive anyway to be the best we can be for His sake. Yes indeed.
Author's Post Script
What is meant by the term "Christian" ? This phrases is used three times in the New Testament (Acts 11:26) (Acts: 26:28) ( 1 Peter 4:16). Followers of Jesus Christ were first called “Christians” in Antioch (Acts 11:26) because their behavior, activity, and speech were like Christ. The word “Christian” literally means, “belonging to the party of Christ” or a “follower of Christ.”
Sad to say, over time, the word “Christian” has lost a great deal of its significance and is often used of someone who is religious or has high moral values but who may or may not be a true follower of Jesus Christ.
The Bible plainly teaches that the good works we do cannot make us acceptable to God. (Titus 3:5). So, a Christian is someone who has been born again by God (John 3:3) (John 3:7) (1 Peter 1:23) and has put faith and trust in Jesus Christ, through God's free grace. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Yes, the mark of a true Christian is love for others and obedience to God’s Word (1 John 2:4, 10). A true Christian is indeed a child of God, a part of God’s true family, and one who has been given new life in Jesus Christ. And a true Christian is a Christian 24/7. What about you, my friend ?
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