It astounds me as I look around at the world and see so much evil, see so many hurting and crying out for help. Then I take a look at the 'inside' of our churches and see people who appear to be so happy and satisfied in their lives. I begin to wonder just where the gap is. Are we missing something, or have we found something that takes away our desperation and needs, and offers us hope that those on the outside seem to be lacking?
I know that the Sunday School Answer to that question is: Those people within the church have found their hope and happiness in the only One who can provide it, Jesus Christ. This would be an acceptable answer, however, if this is true then shouldn't those who have hope, the key to all their problems, share the 'Good News' with those on the outside? Aren't they called by the One who provides this 'New Element' in life to go and share this hope?
The answer is, yes they should! The question still remains then: Why does it seem as though this is not happening in most places? Why do we not see people desperate to share this hope? Why does it seem like there is so much indifference in the body of believers? Where does God and His will and word fit into this picture?
The truth of the matter so it seems, is that there really isn't much room for Jesus in our Christianity. How can this be? Well, how much of what we do in our lives and in the life of our churches really has do with Christ? How many of us can say that Jesus is truly the Lord of and over our lives and our churches?
Stagnation seems to be spreading in the lives of our churches and those 'Christians' who fill them. We have adopted what seems to be a consumeristic approach to how we do church. We work on providing what people want. We try to offer 'programs' for every age group in our churches. We have changed or transitioned from presenting an uncomfortable and offensive gospel, to presenting a more comfortable and non-offensive tips to living life. This is tragic! We seem to tell people what we perceive to be what they want to hear. What we fail to do as pastors and leaders is to teach them what they need to hear. We fear that if we tell them the truth, they will be offended and leave. So we tend to cater to what they want instead of what they need.
What we then develop is a safe and comfortable place for 'Christians' to settle in and feel at home. In doing this, we are sending the message that life and church is about us, and begin to develop a complacent attitude about our current situation.
(Side Note: Church is not only about non-believers. Church is also a place where Christians are discipled as well. This was not the point I was trying to make, but I feel as though I need to clarify my stance.)
The problem with this is that life and church is all about God and His glory. The church should be a place where those who do not know Christ should feel comfortable and welcomed. However, when we create an atmosphere just for Christians, those who are not feel like outsiders instead of welcomed and wanted guests.
It is of utmost importance that we stop creating comfortable places for Christians and begin to allow Christ to be the Lord of our churches and our lives. We need to create an environment that says, 'Come as you are, filth and all, and meet our Lord Jesus Christ.' Instead of being complacent and indifferent, we need to be desperate. People all around us need a Lord who is much bigger than them and their current circumstances. The only way they will be introduced to this Lord, is if we Christians begin to invest in peoples lives, and offer them the hope that we have found in Christ.
We should move back to proclaiming the uncomfortable and offensive gospel in love, and challenge one another to not be discouraged but begin to follow Christ and go where He went. It is certain that others will come to know Him and in the process we will see spiritual growth in our own lives and the Kingdom of God will grow numerically. Most important is that if we were to approach life like this, God will be glorified and honored. That is our ultimate goal as followers of Christ.