"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Thoughts on the Church

"The church is a group of judgmental mudslingers. They seem to really like picking fights with others. Whether it is homosexuals, or other religions, or even with each other. That's the weirdest part. Jesus said to love one another, but you're always hearing how the church even fights among themselves and with other denominations. But this isn't anything new. Look at the Crusades. The church has always been an angry bunch." -- Gary's thoughts on the church as quoted in They Like Jesus, but Not the Church (pg. 99)

"You Christians really hate homosexuals, don't you?" --- a nonChristian seventh-grader attended a youth meeting and the youth pastor reported that this was his impression about the church. Not "You Christians really love each other," "you Christians really look out for the poor and stand up for the oppressed," not even "you Christians are so weird for trying to bless and pray for and do good things for your enemies." (pg. 103)

I continue to be challenged by the book I began a couple days ago. Which true followers of Jesus wouldn't be saddened to realize these are the impressions some in the emerging generation have of Christians based on what they see in our churches and among "our" (and I use that term loosely) leaders?

The author states that we are often known to be judgmental and negative and known more for what we are against politically than what we are for spiritually. He urges us to remember of all people in the world, we - who are promised abundant life through Christ - should be the most passionate about loving God, each other and those outside of the church. We should be known for serving God, others in the community, "helping the needy, looking out for the marginalized, and being good neighbors." (pg. 78) Instead we are often some of the most negative, joyless people in constant turmoil. Yes, life is tough, but isn't it tough for everyone? Shouldn't there be a Christlike difference when He offers peace that passes all understanding for those who abide and rest in Him? When people see us do they see a difference that they would want? Do they see the inner joy and peace that only a relationship with Christ brings? If all they knew of Jesus was what they saw in YOU yesterday or last week, would they want a life with Christ? *ahem* Sobering thought.

Perhaps this is why Paul urges us to rejoice in the Lord always and in everything give thanks and to not be anxious about anything, but to present our requests to God with thanksgiving! Apparently God wants His followers to be thankful, joyful people even when life isn't going our way! In fact when life is hard and people around you know it, they are likely more impressed at your abundant joy and peace because that's not normal ... it's Jesus reflecting in you!

What a challenge for today. For my life. Yikes!

“But historians of religion like to say that Christianity was born in the Middle East as a religion, moved to Greece and became a philosophy, journeyed to Rome and became a legal system, spread through Europe as a culture–and when it migrated to America, Christianity became big business.” -- the late Senate Chaplain Richard Halverson

This was also quoted in this book. Perhaps it explains why Christians don't make the difference that they are supposed to in this world. Maybe we have made Christianity into a business rather than a life-changing relationship with Almighty God. Businesses don't give us joy, but abiding in Christ sure does!

Maybe we are negative and judgmental because we aren't abiding in Him. Have we strayed from our loving Shepherd? Hmmm.


Amber said...

It's funny, I came across something similar to the second paragraph on a Muslim blog yesterday. She related an encounter between herself and a teenager on a bus. The girl knew about niqab, but had no idea whether or not Muslims worshiped one god, any god, multiple gods. She only knew what she saw, no one was getting the right message out.

People (not everyone, but enough) watch the news, they watch televangelists, etc. and *that* is there impression of Christianity. And since many kids aren't getting raised in a faith, that's all they know. 'Christians hate X, Y, Z'. All they know of Christianity is what it hates (or what certain charismatic tv people *say* it hates) - they never learn that it's not about condemning others. And they wander off and find a religion, or no religion, that doesn't demand they hate every other person they meet. I can't really blame them, either.

Amber said...

*cough* Also, first comment twice in a row!

Jessica said...

I have always believed that we are each entitled to our own opinions and our own thoughts but it is only God's place to judge...

I think this is my first time to your blog, feel free to stop by and say hello at my blog as well...feel free to follow my blog as well.

Have a GREAT day! :)

Susanne said...

Amber, I totally agree. If I were not a Christian already, I don't know if I would choose it for myself based on the very things you mentioned. :-/

Jessica, great to have you here. I tried twice to load your blog and saw the header (very cute!), but can't scroll down the page. My up-and-down side arrows disappear from my screen when I visit your blog. Weird.

Carmen S. said...

I've read this post and have been thinking about it. Still thinking. LOL

I wish that Christians were known for their love, rather than for what they disapprove of.

Some of it, we earn. Part of it, is the world being judgmental and defensive and believing how Christians are portrayed in the media.

For every crazy "Christian", I know several amazing Chris followers.

Susanne said...

Carmen, I agree ... I know more GOOD ones than crazy ones, but it's how we are perceived by outsiders, I guess. Kind of like some people will lump all Muslims as terrorists. I guess it's a lesson for us to not jump to conclusions about people just because they belong to a certain group (e.g. religion, ethnicity, nationality).

Thanks for stopping by! Enjoyed your comments as usual!