Monday, June 13, 2011

What Good Is The Modern Church?

I have been wondering for a long while just what good the current church system is.  Now don't get me wrong - I am not new to the faith, I cut my teeth practically on a church pew, so I've been around it for almost my entire soon to be 42 years of life.  While I admit that this christian walk has not been done very well by me, it has not been until recently that I really started questioning just who/what this Christianity thing should really be/look like.  What I am discovering is that we are Americanized christians, NOT Biblical christians. 

Several weeks ago, I attended a graduation and I was "people watching".  Having lived in this town my entire life, I saw many people I knew, many people who attended a local church, but as I was watching people, I saw afresh what God had shown me a couple of years ago.  There is nothing different about the people who call themselves Christians and those who don't claim christianity at all.  This was also the same weekend that the false prophet was claiming the rapture would be taking place by 6 pm on a Saturday night (the exact date eludes me right now, but I'm sure you all remember it - it was all over the news).  Of course, 6 pm came and went and no rapture took place.  But I felt the Lord dropped something into my heart that night as I was people watching.  When the rapture does take place it is going to be a very sad day for most "Christians".  Matthew 7:21-23 says:
 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
As I have been thinking about this over the past few weeks, it has gripped my heart in such a way that I cannot think about it without grieving.  When/how did the church become nothing more than a social club?  Why is sin condoned in our churches?

I grew up in church and one that was pretty strict as a rule, but rules did not keep sin out of hearts.  Of course, I didn't realize a lot of it until I became an adult.  Shortly after I was married and we moved into our first house, our neighbor and I were talking and he asked me if I was part of the local wife swapping club?  I didn't even understand what he was talking about - that's how naieve I was.  Then he proceeded to tell me names of people in the local First Baptist Church who were part of it, names of prominent buisness people I had known of my entire life!  I was shocked!  That was just the beginning of the unveiling however....  my brother worked for a local farmer who would cuss like a sailor then say he had to get home to study for his Sunday School class.  The local lawyer in town is known to be a crook and also an "upstanding member of the local First Baptist Church".  He and several cohorts (also fine members of same church) steal cattle and one of them is also a Sunday School teacher.  But it isn't just in one church.  The Christian Church has had some members attending for years who are divorced from their spouses because of their affair.  They still attend and act like there is nothing wrong with their affair and, in fact, one even stated that God was okay with her divorce because her husband drank (though he never was abusive to her or their children).  So, let me see if I get this right.... God approves of extramarital affairs but not drinking?  And the local Methodist church had a piano player who lived with her spouse for 2 years before they got married and their current worship leader is living with his girlfriend - no plans to marry as of yet.  And those are just the "biggies" that everyone in town knows and talks about.

But what about the homes of these people who call themselves Christians?  Most of the people that I know who attend church have been attending for years, but what do their lives show for it?  Very seldom do you see a woman or even a young girl dressing modestly.  Marriages and homes are totally dysfunctional but bless God, they attend church so they are Christians.  Is this what Scripture teaches?  In the OT, multiple times God instructed the children of Israel to occupy/overtake a land that He gave them, but He told them to NOT take on the ways of the pagan culture.  But time and time again, His people would convert to the ways of the pagans.  God's anger would be kindled and He would send hard times their way and then in their distress they would repent, turn back to the ways of God and walk in victory again.  But it never lasted long.  They would always begin to conform to the ways of the culture they were living in. Doesn't this sound like the church you attend?  I see nothing that separates the churchgoer from the nonchurchgoer.  In fact, I think some nonchurchgoers are more honest and upright than many of the people I go to church with.

How can someone "get saved" and quit the obvious sins, such as drinking, smoking, partying, but still treat his wife harshly with his words and actions?  How can you "get saved" and nothing about your attitude or work ethic change?  How can you "get saved" and continue to have adulterous relationships?  How can you "get saved" and practice ways to cheat people?  And NEVER feel convicted? 

This may be harsh, but pastors are not preaching or teaching the true Word of God if people's lives are not being changed.  God describes for us what the symptoms of a lukewarm church are in Revelation and He also tells us what He does with those people - he vomits them out of His mouth.  (Read Revelations 3 for yourself and see if you see yourself in it).

Bottom line for me is this - the church in America has become so far removed from what God established and what Christ died for, that I have serious doubts about how staggering the rapture really will be to the world we live in, or maybe I should say to America.  Will we even notice when it happens?  I think the churches are still going to be as full as they are now.  What?  You say that God is a God of grace and mercy?  I believe He is a God of grace and mercy too, but I also believe He is a Holy and a Just God and His Word tells us too many times what He expects out of His children.  After all, the price for our entrance to Heaven was very dear to God - it was the life of His Son, not only His death, but the staggering beating He took, the shame, and the humiliation He endured, all paid so that we could have eternal life in Heaven instead of hell.  Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think so based on Matthew 7, but if I'm wrong, I still get to go to heaven according to the current church's practices.  But if I'm right, then it really will be a sad day when the rapture takes place. 

And lest you think I am just pointing fingers at certain individuals, I am not.  I have been utterly convicted of my American christianity and I long to be a child that God can be proud of and one that will be truly welcomed into His kingdom, hearing Him say, "Well done, my good and faithful servant."  Don't you want to do everything you can to be in that place too and not being told He doesn't even know who you are?  As I have pondered this over the past few weeks, my heart has broken.  No longer can I just sit back and "hope" that my friends and family are "good enough" to get to Heaven.  God's Word is TRUE and we can trust Him to do just what His Word says, and He has already shown us how much he loves us by sending His own Son to pay the price for our sin.  We can show Him how much we love Him by how obedient we are to following His ways.

I pray for you.  I pray for us all.

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