Regarding what were professing Christians recently published by several as now “no longer Christians” or “leaving the church” I offer the following thoughts. But first for consideration, I don’t often quote Pink Floyd but when I do: http://www.songlyrics.com/pink-floyd/on-the-turning-away-lyrics/
In light of genuine, actual injustices and associated pain suffered from involvement with (at least professing) Christians and “the church”, I about fell out of my chair upon reading four short verses the other day:
Colossians 1.3-6 3 We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints; 5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel 6 which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth
Of course, if there is no God, no gathering of Christians worth being part of, no truth, no real hope in any of this, if everything is always about you, your feelings and your personal sense of justice -only-… don’t bother, you’re already wasting your time by reading further. Your own attitude of self-righteousness is all you got. Live there and let me know if you find love, life and peace in your cemented position.
Being hurt, misjudged, horribly treated and indeed trashed by “Christian people” and/or any organized/disorganized professing local group of them (“the church”) is as old as Adam and Eve bringing all of that and more to God (and depending on your theological take) -even to the entire human race.
The kicker- “… YOUR love for ALL THE SAINTS”… woah. How are you, I, we doing with this? Can that really be said about us? Isn’t love the point, the core, the issue? I don’t mean tacit agreement mind you… but true love for all and in particular, who name Jesus as their Lord. Hmmmm…
This blog is NOT about being against true, legit, actual or even political power-mongering and abuse in or around Christianity because as I just said, Adam and Eve and right down to you and I dear reader, are complicit in that “all have sinned”, “none is righteous”, “Christ died once for all, the godly for the ungodly” and on it has gone and goes right through Christian and world history! There is no historical pristine, “church” because there have never been now or ever any perfect, sinless people -which does not provide excuse nor nullification of responsibility. We will all stand before the judgment seat of God, The Bible states that plainly.
What I am pushing back against is not political positions that are often judged unpatriotic or anathema by hard right-wing believers… (and I have been very, very left of center for decades) rather I’m seeing even in these on-the-surface “unrelated” texts something each and all of us ought to ponder in terms of our attitudes towards God, His people and that of course includes “the church” in whatever manifestation -like it, hate it, seemingly in error or in your and my judgment truly sound in doctrine and conduct- no matter.
So to ponder:
v. 3 Do we live in a thankful or angry, perhaps even vengeful, attack mode towards other Christians? Are we praying “for our enemies” -even if they inhabit the churches??!
v. 4 No doubt, IF you hear of other’s faithfulness (as opposed to UNfaithfulness), and if you recognize their love for other Christians, that is something to consider and thank God for. Are ALL professing Christians idiots, crazy, in error, without any real redemption via Jesus shed blood… or is it only those you and I LIKE who we figure are likely to be genuinely saved, one of His Own?
v. 5 I recently asked a friend about hope, at core about the Truth of The Gospel… and there are many who have always, now and in the future shall come to decide for any number of reasons that there really is none to be found, perhaps in the Person of Christ, in His Church, in the very Bible which proclaims the Gospel in human language, that being Jesus and His death, resurrection and GOOD NEWS. So for some, this is a wash, a non-reality, and that deficit in their life is indeed a hole and chasm that means they will not identify with the only Savior (He proclaimed Himself that in many, many texts) and with ease, NOT part of “THOSE people” who claim to be His but act like demons. Nothing surprising about this but truly sad and possibly eternal in the ramifications of such.
So in light of religious nazi-like behavior, do we respond with silence each and every time? No. NO. Do we scream bloody murder? Yes but I would say before we swing some sort of sword the question is how close are we to demonizing demonized people… remembering we may well have been that in our own past? Until last breath a person may well come to repent. What sort of evangelists are we, or have we already judged them hell-bound and not worth the effort to reach out in love with truth and gospel to the churched lost -as well as the unchurched lost or at times, very much straying?
So- no hope here, neither Jesus nor His gospel (which “the church” proclaims, broken, scattered, sinful as we are right through history). And “truth’? Like Pilate we may wash our hands with the attitude, mind and public statement which equals “What is truth”? This has all been done before and shall be done until He folds the world up like a scroll.
Finally, v. 6 Perhaps the saddest thing here is the lack of actual knowledge, then wisdom, and all this in part via experience of the GRACE of God in Christ. Certainly horrible treatment by “Christians” and “the church” gives a person a sense of “truth.” But does one carry truth with grace or bitterness? “WHAT good news?? These people are anything BUT reflections of the one they claim as their Lord and Savior!” -and I GET THAT BIGTIME.
So the option is?? The optionS are??
I will repeat what I’ve said for years- if you did with either Jesus or “the church” (whoever the church is/was) the same with marriage, a social club, workplace, band, sports team or in any other relationship… what? You’d never risk linking with anyone ever again due to hurt, pain, struggle. Really? That’s how you’re living? And you call that life because it has “the integrity of” unforgiveness, sans grace, sans your own need to repent and truly follow Jesus and in love, obey HIS commands re. your relationships to others?
When you jettison faith, grace, forgiveness and relationship (and that’s the package…) you perhaps are left with one option:
You find people as hurt, as victimized as you are and in time, oh yes, in time… you will find some of them are as mean, brittle, unforgiving, non-grace and truth-giving as anyone you hold harsh judgment against in the church ever was.
People are people. God is, and good news, truth and indeed changed hearts and behaviors (“a friend must show him/herself to be friendly”) don’t happen in a vacuum nor only amongst hurting people -who hurt themselves and others, often with the very same hurt they were hurt by.
Jesus Christ, His Word The Bible, and indeed what HE called “the church” isn’t going away, not now, not ever. HE said “The gates of hell will not prevail against it.” You don’t have to love an institution, but God literally commands us to love those within them.
This is not to say we individual Christians and entire local fellowships/denominations do not need to ever repent for anything -ALL HAVE SINNED isn’t merely past tense in the real world!! I have preached and acted daily (yes) in repentance and confession my entire walk with the Lord. I must for my own sense of sanity, integrity and desire for closeness to Jesus.
But to say there is no hope, no truth, and no real church is simply in the end, a cop-out and a lie.
The fact is, you dear reader are neither God, your own church, nor can you experience lasting hope and truth by other means than via honest, humble relationship with the true God. Disdaining Israel will not heal Israel’s backsliding where and when it has and does. Likewise the church/es. To pretend they are all without value flies in the faith of Jesus’ death for them -and you.
“Without hope and without God in the world” is a place I lived. I do not choose to live there and have not for many years. Why?
I’m a full-on Matthew chapter 25 social justice activist who does his best to repent and clean up his own daily sin, forgiving those who sin (truly or in my own view) against me. It’s not rocket science.
God help you though you walk with a limp!
As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn