What has happened to the church these days? Where is the true body of Christ? Where is the power of the church? Where are the standards that used to be in play? Is the church Jesus ordained when He said in Matthew 16:18 “And on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”? Have we lost our way? Why do we see so little influence of the church on society?
I personally feel there has just been entirely too much compromise on the part of the American Church. Too much wanting to be like the world, to attract those from the world. Christianity has become ‘easy’ if you will, to its adherents, with almost no call to holiness, reverence for God, abstinence from sin, repentance from sin and a life called out of the world devoted to God and His purposes. It starts with men and women of God preaching the unerring truth without compromise. Who cares if few respond or if we take heat from the primordial mass of contemporary Christians who like their secular lifestyle only frosted with just enough Jesus to tickle their consciences. It’s about preaching the truth, standing on the truth and living out that truth. Only then, will the church walk in the power it’s supposed to wield. This comfy brand of faith running amok nowadays is honestly sickening. I have seen so many as of late, ‘falling away’ from the church back into hedonistic lifestyles, drugs and atheism, primarily because what they thought was salvation in Christ, was merely attending the local Christian country club, called church. When church is so comfortable that the world isn’t uncomfortable in the church, there is a problem.
“Preach the truth, but preach it, doing so in love.” Doesn’t that sound sweet and oh so Christ like. Do so in love. Let us love everyone. God is love…Hogwash I say!! Yes God is love but true love is not just all Hollywood romance and gushy-mushy affection. It also includes discipline, judgement and temperance in action. How about, “Preach the truth because you love.” Messages today are so watered down because we don’t want to offend anyone. Don’t want anyone to dislike us. Don’t want anyone to disagree with us. Don’t want anyone to leave the church because of what was said. Is this Biblical? Absolutely not! Jesus preached a hard message-so hard in fact, that as recorded in the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel, almost all the disciples were even walking away and leaving. Why? Because what Jesus preached was offensive to the flesh of man. It didn’t sit right with the way people thought things should be. And guess what? Jesus didn’t go running after them, chasing them down to come back. He didn’t change His message so they wouldn’t be offended. No, He preached the truth. Why? Because anything less is simply that. LESS. It castrates the life-changing power of the Gospel message. It becomes a man-centered Gospel rather than a God-centered Gospel. A man-centered gospel is really no gospel at all (Gat 1:7) but rather a Frankenstein construct which good on the outside, feels nice to the touch, but is rotted underneath. Jesus warned of such things in his diatribe to the Pharisees. He called them ‘whitewashed tombs full of dead men’s bones’. We can color up the outside all we want but if it’s not what God ordained, it is still rotted and dead on the inside, and ultimately worth nothing.
I remember back some twenty-plus years ago when I first gave my life to the Lord. It was during a set of youth revival services in an Assembly of God church. The services were for 3-4 days straight, every night. The messages were straight forward and convicting, aimed at the spiritual ‘gut’ of each person. There weren’t fancy light and smoke systems back then, no black backdrops, not fancy high-end rock band worship…none of that. It was in a youth group of 150 or so, with a guitarist, keyboard and singer. The songs simply glorified God. They exalted the creator of the Universe. They magnified the Lord! They didn’t try to sound like the mainstream music of the day. The lights in the service weren’t dropped to create a ‘mood’ so to speak. No, the lights were on. And when the sermon was preached, there was a level of reverence and holiness that was present. The pastor didn’t let people get up and down to go to the bathroom during service, distracting others. There wasn’t chatting going on. There wasn’t disrespect for God during worship as everyone stood but some tried to sit (disrespecting the King of Kings and Lord of Lords). “Stand up and worship the Lord!!” When an altar call was given, it wasn’t tossed out there like some ‘take it or leave it’ option, for wishy-washy people to possibly toy with the idea of ‘maybe, trying this God-thing out’. People were called to stand up and acknowledge their decision for Christ before everyone. No hiding in the back, with lights dimmed to almost absolute darkness, with just their little pinky finger ever so slightly angling upwards in some half-hearted, non-offensive, weak attempt to acknowledge their need for God. No, God’s presence thundered in those meetings…and also in every weekly meeting. People got truly saved. People repented before the Lord. This wasn’t the local coffee house down the street with the latest decorating fads and a pastor wearing the latest trending dubs. This was God’s house, holding a meeting to worship the very author of man himself. This was services to honor the Lord and see the miracle working power of the cross enacted upon the lives of young people. This was preaching the Gospel as it should be. Men and women trembled in the presence of God, weeping under the spirit of God, as they repented of what? wait for it…SIN!
Sin isn’t even called sin today. In many churches, it’s called ‘mistakes’ or areas in life where we ‘mess up’. Proverbial ‘bumps in the road’ if you will. C’mon!!! 2 Timothy 4:2-4 calls out our mandate because it clearly warns of a day when the church, won’t look like the church, and men and women of God must preach the Word of God in its fullness without compromise. Maybe it’s one person standing up. Maybe it’s two. It starts with each individual who recognizes the need for the church to arise. The need for the uncompromising Gospel of Christ to be preached in its fullness, regardless of what people say or how much they disagree or claim we aren’t being ‘politically correct’. (Political correctness is also death to the church but another topic for another day). We need to stand fast, preach truth and let the Spirit of God bring forth the results. We need to stop trying to be men pleasers and start being God pleasers. We can’t worry about the quantity in the church, we need to worry about the quality of those in the church. The Word states ‘where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am amidst them.’ It doesn’t take thousands, it takes a few willing to walk the line of the Word of God and stand firm. As the world decays, the true church needs to stand up and be accounted for. I for one choose to preach uncompromising truth regardless of the outcome, regardless of who likes me, regardless of who is offended. Not just for the sake of being rude or offensive but rather, because the Gospel in itself is already offensive (Galatians 1:10, 5:11). It’s foolishness to the world. It states that what it does is wrong. This is what Jesus did. This is what Jesus said. John 7:7 “The world cannot hate you but it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil.” No more compromise. No more games. Let’s be the church that Jesus has empowered us to be!!!!