Hello everyone! I was going to name my blog
Why the American Church is not Ready for the Lost, Broken, and Addicted. As I thought more about this today, I realized I can’t share with fellow believers what is wrong without offering a solution. Afterall, I love the Church and I love my fellow believers. May I never point out a wrong without pointing out a redemptive solution as well.
First, I want to start with why we aren’t ready for those who need Jesus most then I will provide some very simply, redemptive solutions for changing this for the whole Church. The problems and solutions for the Church apply to us collectively and individually in many ways so I may step on some toes and that is okay. I write to glorify the name of Jesus and advance Kingdom purpose; not to tickle ears, point the spotlight at me or make people feel good about themselves when they should be examining themselves. Please stick with me. Let us begin.
The Church is not ready to fulfill its Kingdom mission to reach those who are literally dying to know Jesus because we are too busy doing four things that I believe honestly break the heart of God: 1) Chasing politics 2) Chasing (and worshipping) our version of celebrities 3) Holding to tradition 4) A lack of gender reconciliation You might be asking yourself at this point, “how are we, as a church, doing these things? I’ve never heard it put this way before.” I promise not to leave you wondering. I will explain each one briefly and then I will move on to redemptive solutions to these wrongs. Chasing Politics
I have never seen this more prevalent than I do now. Evangelical Christianity is not about Jesus’ mission in the earth anymore, it’s about which political party we’re going to snuggle up to, in fact it’s been turning more political than spiritual in the last 30 years. We know we do not serve a political God so why on earth have we turned to a political party to solve our problems? Did it ever occur to us that politics, by its definition, is the jockeying of position to achieve power? Is the gospel about worldly or national power? No, it is about Kingdom power. Kingdom power is the power to walk in love, walk in truth and be at peace with your fellow man. It transcends all other power and is above all other power on the face of this planet. I know I probably just hurt someone’s feelings. That was not my intent. My intent was to point out how skewed the Gospel, which also transcends political ideals, will become to our world if this trajectory continues. We will be rendered ineffective and no different than any other idea that ever came along to influence humankind. Have you also considered that the political party of Evangelicalism may not actually align with scripture and Jesus’ teachings? Have you ever considered that political parties may wish to control the Church through affiliation? What do we do with that? Church, who do you serve, Jesus or man? Chasing (and worshipping) Our Own Versions of Celebrities
Last I checked, we were to only have one God, and his name is Jesus Christ. Meanwhile, we are busy chasing this pastor and that Christian entertainer and putting them on pedestals they can’t handle much less maintain. We have Christian leaders who are unaccountable because they’d rather be worshipped. We have Christian entertainers who want to be applauded, all the while living out their secret sins because they too have no accountability – the recent events with John Crist, among others, speak to this. Not only are they not being held accountable, I believe many do not fully know or understand their role as leaders in the church nor do they understand how much God loves them and the role of grace in leadership. We have young believers in the faith who have not had the time to develop character being elevated to positions they can’t handle or don’t know how to and no one to disciple them or mentor them. And we, as the flock, keep chasing them instead of chasing Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. And we wonder why the fall and make the Gospel a scandal? Our shepherds are not looking to The Shepard (Jesus) and neither are the sheep. Holding to Religious Tradition
We’ve heard enough about religious tradition and law to kill us Church, and it is killing us! We’ve got entire denominations basing the annals of their faith on anything but grace and the New Covenant. It’s law and rules with too many don’ts and not enough dos. Such things allow for abuses of power within the church and abuses of power within our homes. These religious traditions have hamstringed men, women (which I will specifically address next) and children for generations! The Old Testament was never meant to be the main covenant, it was simply a shadow of the New Covenant and a very good descriptor of how God did not want his children to function with each other or in this world! Jesus came to restore everything we see after the fall of Adam and Eve with the New Covenant, everything – including male/female relations and leadership roles of both in the family and in the church. A Lack of Gender Reconciliation
I’m going to go ahead and warn you. I’m going to hurt feelings and step on toes again. If we don’t deal with the lack of gender reconciliation in the Church, it’s going to make us irrelevant to our culture and not any different from other religions in the world where male/female reconciliation does not exist. Women and children suffer when there is lack of gender reconciliation – just look at ISIS as an extreme example. Women are not allowed to function in their God-given (not man-given) leadership and preaching/teaching roles where there is no gender reconciliation. Where there is a lack of gender reconciliation, there is also power imbalances that again, work with religious tradition to allow abuse of power in the church and in the home in marriage and family relationships. There is no such thing as gender roles in the Bible – this is a false teaching of man tied to religious tradition and much scripture misinterpretation and twisting. Religious tradition and lack of gender reconciliation are closely aligned and sicknesses within the church that Jesus is exposing and overcoming. Get ready! In Christ, there is neither male nor female! Redemptive Solutions Chasing Politics
The Church must not align itself with any political party as the early Church did not such thing. It must be willing to speak out to either political party when they go against the precepts of the Gospel. The Gospel is our road map. The Gospel is the policy of the Church, not the political ideals of the Republican and Democratic party. Christian leaders must speak out against wrong in the political arena, regardless of who is doing the wrong, and encourage the Church to be active in the political process without too closely aligning itself with the ideologies of humankind. Yes, we can vote. Yes, we can have convictions. Our leaders must not tell us who to vote for, but instead encourage us to listen to the Holy Spirit about all things related to the issues of our country and our fellow man. God is not the god of the Republican Party nor the god of Democratic party. His ways are higher! Let our ways be higher! Chasing (and worshipping) Our Own Versions of Celebrities
We have one God; his name is Jesus Christ. Let us return our focus to Him and to His heart for this nation and our world. Let us teach, disciple and hold accountable our leaders before releasing them to congregations or into ministries they aren’t ready for from a character perspective. Let us simply hold our leaders and other well-known Christian entertainers accountable in everything they do. Let us not be slow to deal with issues of character or issues of sin that harm others. Pray for our leaders and pray for our Christian entertainers – they too are men and women who can make mistakes. Let us not confuse mistakes with outright unrepentance and manipulation, which can’t be tolerated. Let us allow room for grace, sincere repentance and redemption both for our leaders and our entertainers. Holding to Religious Tradition
To break the hold of religious tradition, we must get back into our Bibles and really understand the New Covenant. We must understand all Jesus died to redeem! He died to set us free and redeem us from the curse of the law and tradition. He died to set us free from corrupt world systems. He died to set use free from lies. He died to set us free anything that would divide men and women both in leadership and in the family. He died to set us free from the conditions and repercussions of the fall of Adam and Eve. His love has already won for us Church! Let go of those traditions, you don’t need them. They are like old wine skins and God is doing something new! A Lack of Gender Reconciliation
Paul said there is neither male nor female in Christ. We must let go of our tradition and gender roles Church – these do not allow men or women to function in the giftings God has placed in them. God calls women to preach, teach and lead just as he calls men. The gospels and the New Testament (our New Covenant) are full of women who Paul, Timothy and others identified as leaders in the church, home and community. We’ve got to return our marriages to what Jesus intended before the fall, remember we are free from the effects of the fall in Christ. Men and women alike can lead their homes under the headship of Jesus Christ who is the head of everything! Men and women must submit to one another just as Paul charged us in Ephesians. If these things were good enough for the New Testament church in the past, they are good enough for us today Church and they are life to us! Let us return to what Jesus intended and throw off everything that has enslaved us to tradition and fallen societal expectations. The good news Church is there is grace and we still have time to make things right! All is not lost! As I wrote last week the God-train is in motion to do some strategic things in the coming months and years. We can be the place for the broken, the lost, the addicted and the hurting! Let’s get our houses straight! Let’s drop our pretenses and our tradition! Let’s be authentic with each other. Let’s let them see the Gospel for what it really is and Jesus for who He really is! Let there be no darkness in us as there is no darkness in Him! He greatly desires to know them! Let us point the way to the Light as we are Light.
Matthew 5:14; “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.” Love, Elizabeth