What damage has the church crowd done to it's own people? Not IS there any damage but what IS the damage toll? Pretty scary question, isn't it? Frankly, the injuries and fatalities associated with this subject are vast, far reaching. The church, as a group, would like to think they are doing a great job. Sadly, for the most part, this is not true. How do I know this? Let's explore that a bit.
Have you noticed how many people will tell you that the reason they do not go to church is because someone has hurt them there when they thought that the least likely place to find hurt? I remember a story a preacher told about an older teenager who, in his spare time, rebuilt cars to earn some money. Then one day he was invited to the local church. There was an altar call for those who had not known about Jesus Christ as a Savior. The teen responded. One of the elders took him by the hand and walked him up front to accept Jesus. Very nice picture, isn't it? That same elder cheated the teenager the very next day in a car deal. That brand new Christian never went back to church again. On his deathbed many years later, he finally came back to the Lord through a miracle of God. This is not a unique story. Happens all the time. We get broadsided by our own because we are not expecting it. Surely Christians would never do that to each other, they say! Or would they?
This is an honorless generation. People have no idea what that means, let alone how to operate within it. For instance, is it all right to tell a lie to someone because you don't want to hurt feelings? Of course NOT, but I will bet many of you thought it was okay. After all, you don't want to offend anyone, to unnecessarily hurt a loved one. Who does it hurt, after all? They think you like them and did a favor by complimenting them when it wasn't true. For starters, it's SIN. Did you know that the Lord sees all sin as the same? Little white lie and murder come in the same category. Surprised? Yet, there is no problem hurting others with thoughtless comments and actions, good intentions or not. In the end it will hurt you as well.
The bible has much to say about honor. Here are just a few examples:
Matthew 15:4, "For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death."
Pretty harsh statement. But God is serious about honor. Never forget that. Each time you decide that your parent is wrong and talk to them in any other way than love, no matter how misguided or mistaken they may be in your eyes, IT IS A SIN in God's eyes.
John 5:41-45, "I receive not honour from men. But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you. I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive. How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?"
Jesus is talking. He does not receive honor from men, but from God. Why? Because they refused to give it to Him. He explains that those folks want to honor each other for the sake of showing how "pious" a person they are, how "religious" they have become. That's what it's all about in some churches. The show. Dressed to the "nines" while that bum is sitting out front, hungry and filthy. No one stopping to help. In fact, they walk WAY around him so as not to get their new clothes messed up as they head piously into the sanctuary and, boy, does he stink! Sanctuary? For whom? Certainly not for the bum that's not invited to participate. The one who walks way around the bum probably does need the sermon more than the guy sitting on the curb since they are the ones not doing the right thing.
I respect the ministries that go out into the streets, in prisons, into the missions and halfway houses, where the unlovely are. They reach out to the society "throwaways". Wait a minute. Jesus had something to say about this.
Matthew 25:41-43, "Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not."
Am I trying to make you feel guilty? No way! Am I trying to wake you up? You bet. Perhaps it's time for the body of Christ to do an attitude check. Maybe it's also time for a little damage control. Is your church "exclusive" or can anyone, dressed in any manner come in, no matter how they smell? Would you give them your pew seat? Would you take them to find food, clothes, shelter? What about the new Christian? Are you helpful in their growth? Do you witness as told by the Lord Jesus or do you leave that to the socalled "pros?"
Do you know what your responsibility is, as a believer? Go to the Lord, pray, seek His Face. He is a gentle Person, compassionately correcting His children. We live under Grace, not condemnation. He forgives us our sins. Is it a person's fault they're in the condition they are in? Perhaps, perhaps not. However, it is not up to you to decide the condition of the person nor is it up to you to decide why they got that way. That is God's business. The tug on your heart that you felt as you walked past him into your church is from God. IF that person is in sin, God forgives that and changes things. Can we do less?
I have been reading many articles and see numbers of hurting people, many of whom were wounded by someone or something having to do with one church or another. Thoughtless people not caring enough to see to that child's needs. Members of a body of believers unwilling to lend a helping hand. That person who was treated badly grew up, people. Maybe it's you. Now, they hate Christians, the church, don't believe in Jesus, God, or whatever limitation they've put on themselves. Please get this!! These are LEARNED responses. No one is born that way. God puts in our hearts, from the beginning, a desire to be closer to Him and to seek Him out.
What went wrong? Fill in the blank. "That preacher told me not to do this. Then I see his kids doing worse." "The Sunday school teacher ignores me because I don't have nice clothes like the rest of the kids." "I felt left out because no one was willing to talk to me, even on my first day at their church. I don't go anymore." "Why should I go to church with those hypocrits when I can see them at the bar on Saturday night, getting drunker than I have ever been?" The sad fact is that there are so many more reasons and excuses just like this. Church is evil to some folks after that. Is it any wonder that folks hate it then?
Church, these things ought not to be so. Is it possible that the reason Jesus has not come back yet is because of these problems? Where is our LOVE for the unlovely and unloved? I know there are folks out there that are doing all they can do but at what cost? They have no help or very little. Why is that? Because the few do most of the work while the many sit like "couch potatoes" letting others labor. The excuses are vast. All the way from
1) that is my only day off so I do not want to go help anyone
2) I am too tired
3) God helps those who help themselves.
What a LIE of the devil that last one is. If you were to help yourself to the money at the bank even though you know it is not yours, does God help you do that? Ridiculous. God helps those who look to Him and those that call out to Him. He helps those who seek Him, whether they know it is Him they seek or not. So now what do we do?
Get involved in your church or ministry. Do something nice for someone you don't know. TELL someone about your Lord Jesus. Don't walk away. Help them do what others taught you to do. One of the things that really hurt my own walk with the Lord was that they wanted me saved but they didn't teach me how to BE a Christian. It took years of doing things by myself, walking away from the Lord or several occasions, then coming back. I was confused, unlearned, untaught. God finally got through to me and I started to grow spiritually. How many years of hurt and pain could have been saved if only IF ONLY someone had taken me by the hand, helping me to grow?
I encourage you to get involved right where you are. There are so many blessings in this if only you will participate instead of watching from the sidelines. And stop feeling condemned! Get out there and do something! It could be FUN! Think of what will happen if you are an influence on someone who comes to Jesus. What a blessing!
If you are in need of the Lord Jesus or are a believer but not living your life as you should be, please pray asking forgiveness for your sins. Then ask for Jesus to come into your heart. At that point, you are a new creation in Christ Jesus. Welcome to the family of the Lord. Now, take time to thank Him. After that, get a Bible and find a good church home. There are good ones out there!
If you are born again already but have not told anyone about Jesus, have not gotten involved in any way, please do so. I am not talking about just being an usher or bake a dish once for the church picnic. Really get your hands into a project. If that is working in the nursery so that newer Christians can hear the sermon, that would be great. If it's a simple job like taking out the trash at the church, then help there. If your church has an outreach program, get involved. Do not concern yourself with your own comfort. Extend yourself. God has been calling you to do your part for a long time. Listen and then do what He says. The blessings that go with this job are incredible.