What is the church largely known for today?
What are Christians largely known for today?
When I see the church today, in the UK, the general public perception, what gets reported is all negative. Division, hypocrisy, judgmentalism.
When I talk to atheists I know they call Christians hypocrites.
The problem is, that these things are true. The church is fighting over contraception, over homosexuality and some sections of the church or pastors are calling others heretics. The people who go to those churches or listen to those pastors think exactly the same.
This is not good. This is not what Jesus had in mind. This is not the church. This is not Christianity. This is not something worth living for or dying for.
Why is it this way? Why do we just accept passively what is going on?
What was Jesus known for? Love. Forgiveness. Healing. Justice. Truth. Standing up for the oppressed. Believing in people who thought they were worth nothing. He gave people hope and a promise of the future.
Now the church is the body of Christ. The Bible says so. We are Jesus' representatives on this planet. When people look at us, when people look at the church, whatever they see will be their impression of Jesus. It will be their impression of the faith we profess. How we live, what we say, what we do, our lifestyle and attitudes will be what people perceive Jesus' to be.
At the moment people see a Jesus who is negative, judgemental, self-righteous and divided against itself. Paul said that no kingdom can stand when its divided amongst itself. He meant the kingdom of the devil, but the underlying warning is that the church should never be divided amongst itself. It cannot be. How can it grow?
Its like different parts of the 'body' are not functioning together, they are functioning separately, against each other. Now you and I know no body can function properly if that is happening. The church is the same.
Things need to change. We need to change. If everyone makes the same changes then we can make a difference.
Forget our pride. Forget dogma. Forget having to be right all the time. Accept that we have differences, but look to a common ground. Look at the Bible, and see what are the most important values are.
I can tell you before you look. Love your neighbour as yourself. Love the Lord with all your mind, soul, heart and strength. Jesus said these are the two greatest commandments. They are above all others, and all others come underneath them.
Jesus way is not a religion. Its not a tradition. Its not legalistic. Its an attitude, its a way of life. Its a different set of values, which must be displayed through action. Poverty, injustice, oppression, homelessness, drugs, alcohol, consumerism - all are things we must be acting against. We must be taking the lead in fighting the big problems in the world. United. Together.
This has been said before, but we need to show them a Jesus who is about love, sacrifice, serving, justice, truth and forgiveness. When people see who Jesus really is, then they see something good. Something compelling.
Its our responsibility. Its a big challenge.
But Jesus believes in us. He believes we are up to it. He warns to help us. He has given us talents. He's given us personality, He's given us freedom to choose rightly.
Being a Christian isn't easy. I often don't feel much like a Christian, to be honest. But its the right way, its the best way. We need to live in a way which shows that. Nothing to do with religion or legalism. But a way of life, that we submit to happily, not because its easy but because its right and because we truly love Jesus and want to become like Him.
We can truly change the world. If we believe it. If we're willing to try. Jesus thinks we can. He's given us the abilities to. He's there to help us.
Lets show the world the real Jesus, so that in time people's perception of the church, of Christians is the true one. Is one which shows the Jesus that we know and read about it the Bible. Not a Jesus that reflects our own sinful nature, but one which reflects the what Jesus had in mind. A person worth following and a community that people want to be a part of.
It can happen. It starts with me and you.