Most modern churches these days all look the same. Or in a sense they try to, anyways.
Cool effects. If it’s a really cool church they’ll have smoke machines and the pastor will be dressed in ______.
Is there an emphasis on evangelism and outreach? Sure…why not? So churches will hold block parties to connect with the neighborhood. They’ll hold “come and see” events where you invite your friends to church a service so they can have a warm-fuzzy experience and see how great the church is. Somewhere along the line something was lost, though.
Throughout the Old and New Testament we see the theme of a people who stood out against the ills of society. Prophets called out kings. They challenged society. John the Baptist called out the infidelity and hypocrisy of Herod, the governor. Jesus called out the spiritual sins of the people. He rebuked those that took advantage of the innocent and disadvantaged. And in the first few centuries we saw a church that was willing to stand as a counter-society that was actually subversive to the empire. To that end they were willing to offend Caesar by proclaiming Jesus as Lord and be burned at the stake or be ripped apart by lions.
In essence, they were willing to challenge society and be different. I think the modern weakness of Christianity is that it longs to belong. To be one with society. To not stand out. To be accepted. To preach a soft-Jesus. It’s such a bland, weak, synthesized, and perverted sense of Christianity.
True Christianity involves calling people to Christ. Through His love, compassion, justice, forgiveness, and mercy we learn what it is to be a people who are called out. The problem is that some try to create a polarity in Christianity, as if doing the work of Jesus solely involves the act of proclamation of the gospel. The Bible doesn’t recognize such a polarity, though. The work of Jesus involved preaching to the masses as well as the disciples. He healed those who were untouchable. He defended and stood up for the weak and disadvantaged. Why did He do all this? To reveal the love of the Father, because God is love. When we do the work of Jesus fully, then, we’re representing what the gospel really is about, and what God is really like.
I know to some this probably sounds like some kind of weird fundamentalist rant. Believe me, nothing could be further from the truth. I guess I just can’t harmonize what I read in the New Testament with what I see in most churches these days. We so want to be loved and accepted that we’re willing to kiss the hand of Caesar and when no one is looking give Jesus a high-five.
[image by welshwitch36]