Friday, November 20, 2009

Ouch!

Too often in recent years I have heard people say something like this, "I could never bring the people I work with or go to school with or my neighbors to church, because it would seem so weird to them and I'm afraid it would do more harm than good." Ouch! I know that the first response to such a statement is to talk defensively about the offense of the gospel but I also know that in most instances that is not the problem. The problem is not the gospel and but archaic forms of expression, words that have lost their meaning, and just plain strange teachings that are at best peripheral to the gospel. Then when people ask for church recommendations it is embarrassing not to be able to give them many without qualifications as to what they can expect to find when they attend and what they will need to overlook if they are going to profit from the experience. This is not right.

Churches should be vibrant communities of Christians who love God and who are seeking to live out the gospel of Jesus Christ in their lives. There should not be a big disconnect between what they do and say on Sunday and how they live the rest of the week. Nor should it seem as if we are going back in time when we enter a church service. It is an interesting but discouraging exercise to listen to churchy lingo that flows from the lips of the initiated without any awareness that there are people in attendance who have no idea what they are talking about because no one, including the speaker, talks like that at any other time. It is all very strange.

Then there are those who add to the gospel their particular brand of political, economic or social theory, or those who think the Bible is as patriarchal and chauvinistic as they are and wonder why people walk away shaking their heads at this boorish display of cultural insensitivity. Outspoken, pugnacious preachers and teachers will always attract a loyal following, but that does not mean they are right. And for all their supporters they will turn off many more who need the biblical gospel and not a truncated, parochial version of it. The last thing we need today are those who major on minors. The need of the hour is for those who see the bigger picture and are able to articulate the truth faithfully in light of our current situation. What worked in the past does not always work today and it is a crying shame when we put unnecessary obstacles in the way of others. There is enough of an "ouch" to the biblical gospel -- all other "ouches" are unnecessary.

1 comment:

Paul said...

Amen to that.

We seem to have lost sight of the Apostle Paul where he says

to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.

How many barriers have we erected between the world and the gospel?