Looking at my title “A Thought on the State of the Church in America.” seems a little daunting to write about now that I’m looking at it, but I’ve often thought about this subject. To be honest, I’m not sure it’s the wisest course of action to write about this. It’s not like I’m an authority on any subject, and I know of no quicker way to look like an idiot than to write about something of which I have no real education, yet, I do have a thought or two on this subject so here goes.
To me, trying to write about the “church” without writing about “America” is like writing half the story. I don’t think it’s possible to write intelligently about one and leave the other out. The fact that there are people who can routinely talk about “America,” and not even mention the “church” adds a whole new layer to the term “separation of church and state.”
When I think about “the church,” a number of things come to mind, but primarily it’s failure to carry out its’ God-given mandates. I realize a statement like this can draw some fire from people who are going to say I’m making judgements I have no right to make, that I’m being too harsh, but I’m going to stand by what I said. How can I say something so inflamatory? Who do I think I am making a statement like this? The answer to the first question lies in my motivation for saying it.
Everything in life whether it be cars, houses, or clothes, to the way we tie our shoes, to how we feel about abortion and think about government came about as a result of making comparisons. When I look at this country and the way it is now, and the way it was when I was a boy, and compare the two, I see a discrepancy between the country I lived in then and the one I live in now.
I’m forty-nine. I’ve seen a lot of things change during that time. How about you? Is your life now the same as it was 5, 10, 20 years ago? Is it better now than it was then? Is it worse? Perhaps you feel it’s just different. What were people like then? How did they act in your life then as opposed to now? What about values, morals, sports, politics, education, religion, sex, technology? Wouldn’t you agree that all these things, and the attitudes toward them have changed? In some instances these things have changed the way we think and live dramatically. Now am I saying any of these things are good or bad? No, but what about the attitudes toward them?
Our attitude is our disposition toward something. It’s our inclination to think and feel about things in a certain way. Our attitudes are developed under the influence of what we experience. We’re all a product of the things that influence or fail to influence us. It’s here that the “church” comes in. Up until the 1960’s, I believe, the church was the single biggest influence on our society, and it’s people. That’s not to say the church quit being influential, but it’s influence on society began to change. Why is that important, and how does it play into what I think is the failure of the “church?”
Why it’s important is because I believe it’s the church that upholds the word of God, and in doing so upholds the standards of morality and decency. In the 1960’s, our country started undergoing changes because of the Vietnam Nam war, protests, free love, and illicit drug use, and they started having an affect on eveything around them. Think about this. In just the last 25 years school and workplace violence, unwed pregnancy, divorce, drug and alcohol abuse, pornography, crimes against children, murders and suicides in this country have grown exponentially. Our government, unemployment, the national debt, taxes, welfare, are all out of control, and our once great nation is now on the verge of collapse.
So what does this have to do with the failure of the church? All of these things that I just talked about are social ills. Frankly, all these things are the result of sin, of living in rebellion against God, and to be blunt are the result of the church’s failure, both as an organization and as a body, to uphold, and live out what God has called His people to be and to do. Is that being too harsh? Is that being unfair? I don’t think so, and here’s why.
I remember a time when preachers’s taught the Word of God verse by verse, chapter by chapter. I remember a time when I was a boy, and my pastor taught on what being a good husband and father entailed, on the value of marriage and why it was important, why you shouldn’t have sex before you were married, why it was important to be a good steward of what you had, why it was important to raise Godly children, and why it was important for children to obey their parents, what love really was, and how someone who really loved showed it. I remember how the people I went to church with knew each other by name, how they banded together to help each other, how when one member suffered we all suffered and would gather around to help and support them. Most of all, I remember as a child hearing about the love of God as expressed in the life of Jesus, and why He came, and what He did for me.
Instead of the church maintaining it’s stand, and it’s commitment to teach the Word of God, and to hold itself and it’s members accountable, it allowed hersy to enter in. It started teaching philosophy instead of doctrine. It allowed the things of the world to enter in, and started using the things of the world to appeal to people. Churches started telling people that “Feeling good,” “Being happy,” and “Name it and claim it” were what God wanted and would give. They gave people the God they wanted and not the one they needed, and now we live in a country that spends every waking minute worshiping him.
The thing about it is all those things have one thing in common, “SELF.” Christ didn’t come for him “self.” He came for me and for you, and to gather unto himself a people who would love Him, and each other. The failure of the church is in the fact that the one thing thing it was called to do it quit doing. What is that? To demonstrate to each other, and to all people, the love of Christ. The saddest commentery on the church in America, in my opinion, is what happened right after Sept 11. For a period of time, the churches in our country were filled to overflowing, and then in a very short time all those people who were seeking answers quit coming. Why?
The answer to the “why” is because there was nothing different in the churches than what they saw in the world. The churches forgot that it wasn’t the condemnation of Christ that drew people to it, but His love. If our country is to survive, the only way that will happen is for the “church” to quit being the organization it has become, and become once again the living, breathing, “body of Christ” who showed through the example of His life the kind of love that could and did change the world.
Who do I think I am? I think I’m a sinner who has experienced the love of Christ; who has accepted His death on the cross for my sin, and who I’ve placed my faith and trust in. Who wants people to know that although there are hypocrites in the church that Christ isn’t one of them. To beg you to consider what I’ve said, and to know that Christ loves you, that He died for you, that He will accept you where you are, and take you where He wants you to be. and that all you have to do is confess that you’re a sinner, and ask Him to save you. He will do so. If you have any questions or thoughts you’d like to share, I will be happy to help or listen as you will.