The world is watching. They are tired of corruption, scandal and hypocrisy in the Church. They are finding spirituality in other religions and methods; they have been for a long time now. Others are continuing to become atheist or agnostic. And they’re tired of the Church treating them like the enemy, or that the Church is a country club and they’re not invited. The Church has lost influence in the world. God wants us to reach people around us with the Gospel. He wants us to love and forgive each other, build disciples and allow Him to work through us to spread His Word. The only thing stopping us is…us.
If you’ve been a part of a Christian community long enough, you’ve been offended, hurt, let down or had your trust betrayed. Many churches have lost their sense of community, accountability and genuine love for each other. Too many are spending extravagant amounts of money on luxuries and gimmicks instead of helping the needy. There are pastors so intent on success, money and power that people often are not as important as their personal ambition. On the other end of the spectrum, there are churches that refuse to be flexible and change with the times, or are stuck in lifeless ritual and either fall stagnant or close their doors altogether. Neither model is exactly lighting up a welcome sign for seekers.
The people around us observe ignorant Christians who don’t even understand their own religion and argue with fellow believers over small doctrinal issues. Non-Christians have dealt with enough of us to determine that too many are judgmental hypocrites. And that’s our fault. We push away the very people Jesus gravitated toward.
People can be unfair in their blanket criticism of the Church. They do need to realize that wherever there are people, there will be flaws and conflict. But the world is watching, and we haven’t shown them enough of the grace, mercy and forgiveness that Jesus has shown us. Instead, we’ve given them too many reasons to stay away. And each of us are guilty. I’ve offended people, I’ve judged people or had a pious attitude that turned off a non-believer. I’ve been lazy and apathetic in my faith. Maybe you can relate. Maybe you were the one who betrayed someone’s trust or judged someone unfairly. Maybe you got distracted by the wrong focus and need to remember the purpose of the Church.
It’s time to look in the mirror, recognize and own up to our sins, and repent. Jesus said to let our lights shine so that all men might see and believe.
Let’s show them something to believe in.