Saturday, August 25, 2007

FAITH GONE FLAT

What's going on with Christianity: yours, mine, and ours? I wonder if the Great Commission has been hijacked. While many congregations (including where I reside) emphasize some outreach, there is magnanimous and united focus on the part of general Christianity to see that we do church right. Translation? Churches are doing and saying biblical things inside of our unbiblical church buildings at the expense of setting God's front-burner goal on the back burner. Considering the most basic believer, how much of his time and meaning involve (not a hint of outgoing, but) choosing up sides for the perpetual religious tug-o-war of Which kind of church does the most things right?

Abe Lincoln (not the President but a Christian leader from Lubbock) sat in a meeting with elders and me one Saturday afternoon to help us wade through church philosophy and standards (arguments). He made a statement I could not understand at the time. Eventually I realized his profound, yet seeming backward, observation. He said that our doctrines will change when we take our faith out into the community. My thought was, If truth is the truth, why would it change on the street? That's still a good question and I've discovered the answer.

Until the church takes the Good News out, it has nowhere to arise to its intended purpose. The Good News is designed to bring life to the lifeless, hope to the poor, and recovery to the sabotaged. When boarded up within church walls, eventually the good news becomes merely a topic for monotonous debate with undertones to most members of, This ain't ever going to go anywhere. Quarter upon quarter and decade upon decade we keep circling the same protective wagons, while avoiding the adventurous trail of purpose and meaningful service toward others.

As a result, churches have shifted His message of hope to theirs of a lesser standard. Come join us and let's go nowhere together! has become the weak word toward a pleading-for-something-which-could-help society. Churches (all brands and shapes) have sucked the air out of His great commission and, therefore, have been forced to scramble for something (anything) of substitutional interest.

Can the drive of the church be re-inflated? Absolutely. We have a wonderful future in our presence! From experience I can attest to the accuracy of Abe Lincoln's bewildering comments. Every time we make a move into any community to offer hope rather than distancing judgment, our doctrine of what we really count to be meaningful arises. Jesus was on target. If we will lose our lives for the sake of others, we'll discover ourselves coming alive. If, however, we sit in church houses and play-it-safe we will find the air going out of our faith. Eventually, we will not be able to breathe. Finally, as Jesus promised, we will die.

Got life? Want to give life? Put some air back into your faith. Buy a barefoot child a pair of shoes. Stand in line at McDonalds and buy a poor family a warm breakfast. Acknowledge a toothless old woman who walks as if she doesn't have a friend in the world. Look outwardly. See people in need. Risk. Replace judgmental rolling of the eyes with extending helping hands in a community which so needs someone, just one someone, to applaud.

10 comments:

Tim said...

WOW! As usual, your comments speak directly to my heart... some of the members of the local body here have been challenging each other to 'live out our faith'... we have reached the same conclusion you are speaking about in this blog... and, with God's help and His Spirit's leading, we are beginning to see a distinct change in direction...

we (individually and collectively) are starting to really reach out to people... and since most of us have come from traditional 'keep it within the walls' churches, we are constantly reminding ourselves what we don't want to be... but since we have realized that THAT is not a grand enough vision (to know what we don't want to be), our mission has begun to crystalize as one of outward service...

thank you for constantly reminding me (all of us) that Christ' model for His church is one of serving and reaching and planting... sadly (and thankfully, at the same time), many traditional churches of every stripe are slowly dying...

God Bless us as we finally begin to realize His purpose and act on it!

Cary said...

Thank you thank you thank you.

john dobbs said...

Marvelous post, Terry. I will be sharing this with our congregation soon. This is so so so needed. Bless you.

Mike Miller said...

This one cuts to the bone, brother.

Jim said...

Brother Terry, I cannot agree with you more on what you said in "Faith Gone Flat". We are all guilty to some degree of complacency. We are all sometimes if not oftentimes just pew sitters, instead of kingdom builders. Our Church, does good for the community but sometimes there is a lack of spreading the Gospel. Just yesterday our church after gathering a lot of school supplies gave them to students in need. We have many who go the extra mile service wise, but what you say in the statement "Churches are doing and saying biblical things inside of our unbiblical church buildings at the expense of setting God's front-burner goal on the back burner." I believe in the old saying that 20% of the church members are doing 80% of the work and 80% does only 20%. Those numbers could even be skewed with fewer doing the 80% these days. And I find myself in the larger number not doing my part the way I should. I think in this rat race of life we are burning out being busy and it gets harder to focus on what is most important. The service to the community is great but it doesn't necessarily replace the Good News for which you are speaking. We are also afraid in this world with a watered down gospel message because we think we have to be politically correct.

I Peter 3:
13Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear what they fear[b]; do not be frightened."[c] 15But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17It is better, if it is God's will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. 18For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, 19through whom[d] also he went and preached to the spirits in prison 20who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, 21and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge[e] of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22who has gone into heaven and is at God's right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.
I was also going to include Romans 12:1-2, but here in 1 Peter we are given information, divine words, of how we really are to share our faith and what it brings about. May God give us all what we seek if it is lost souls. Love God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength and He will be pleased. Thank you Terry for sharing heartfelt messages that have meaning today, Jim

Lita said...

Thank you for not being afraid to lay it on the line. For letting God speak through you without over-analyzing and being nervous about stepping on toes. Thank you for stepping on my toes...not just today, but many, many times. I'm printing this post to read to my Small Group tonight.

Liz Moore said...

Thank you for once again pointing out something that should be so obvious to us as Christians. Blessings!

Chris said...

If this post doesn't challenge our status quo attitude we may be closer to death than we realize. Thank you.

Greg said...

I feel like I just got a well-deserved spanking.

Anonymous said...

Terry for me the power of your words in this post is only a tiny
reason for why they move me and challenge me. The true power comes from what I know of the life you live. As a former co-worker I have seen you live out this post in real life. And still do.
love ya,
craig