How did it come to this? Theoden, son of Thinger
We’ve been doing a series on where the church went wrong and how we started plummetting toward irrelevance. This article is based on a post on Emory’s personal page from a few years ago but is just as relevant today as it was when I wrote it. The church has failed to love as Christ loved.
When this post was originally written, I’d talked to 4 different people who grew up in church, at one point claimed to be saved, and walked away from God in their teens or college. Out of those four, one was starting to make his way back to God, one was considering it, and two were still wandering, one in philosophy, the other in atheism. Besides just being brought up in church, these people all had something else in common….why they left. Somewhere, in their past, the church failed them. God didn’t, but His ambassadors here displayed a miserable lack of understanding of His love for them, and for others and shunned those who needed God’s love the most. At least one, probably more of these wanderers were brought up in fundamental churches.
I will preface this by saying my belief in fundamentalism has not changed. I still believe what the Bible says about sin and its consequences. Rather this has opened my eyes to the abject hypocrisy we live in. Christ said ” By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” He didn’t say by how you dressed, what music you listened too, or how often you were in church. Don’t get me wrong, those things are important things. But if we get those things right, and we miss out on loving this lost world, we are WORTHLESS! Our behaviors should grow out of our love for Christ. Apart from that, they are nothing but hypocrisy, One of the people I mentioned committed adultery and had a child. She was hounded by her congregation, over and over to repent, to get saved, when in fact she was already saved. She walked away. She didn’t need lectures. She knew what she did was wrong. She needed love. She was raising a child on her own and still is. How would Jesus have treated her? We know the answer. He told the woman taken in adultery to go and sin no more. He didn’t condemn her to death, despite her being worthy of it under the Law. He forgave her, loved her, and corrected her. The three went together.
And what disgusts me far more is that this is not an isolated case. We fundamentalists have become the Pharisees, judging everyone’s sins, but ignoring our own. Jesus said “Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye.” What has happened to us? We have our own sins to deal with. Why in the name of common sense are we trying to do God’s job for Him? Who do we think we are? I know the Bible says to use discernment about peoples sin so you aren’t drawn into them but for crying out loud, that doesn’t give us the liberty to disparage someone or look down on them because they sinned. Guess what, we sinned too. All sin is equal before God. Do not berate someone for their sin. Instead, lovingly correct them and restore them.
No wonder our churches are collapsing. No one wants to be looked down at. Broken people come to church, looking for answers. What they too often find is imperfect people with a perfect facade who look down their noses at them for having more obvious sin. That was not Christ and He was perfect. Why on earth aren’t we imitating Him?
So what is the solution? It’s all well to identify a problem but more important is solving it. Get back to what worked for Jesus. Loving people as they are. Yes they have sin, but we can’t change that. All we can do is show them a God who can and let Him take it from there. I’m not saying their sin is right, nor am I saying we should not accept the sin. Correction should occur, church discipline may be necessary, I know that. I’m saying we can’t change a sin that already happened. So let’s get off our Pharisaical high horses and realize we are just as wicked as the worst child molester. The more you love people, the better you will reach them.