I've been studying churches as of late. Something my pastor said a while back has stuck with me. Doctrine has been replaced with emotion. Truth has been replaced with efforts to soothe itching ears. Follow along.
The Apostle Paul, in his second letter to Timothy, exposed most churches in our culture today. He said this:
II Timothy 4:1-8
I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure, afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
Paul was warning Timothy of what was to come. Paul's letters were to fellow believers, not to the lost people. He was telling the Body of Christ what to look out for. If only we'd heed his warning.
Does the mission of a church involve meeting the worldly emotional needs of people who seek to be comforted in their in sins or does it involve glorifying Jesus and imploring people to please God? Many churches default to the former rather than the latter. They strive for one of two things; people in pews or the lack of strife amongst its entrenched donor base. If a pastor and a church focuses on the Gospel, sometimes toes will be stepped on. The Word of God and the Holy Spirit will make people uncomfortable. That isn't a bad thing, contrary to popular belief. Preaching should lead to conviction and action. If it just scratches an itching ear, it is likely not Biblical and most likely, a load of garbage.
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
The ability of the Bible to be both and a tool for instruction and comfort is unique. A preacher of the word must be able to preach all parts of the Bible and, through prayer and study, help the people he pastors to be able to apply the Word to their lives. There are so many things in today's society, from media to government to public education to cultural rot, that seek to diminish the importance of the message of the Bible. It is up to Christians to put away the nonsense and do their best to hold fast to what God has preserved for us.
Here is an example of what I mean. In this passage, Jesus is telling his followers that those who have forsaken all worldly blessings for the cause of following Him will be blessed with everlasting life.
And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands. for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.
This message isn't popular in many prosperity preaching churches or in many so called seeker friendly churches. Too many churches preach that the Christian life is just all sunshine and lollipops. In reality, living a Christian life enables people to get through the tough stretches of life becasue we have a promise of something better. We know our eternal home is in heaven so we can have victory over life's struggles. In today's churches, when something bad happens, the people aren't equipped to overcome so they wash out and blame God, when in reality, it was likely their own flesh that caused their hardship. If they had been taught and led in the proper doctrine, they'd know that God is not the author of deception.
I Corinthians 14:33
For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.
II Peter 1:19
We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:
When we try to blame God when something bad happens, it just makes our faith weak. Our situation was most likely of our own making. That's been the case for much of my life. We must be willing to listen when the Holy Spirit steps on our fleshly toes. Praying for forgiveness and repenting is the most effective way to move forward in the Christian life. Leaving behind the baggage of the past is a must, but we must account for that baggage and then leave it behind. It won't help us get to where we need to go.
Lastly, if we acknowledge that doctrine is essential, once we come to the saving knowledge of Jesus, we must follow His commands. One part of the Bible frequently left out by modern churches is the last commandment He gave His disciples. The Great Commission must be our mission statement.
And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
If we won't endeavor to do what God has for us, we might be "believers", but we can't call ourselves Christians. To be a Christian means we must strive to be more Christ-like. This must be the mission of our churches, to make Christians and not just believers.
I look forward to hearing what you have to say. Respond below.