As I sat here in the church office as an intern, I decided it is time for me to write again. I pulled up the WordPress app on my computer and started typing this out, however I found myself at a loss for words. There was a heaviness in my heart as of late and I have had a lot of thinking that needed to be done. Thinking of the future and of what I need to do in order to survive. If you could keep me in your prayers, reader, that God would give me wisdom and guidance in what I should do in order to make finances work when I finally get to that point. Now, I will get on to the topic at hand today.
Today I wanted to discuss the dead church. Don’t take my words out of context here, I believe the church is important in our lives as believers and is important in our fellowship with others, however I believe we have turned it into something it was never meant to be.
I have been taking Western Civilization online during the summer and I have learned a great amount of information during this class. Reading on about the abuse of the Papal powers and of the kings of the Middle Ages. Reading the horrible atrocities that the “church” has done. I think as Christians, we cannot ignore these issues (i.e., The Crusades) as if they didn’t happen. We do not fix things by claiming they never happened nor by simply ignoring them. Atheists quite often claim that religion in general has only brought war and pain, and often times they are right. I would dare say that the atheist is 100% right, religion has historically been the main proponent of war. Although this is true, it would be foolish of us to ignore other causes of wars (i.e., money, power, glory, etc.). However, I really want to talk about this church of persecution compared to the church that Christ refers to as his bride.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'”
Matthew 7:21-23 ESV
This passage in scripture never made sense to me. I always wondered why God would deny those who did the work of God. Then I realized that God knows the inner depths of our hearts. These people mentioned in Matthew 7 did not do these things because they loved Jesus and God, but because they loved themselves and the attention it brought them. But Tony, how does this relate to these horrible things the church has done in the past? I’m glad you asked.
In the Crusades, we see this slaughter of those who were not believers in Jesus and the church. We see that the church promoted this behavior and, in fact, poured money into these conquests. There were several reasons for the Crusades however the main purposes were the fear of Islamic power and the access to the east. However, the Pope would convince many people to join these armies through religious reasons. Many hundreds and even hundred thousands were slaughtered in the name of Christ. I am sure in the eyes of the Crusaders they believed that they were in the will of God and were “casting out demons in [Jesus’] name.” However, as we read earlier in Matthew 7, many will do these things, he will declare to them, “I never knew you…” We need to confront this issue of the historic church saying that yes, they did do these things in the name of Christianity, however that does not mean it was right. We must reflect what we read from the teachings of Jesus. Earlier in Matthew 7 (Matt. 7:12) that we are to treat others how we would like to be treated. This also needs to be a lesson on how to reach people and how we as a church must shift our focus.
My point behind all this is simple, the church today must revamp who it is and what it’s all about. We are called to be about the Father’s business and to love people. We must shift our focus from how we can get people to Jesus, and think how we can get Jesus to people. Too often we may find ourselves more focused on getting non-believers into the church and hope that they have an encounter with Jesus and get saved. That would be an ideal scenario but, unfortunately, that isn’t how the world works. The Great Commission is not for the world to come for the good news, but for the church and her people to go out to the world and preach the Gospel. We need to care for people and we need to understand that the first piece of Jesus anyone in the world will ever see is us. We must take this with humility, reminding ourselves that we are slaves to Christ. When we do this, I believe that we will have a positive impact on the lives of those around us and reflect Jesus on a daily and consistent basis.