As mentioned last Sunday, I am putting here some foundational posts from my blog at RedLetterLiving here before I resurrect it in September.
From RedLetterLiving Blog – Feb 2014
The church frustrates me. I was once asked by a wealthy church what they could do to help end homelessness. I looked around and saw the thousands of square feet that lie empty every night, the dozens of toilets, the showers in the family life center, the full industrial kitchen and wanted to say, “It is a two step plan. 1) Read the Gospels. 2) Take it seriously.” I wanted to say that. But I didn’t.
Look, Jesus nowhere says to stamp out poverty. However, he does say, fairly often, to love your neighbor. And if you truly love your neighbor, then how can they sleep outside? How can they go hungry? How can we have an “other?” The church wants to work on the homeless problem, but before they can take that on, I think they need to deal with their “Not taking Jesus seriously” problem.SOURCE: Red Letter Christians website
Not taking Jesus seriously is by far the biggest problem I have with the church. Jesus clearly told us again and again and again to love each other, even our enemies. Why has this message been lost to such a degree on today’s church?? That is the most frustrating thing for me right now. But I must admit that this problem is not a recent one. It has been going on for many centuries.
One example of this is why did the church spend so much of their resources building lavish cathedrals when so many were dying from starvation? I could point out hundreds of places in its history where the church just didn’t take Jesus seriously but I want to instead focus on the present and future, not the past. We can’t do anything about what has already happened. All we can do is to try to live up to Jesus’ words now and hopefully show them how to do it in the future.
The Bible makes it very clear that when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior that everything changes in our lives. We are dead to our previous life and will be born again into a life of following Jesus. A radical change of behavior is supposed to occur. While this idea is inspiring it is just not reality for the vast majority of us. Why is that? From my decade long study I believe a big part of that fault lies with church leadership. Like the Pharisees of Jesus’ time they have lost the true meaning of what being a Christian is supposed to be all about. The message of current church has simply been re-tuned into something not even remotely what it started out as.
This lack of leadership, of course, starts at the local congregation. I believe that there are many pastors, priests or whatever you want to call them, know in their hearts that they are not teaching their flock the true messages of Jesus. They know it but simply don’t have the courage to buck the rules and regulation of their superiors. They don’t have the courage to disagree with the most vocal in their congregations who have drifted into other agendas. Part of that is because they, like all of us, don’t want to be fired from their jobs.
Jesus made it clear that following him was not meant for the weak. It takes courage to stay on the message of Jesus…. and sadly that is the thing that seems to be quickly disappearing from today’s religions.