Is The Church On Life Support?

(Part 1)

This section defines and explores the state of the church.

Just a little over ten years ago our country witnessed one of the most highly controversial cases that the U.S. Supreme Court would ever hear. A case that began as a private family matter, ended up being a highly public debate. In fact, it was so scrutinized and talked about that even the Vatican and White House weighed in on the matter. Many of you may even remember the name -Terri Schiavo. In this case, Terri’s husband made the legal plea not to keep her artificially alive. “He believed she would never emerge from her comatose state — as did every doctor who examined her. He did not want her to live in a permanent vegetative state, unconscious, unresponsive and unable to interact with the world since he felt that she would not want to be in that condition.” NBC News   

In January of 2015, we witnessed another highly publicized story. The story of Bobbi Kristina Brown, the daughter of the late pop star, Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown. Bobbi Kristina was found unconscious and unresponsive in a bathtub inside her home. She was taken to a nearby hospital where doctors made the decision to place her on life support for several months. Sadly, in both cases, the outcome was tragically the same.

For the record, allow me to interject an explanation regarding the purpose of life support. Life support tubes were designed to assume the role of providing oxygen to the lungs. Therefore aiding and allowing the nervous system adequate time to recover. Doctors typically will use this system as a last resort when there is enough evidence that the party in question has a failing organ or organs. In addition, the patient is also placed on medication to support bodily tolerance of the ventilator.

Imagine this…you are awoken at 3:00 a.m. in the morning by an unexpected call. The caller on the other end of the phone says, “Mr./Mrs Jones this is Nurse Hosea from the Greater Washington Medical Center. There’s been a terrible accident. Your spouse was severely injured in a three car collision and the doctors need you get here as soon as possible.”  Upon your arrival to the front desk you are told to go to room 777. Note: You were both ill-prepared and ill-equipped to handle what you are about to experience. As you open the door to the room, you are greeted by the sound of machinery and the sight of tubes connected to the mouth and throat of your spouse. These same tubes are commonly referred to as “life support tubes.” They are filtering artificial air into the lungs of your spouse as he or she lies there totally helpless, clinging to life.

Immediately your heart begins to palpitate as your emotions begin to get the best of you. You are gripped by fear and pandemonium. A flood of thoughts roves through your mind. You fight  to maintain composure as the doctor greets you. The doctor says, “Mr./Mrs. Jones, it’s not looking good. We’ve done what we can for now, but now we must wait to see how his/her system responds over the next few days.”

While you sit in the waiting room, painfully shedding tears, other family members begin to arrive. One person says, “Let’s pray.” Another says, “Why pray? Where is God now?” Thoughts begin swarming through your head. You begin to question yourself, “What could I have done differently?” You even blame yourself recalling countless times when you witnessed them light up a room. They were always known for being passionate about serving the Lord. In fact, every opportunity given, they were sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Now without warning, all you observe is their defenseless body lying there connected to numerous tubes. If this were your story, what would you say, and what would you do? Hypothetically, I ponder if that’s how Jesus feels when He sees His church lying here on the earth in a permanent vegetative state; unconscious, unresponsive and ineffective in our witness to interact and spread the Gospel to a dying world.

We are living in a time in which many Christians, across the country, have become unable to effectively offer the invitation of salvation. Our necks have become stiff, our ears dull and our hearts numbed and hardened to the priorities of God. (Acts 7:51-53) The evidence of our fruitful harvest is completely lacking. Our role, purpose and assignment to be the S.A.L.T. of the earth is under scrutiny. Over the past ten plus years the results have appeared bleak, prompting one to inquire : Is the Church on life support? It has become very difficult to distinguish the conscious Christian from the unconscious world. The DNA of Christ’s shed blood on Calvary’s Cross is under attack, while the witness of every regenerated believer is in doubt.

According to the most recent study released by the pew Research Center, there has been a notable decline in the religious landscape across North America. In particular, amongst the Christian landscape which has seen an unfavorable slope in its numbers. In 2007 (78.4%) of the population identified itself as Christian. Fast forward to just seven years later. In 2014 only (70.6%) of the population identified itself as Christian (Pew Research Center).

This is largely, in part due to a growing population that does not classify with any organized religion. However, this same group either describes themselves as atheist, agnostic or without affiliation. Conversely, this group is largely made up of the growing Millennial population. There is also a growing percentage of mainline Protestants and Catholics that no longer identify themselves as Christians.

Given these unfavorable facts, along with the growing problems that our country is plagued with today, it would appear as though the Christian community is losing its charge to carry-on the mandate left by Jesus Christ. This leads me to ask the “Big Bird” questions of the day: Is the Church on life support? Do we know the mandate?

Today, I’d like to elicit six questions for every believer in Christ to carefully consider. It has been said, “If you are not part of the solution, you must be part of the problem.” Although, your answers to the following questions may be evidence used against you, they will offer us clarity in defining our mandate as the church.

1. Who is the church?

First, it is significantly important that we define the word Church before we can define who the church is. The word Church is derived from the greek word ekklesia, which means called out, assembly or congregation. The question still at large is: Who is the church that has been called out? The Church is the entire regenerated body of believers that have professed their love, acceptance and faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  Those that have been saved by the Power of God to do His Will and His Work.

The church is not to be defined by its physical building. This is the definition given by man, not the example spoken of in scriptures. St. Peter refers to the church as the people, not the building. (1 Peter 4:9) The church is defined by who it is, otherwise known as the body of believers in Jesus Christ. In order to truly understand who the Church is, we have to know who Jesus is and what He did. I’d like to offer you a brief “Reader’s Digest” version of his resume and accomplishments. Jesus was the Son of God the Father. He healed the sick, fed the hungry, saved the lost and raised the dead. He bore the punishment for all of our sins by shedding His Blood and dying on Calvary’s Cross for the atonement of your sins and mine so that we might have the key to eternal life. Three days later He defeated death and rose from the grave with all power. (Luke 24:1-9) Forty days later He ascended into heaven to be seated at the right hand of God the Father fulfilling His Divinity. This same Jesus is the head of the Church who made a promise to His disciples that after He ascended they would receive the power of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 1:7-8)

To learn more about Jesus you can read the book that was divinely inspired by His Father. This book that I am referring to is called the BIBLE. It is the most sold out book in the history of man. Every year it continues to break records. It is commonly referred to as the “Bread of Life”. Some refer to it as the “Basic Instructions Before Leaving the Earth”. It contains the key to us understanding who Jesus is, what He did and the purpose in which we must carryout His mandate as the “Church” (the body of believers).

Check back for part 2 coming soon.

Credits:

Spiritual Guidance – Pastor Paul Sheppard

Spiritual Guidance – Dr. Mark Hanby

Cover Photo – Mark Corder

Editing – Charlotte Brigham