Is The Church On Life Support? - Part 3 The Finale

(Part 3)

Is The Church On Life Support?

This section finalizes the mandate from Christ and explores why the church is invisible and how we must move forward.

The “L” in S.A.L.T. stands for LOVE.

Many have raised the question: Is love a feeling, thought or an action? For the record love is an action word that was first modeled by God. In John 3:16, it says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” Love is a word that you can say all day, but if there’s no evidence, in action, to exemplify  your love, is it really love? In the era we live in today, love is often misused, abused and confused with lust. Love, by many accounts, is expressed by those closest to you. In fact, it’s easier to love those you like. Whatever the circumstance, true Godly love can even be shown to your enemies. (Luke 6:32-35) Godly love covers all hatred and sin. (Proverbs 10:12)

 Finally, the “T” in S.A.L.T. stands for TEACH.

In the words of the former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Kofi Annan, “Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress in every society, in every family.” We must continue to learn not only from our mistakes, but through the wisdom of teachers that have been called to equip the saints for ministry so that the body of Christ may be edified. (Ephesians 4:11-15) Education can be the pass to our future or the excuse for our past.  In the same token, we must recognize that our ignorance is not always an indication of what the teacher has taught. It can speak of the lack of access, freedom of choice and principles the  student has failed to apply.

There are many gifts within the “body of Christ”. There are some that have been called to teach, others have been sent to preach and some who just went on their own invitation. It is paramount that we remain humble, lifelong students of the word of God. We must position ourselves to receive by posturing ourselves to learn. An example of this can be found in the book of Hosea where we find Hosea faced with both a condition and a challenge. His bride has backslidden. She has fallen back into her old ways of prostitution. Hosea is devastated and is now positioned to learn God’s lesson.

What’s interesting about this story is that Hosea represents God. Gomer represents Israel and no matter what Israel does, God keeps going back for her. Even when Israel kept chasing after false gods. Conversely, Jesus keeps chasing after the “church”.

There are four quick points to glean from the story of Hosea.

  1. Condition of the People(Hosea 4:1-2) (Hosea 4:7-10)

“There is no truth or mercy or knowledge of God in the land.  By swearing and lying, Killing and stealing and committing adultery, They break all restraint, With bloodshed upon bloodshed.” The people have stopped trying to obey God. Therefore, they find themselves in a backslidden condition void of the knowledge of truth.

  1.  Cause (Hosea 4:6)

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.” The cause of our issues is that the people have rejected God’s knowledge. We’ve come to a place where we think we know it all. We must get in an environment to be taught and learn from those that can teach us how to properly dissect the Word of God.

  1. Consequences (Hosea 4:3)

“Therefore the land will mourn; And everyone who dwells there will waste away With the beasts of the field And the birds of the air; Even the fish of the sea will be taken away.” The outcome is that the land will mourn. The consequences of our ignorance, arrogance and sins have placed us in a position similar to that of Israel.

  1. Cure (John 8:31-32)

“Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” We must be able to transfer the knowledge of God’s word into the application of our life. Have you made time to find the cure?

3.Where is the church visible and invisible?

The church is referred to as both visible and invisible. However, rather than complicate the discussion regarding the meaning of the visible versus invisible church, (To read about the distinction click here.) I suggest that we rephrase the question: Exactly where is the church invisible and where is the church visible? The church is under indictment for failing to remain relevant, visible and at the forefront of winning souls to Christ. Many have said that the church was once visible, vigilant and voiceful during many movements in history. So at what point did the church reverse its course in winning souls for the Kingdom of God? Were we only visible to the innocent altar boys in the Cathedral? Maybe it was during the prosperity movement, “pimps” in the pulpit, prostituting the message of God focusing only on money.

Don’t get me wrong. There are many church bodies that have been visible and are doing many tremendous things, to this day, to model the character of Christ. Many have advanced the Will of Christ by the impact they have made within their respective communities and throughout the world. Many lives have been transformed, souls have been saved and families have been restored. Unfortunately, with all the good, not enough has been done wholly to advance the unity of Christ and His message of hope and love. Even though the Church has many denominations, the aggregate body has not put aside their differences in order to collectively further advance the Kingdom of God. As a whole, we have miserably failed the people and almost certainly disappointed God in our attempts to be politically correct, avoid confrontation and pursue false happiness.

4. When did the church go on life support?

First of all, let me be very clear that Jesus is not dead, however, based on the data collected by the Pew Research Center the church appears to be on life support. Research has revealed that over the past decade many Christians have defected entirely from the church. Some have even converted to atheism or become agnostics. Islam has become the fastest growing religion in North America. So, when did the church go on life support? Was it after the Civil Rights Movement, Social Movement or after the Affordable Care Act? Perhaps we should be speaking in the present tense of the Black Lives Matter Movement. Have we lost sight of our purpose?

The church can no longer lie around waiting for another crisis to breakout while eating popcorn and squeamishly watching CNN; disillusioned by happenings that are blatantly wrong and inhumane. Nor, by the same token, can we form another march with Dr. Martin Luther Jr., summons Harriet Beecher Stowe or expect President Obama to stand up and address all of our issues. Some churches have boldly professed to be filled with the Holy Spirit but show no evidence of the living Spirit of Jesus. Per the mandate, the body of Christ has been called out of darkness and into the light. The Bride of Christ cannot be caught in a self induced coma, unconscious, unresponsive and unable to spread God’s truth. Even though there are enough signs to show that the church has lost its savor, it has not lost its Savior in Jesus Christ.

5. Why is the church silent as a whole?

The indictment is not on the building called the church, it’s on the people that makeup the church. There are a handful of pastors and parishioners that aren’t afraid to be on the front lines. For far too long we have seen Christian leaders of all races and denominations remain silent on things that concern the Heart of Jesus. Unfortunately, there haven’t been enough that are willing to step up, speak up and lead. Sadly, we are in a code red state of emergency for the Christian church. The church is silent because too many Christians have personally failed to live the mandate of revealing the character of Jesus. Others have greedily satisfied their personal agenda by villainizing and prostituting the church in exchange for a gated community, status, and a follow on social media. On the other hand, too many Christians have diluted God’s Word to fit their own opinions as opposed to standing on their beliefs. What’s really scary is that many Christians don’t truly know what they believe.Therefore, we live in a culture that cannot defend its biblical principles and is easily influenced by untruth.

6. How does the church move forward today?

In closing, the Kingdom of God must move forward. In order to do so, it begins with every regenerated Christian and even those of you who are reading this article. We have to say goodbye to the past, embrace the present and not be afraid of our future. We must confess, forsake and repent of our sins. If we are going to move forward with Christ and experience God’s forgiveness we must begin with the confession of our sins. (1 John 1:9) Then we have to forsake those sins, which means we renounce them and turn away from them. (Proverbs 28:13) Lastly, we must repent with godly sorrow. We must ask ourselves, “How have I hurt God?  How do I make  righteous choices moving forward?” (2 Corinthians 7:10) Godly sorrow is the “game changer” that seeks righteousness over selfishness and worldliness.

As Christians we are called to be transformed not conformed to the world. We can no longer sit back and allow the church to be viewed in a comatose state; unconscious, unresponsive and ineffective in our witness to others. We have to fully understand our purpose, be clear about our role and operate in our own spiritual gift(s) in order to be effective as the Body of Christ. (Ephesians 4) We have to stop promoting false doctrines, spreading lies and being secret spies living a double life. This is not the time to promote selfish agendas. In fact, it is time for the church to be rejuvenated by a nationwide revival to promote God’s truth and promote His agenda.

Leaders, for the sake of humanity and the resurrection of Christianity; God’s Word must be rightfully divided and taught under careful supervision and a watchful eye. We can ill-afford to install another Apostle that doesn’t own a Bible, or appoint a deacon that won’t come to church. Conversely, the Saint’s must stop trying to blame every leader for their inadequacies and indiscretions. Ignorance is not to be accepted as the standard for learning the living Word of God. Instead each of us must look in the mirror and ask, “What have I done to be misinformed? What have I done to distract others from seeing the light of Christ in me?” We cannot talk about Jesus without modeling the character of Jesus.

If we claim to love Jesus we must resurrect the greatest of His commandments – “LOVE”.  (Matthew 22:34-40) We preach about love but if we promote segregation every Sunday, what are we really demonstrating to the outside world? For some, you say, “I love God.” but you won’t speak to your neighbor? As a country, how can we love God but only call on Him in the time of crisis?

In Ephesians 4 we are called to walk in unity. As the body, we all have an assignment to play our role thus carrying out our functionality. The right hand needs the arm, the head needs the body and the body needs Jesus. In order to flow, we must unite our members, put down our denominational differences and stand for change. We must be the change we wish to see. We cannot move forward with change by holding onto sin. Sin has destroyed, manipulated and deceived man since the beginning of creation. It’s time that we serve notice to sin. The church is fed up! We cannot swallow anymore false doctrine and witness another scandal in the church. From the pew to the pulpit we must demand accountability.

In the same vein, we cannot boast that we serve a God that can do all things but keep Him a secret from others. Many believers are either afraid, embarrassed or not properly equipped to share the Word. Some even peek through the curtains and refuse to answer the door when they see the Jehovah’s Witnesses coming to share their faith. Why is it that only an elect few are able to muster up the courage to speak out against politicians, pastors and business owners that have lowered the standards in our communities? As Christians, silence and ignorance is no longer acceptable. The absence of our voices speaks louder than our actions. Silence reveals a lack of unity, strategy and organization. It reveals a tired body and a church on life support. Despite our iniquities, God still reigns supreme.

The church is not called to be conformed to the world. Sadly, in many instances, we cannot tell the world from the church because we promote evil over good. We choose to elect the lesser of two evils for public office. We silently endorse lies, division, sexism, classism, hatred and injustice. We remain invisible when it is critical that we stand and be visible for God’s truth. Far too many families have suffered much too long the consequences of sin and a silent church. Isn’t it time we stop begging God to save us from our sins? In fact, if we weren’t still feeding our sin we could completely resuscitate the church and remove it from life support.

Now that we have clearly defined the church as the individual and not the building, here are three questions for you:

  • Are YOU on life support?
  • Would God say, there’s enough evidence to support your response?
  • Are you ready to, jointly, raise up a standard and be living examples of a Resurrected Savior, Jesus Christ?

Credits:

Spiritual Guidance – Pastor Paul Sheppard

Spiritual Guidance – Dr. Mark Hanby

Acronym for S.A.L.T. and sermon notes – Pastor John K. Jenkins, Sr.

Accountability notes – Crystal McDowell

Cover Photo – Mark Corder

Editing – Charlotte Brigham