Your Part in the Mess of the Modern Day Church

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Ephesians 4:31 (NASB)

I am so sad to say it is not that way in many of our fellowships. Many churches have become hotbeds for dissension, and factions have developed over issues of music, proper attire and Bible translations. Add to this the personal insults and hurt feelings some people struggle with along with pride that comes from a sinful heart, and you have a sorry spiritual environment.

Many factions in our churches are over purely sinful things. You don't like me or something I said, I don't like you because of your music preference, or your clothing or any of the other previously mentioned things. And then we all come together on Sunday morning pretend we like each other and call it worship.  All the while hearts are full of all this unrepentant sin toward one another! God's blessing is asked on the worship and everyone pretends that somehow the church is bringing God glory by these actions...

In reality, these things are a nauseating stench to God's nostrils and it is for the same kinds of hypocrisy that Jesus said "woe to you" (Matt. 23:27).  This is false unity which is beautiful on the outside but is full of crawling worms inside because the inside is dead and rotting.

When will the church realize that God sees the hearts of men? When will we as the church realize that despite the pretense of holiness we are deeply sinful and in need of repentance? We must collectively realize that we are our own worst enemies and admit to God that our worship is not from a pure heart!

We must confess our sin to one another-admit our own wrongs. What usually happens is our confessions include "but" (the great dis-qualifier) and we attempt to shift the blame for sinful behavior onto someone else. This is obvious when someone says they would not have said nor done something if the other person would not have said or done what they did. This is not repentance or confession; it is blame shifting and justification of personal sin! True confession is done in humility and seeks to reconcile with others rather than justify self.

When confession is made forgiveness from the heart must follow! Often forgiveness is just lip service and meaningless! The words of forgiveness are uttered but the offense is cherished in the heart. This allows critical thoughts and gossip to flourish, and the offence is rehearsed over and over in the mind.

Heart level forgiveness means the hurt for the offense is transferred to the cross, the desire for revenge goes to the cross, and the anger and hatred toward that person to the cross as well. It means the offender is seen through the eyes of Christ- from the cross.

True forgiveness means never bringing up the incident again. It is not brought up to others, to the person you have forgiven, and you do not bring it up to yourself. True forgiveness mirrors that of God towards us! The offense is thrown as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12), and the forgiveness is all of grace (Eph. 1:7). We do not forgive because a person deserves to be forgiven; we forgive because we were undeserving and were shown mercy and grace.

If we are ever going to fix the mess known as the present day church we must begin with application of the 4th Chapter of Ephesians.

Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:1-3

We have to make an effort to effect heart change! We must begin to respond rightly to the promptings, conviction, and leadership of the Spirit of God. This is more likely as we memorize and meditate on Scripture and acting on what we learn.

Tolerating idiosyncrasies is much easier when the attitude of the heart is focused on being loving.  1 Corinthians 16:14 says, "Let all that you do be done in love.” Love was the motivation for your salvation (Eph. 1:4) and it is how we are to build up this body (Eph 4:16). Love must come before programs, and outreach and service projects- it must come before it all or the work is useless.

We must speak the truth in love to one another (Eph 4:15) even when it is hard. We are instructed to speak spiritual truth to one another to help each other grow to be more like Christ. As we do this the body of Christ matures and grows stronger and it becomes more difficult to feed wrong doctrine to the church.

Ephesians 5:1 says, "Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma."

I suspect that much of the "love" we show one another is not as sacrificial or loving as we might like to think it is.

None of this is about us, it is about Jesus Christ. You and I and the other people in our fellowships are to be representing Him to the rest of the world. We are supposed to be Ambassadors for Christ, representing Him in this foreign land. We are commissioned to display Christ in such a way that other people want what we have!

As you reflect on your relationships with others, examine them in the light of Scripture and in light of your ambassadorship for Christ. If you were on the outside looking in, would you want what you see being offered as "Christian?"