How I love, adore and respect you. You have so much to offer the world, but, right now I fear we are pushing people further away… I fear we are being lured and distracted by the enemy from what’s really going on under our own roofs. I fear we are spending more of our time, our money and our voices trying to pull the speck out of other peoples eyes, rather than deal with the planks in our own.
My heart breaks, for while we spend our energy ticking boxes and “taking a stand” on issues like homosexuality, here are some things going on within our own church communities:
Physical, emotional and sexual Abuse
Engaging in dodgy business transactions
Manipulating and controlling
We, the Church, were always designed to be a place for the broken, the wayward to find Jesus, find hope, and live without shame or condemnation. A place to grow in their relationship with God and find community with others. A safe place to be open, messy, and transparent with our struggles. Yet, what I see is an environment that alludes to keeping our hearts closed and our struggles hidden, and yet from the pulpit we teach that our sin should be brought out into the light, not kept in the darkness. I fear we, the Church are being mislead. I fear we have missed the mark…
In recent times I have heard the issue of gay marriage being spoken from the pulpit on multiple occasions. Please hear me, I am not saying this is wrong, but never have I heard the church take a stand against domestic violence like they do on homosexuality. Domestic violence is occurring on a much larger scale in our communities, affecting more than a minority group, damaging and destroying families every single day. I believe there is an undercurrent of hypocrisy in our hearts. Why are people too scared and too afraid to bring their brokenness out into the open? I think it’s because though we “preach” one thing, our actions and church culture communicate a very different thing altogether.
Don’t you think Church, that its about time we got our own house in order before we try intervening in someone elses?
At the moment I am seeing the Church being slandered, ridiculed, and accused. The Church as an institution is SO misunderstood. But dear brothers and sister in Christ, what are we doing to contribute to how the church is represented to the world? Are we a light on a hill? Or are we underground and only willing to show our faces when we feel threatened?
Perhaps the voices that should be louder in the Church are our prayers? Yes, we have rights and freedom of speech like every other person, and yes we WILL be subject to persecution for our beliefs, but can you just take a moment and ask your self… Is our struggle not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms? There is darkness in this world Church. So much darkness. But, may I be as bold as to say that, I think the battles is bigger than the issue of those outside of the church asking for the ability to marry someone of the opposite sex? Perhaps I am wrong. I know many of you will think so.
But the reality is, the world is falling apart and as I have heard it said, as the world continues to deteriorate the only institution that will be left standing is the Church? I personally, do not believe that we can, as Christians, hold those outside of the faith accountable for our fundamental beliefs, and yes, I understand that we want to protect our children and our families from a corrupted world, but friends this world has long been corrupted since Eve bit into the apple it just carries a different name. I fear, Church, we have bought into fear. We have let the world scare us from being a light on a hill. We have gone into flight or fight mode instead of choosing grace, mercy, humility and wisdom.
Perhaps the biggest way our voices would be the most powerful if they were quieter in some areas and louder in others; Like in our own churches for example?
Please friends, do not take this as a hate letter, or that I am a cynical burned out Christian. I am the opposite of burned out, I am burning with desire to see the Church transform into a powerful platform for restoration and reconciliation. I am burning with passion to see people set free from their personal darkness and pain. But we cannot be all these things to a broken world if we cannot learn to work these things out within our own community. Friends, I believe the enemy has deceived the Church. I recognise there are wonderful, intelligent, wise, loving and caring people in the church, but where one brother is falling we are all accountable.
I am asking you to think bigger. Look at the bigger picture. Examine your hearts and attitudes. And pray. Do not take my word for it. Ask God. Seek his wisdom and counsel. Pray fervently not just for the unchurched but even more importantly for those within our own homes that are lost and wandering. Pray that the church would NOT be a vessel for the enemy to distract God’s people from their true callings, but pray it would be a place where God’s people are a united front engaging in authentic, even painfully honest conversations.
I believe this has to start from the pulpit. Our leaders must to be the example, and be willing to change the trajectory of church culture and how we speak about each other in and outside the church walls. Our leaders have to be willing to raise the uncomfortable issues and guide and teach our congregation how to navigate things like; healthy sexuality, to call out and raise up our men into spiritual leaders, to talk about addiction ect. We HAVE to use our voices to talk about these issues openly in the church otherwise where else can we go??
Life is complex and messy, and we the Church are not exempt from this. We are no different from anyone else. We are still sinners and the only difference is that we believe we have been saved by grace. So let’s live our salvation and freedom with conviction, truth and purpose, with humility, vulnerability and authenticity. I pray we won’t confuse purity and holiness for self-righteousness and hypocrisy. I pray we will, as a Church, be brave and lean into the mess. Lean into our pain so that we might see how others hurt. I pray we wont be so quick to throw our “opinions” (I’m guilty) around without understanding that each human being has an untold story that you know nothing about. I pray that when a gay couple walks through your church doors you welcome them with open arms and treat them like any other person in your congregation, because they are no different then us. There should never be an “us” and “them”. I pray most of all that through the love and grace given to you by God, you will strive each and every single day to see others through the eyes of Jesus.