Wednesday, December 7, 2011

P4E.223 An Open Letter to the Church at Large - Part 7

From previous parts:"First of all, I am nobody. I have no credentials. I have no theology degree. I don't claim to be a prophet of God. I do not claim this to be a "prophetic utterance." I don't claim that God "told me" to say these things. I'm just a guy who is (hopefully humbly) pursuing Christ in his own way. I do recognize that people distinguish between the "church" and the "Church," but for my purposes, they are one and the same and what I have to say goes for both. This is certainly meant to be more than a friendly nudge, more than a good natured poke. It's meant to be a hard jab in the ribs or a kick in head of the Church. Church, I know that I am you and you are me. Any accusations I have against you, are against me as well. I don't separate myself from you. Your faults are my faults. The criticisms I am making of you are meant to be an encouragement to be better, and in that sense constructive. Don't get all offended."

Dear Church,

This will be the last part of my open letter, so you can stop worrying about me after this. The bottom line is that you've lost your way and you need to get back on track.

An important place where you've gone astray is the idea of "once saved, always saved." A corollary of this is you telling your people that they aren't and never will be "perfect," so you might as well forget about it. You can take the idea of works being "filthy rags" too far, you know?

That reminds me of another place where we depart from each other. You (or a good many of you) insist that the "born again" experience is a moment in time when you are "saved." I say that it's an on-going process:

I was saved. I am being saved. I will be saved.

Contrary to what many of you believe, we can disagree about this and still be brothers and sisters. It is said that John Newton, the man who wrote "Amazing Grace" and an ardent Calvinist, was cordial, friendly and respectful towards his many Wesleyan brothers. Actually, I agree with Rob Bell's postion that we are overly concerned with a "salvation" to a future heaven. You need to focus more on "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."

I get what you're trying to say, but you've overdone it so that Joe Blow Christian feels he doesn't have to change anything about his life once he's been "saved," and is "born again." I'm not advocating asceticism or anything, but we are supposed to be "little Christs" aren't we? Doesn't that mean that we should be in pursuit of being like Him? You've completely given up on insisting on a change in character (for the better) that should accompany the "born again" experience.
This is, in fact, what you should be focusing on with your people: character development. The Boy Scouts have this all over you. Every one of them can recite the Boy Scout Law, "A Scout is: Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent." Just think if every Church advocated and taught its men HOW to exhibit these character qualities. Forget that "you'll never be perfect, so don't even think about it" crap. As the saying goes "If you aim at nothing, you'll hit it every time."
If you, Church, did focus on character development you would have an incredible impact on marriages between people who profess themselves to be "Christians." You would have an impact on the relationships between parents and children. You would be working at your people from the inside out and changing them from within. Then you might change the world's perception of Christians as hypocrites.

As Believers, we have our own little spiritual law to live up to. It's Galatians 5:22-23: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control; against such things there is no law." If you all could just concentrate on instilling these character qualities into your men, they might give up the pornography just long enough to pay attention to their wives and families. And I'm not joking here. You are ignoring probably the biggest problem facing your church-going men. Yeah, Internet pornography is taking down many of your men. And you aren't discussing or dealing with it! You are leaving us open to the criticism of hypocrisy and worse, the loss of many otherwise good men. You are not giving them any tools or motivation or incentive to leave the pornography alone. No, you want to talk about end-times theology instead.

So, come on Church. Abandon that which is not yours and reclaim that which is rightfully yours. Take back the moral high-ground by endeavoring to deserve it. Call your men to Christlikeness. Encourage them to exhibit the fruit of the Spirit, to develop their character qualities, to get into the pursuit. Give your men some real tools that will help them in these pursuits. It's NOT about being perfect. It's about how we handle when we're not. It's about the pursuit of Christlikeness.

Finally, I agree with Neale Donald Walsch, author of "Conversations with God." When asked if God had only one message, his most important message to all of us, and you could put it into one paragraph, what would that be? He paused and said

"I can fit it all into five words. You've got me all wrong."

I bid you fare well. Go with God. But, GET THERE!

No comments:

Post a Comment