Abraham Lincoln once warned the Illinois legislature that a house divided could not stand. We see it American politics now, as the divide between Republicans and Democrats is wider than it has ever been.
The same is true for the Christian church. Although the church was established by the Lord Jesus Christ, it has become a social institution, deeply divided in theological positions. The task of bringing people to faith in Christ and making disciples suffers in the chaos of personal ambition.
We need to support the church
I am all for the church. so don’t think this is an attack or a call for readers not to attend services. We are encouraged to come together. as believers. to worship. grow in the faith and form a like-minded community. But sometimes men and women get in the way of that.
Some churches define their own criteria for who is and who is not a believer. Some focus on gathering new believers, while others focus on missions, or social issues. All this is good. but the main purpose of the church can be lost as people jockey for position within the church body. It becomes a political, self-serving activity.
No church is exempt. Denominations that come from European liturgical Christianity, as well as evangelical churches. This is especially true for the non-denominational congregations that have flourished in the last 60 years. They have drifted from traditional norms. Social issues take over. They get sidetracked. Elders are too often chosen by social standing, profession or personal wealth.
Other issues take over a house divided
Issues such as abortion, LGBTQ rights and even political party affiliation, cloud the most urgent picture of a world in turmoil and people being in need of a savior. While we are busy finding ways we differ and reasons for hating each other, we get in the way of God’s plan.
God will complete His plan with or without us, but He invited us to be a part of it, not the reason for people to reject Him. Sadly, the church I grew up in was cold, stiff and devoid of the grace of God. As a teenager I turned away from the church because I was convinced God hated me anyway, so why bother? Even churches where I served as an associate pastor had the same issues.
Many ways to serve God
There are many ways to serve God. People can certainly serve in the church by teaching Sunday School, helping with set-up, singing in the choir or praise band, being a member of the prayer team or just inviting their friends to attend. But the key is serving.
Churches set up ministries, but sometimes they have no particular interest in the ministry actually being a ministry. It looks good on the web site, but is anybody really doing the heavy lifting? I was once involved with a project a pastor asked us to set up.
He did not have the authority to actually make that order. He held meetings, but nothing moved forward. While he had his meetings, an individual was making sure nothing would ever happen. The young pastor did not see what was going on and when informed, he rejected the information. How to kill a ministry 101. It was sad.
What are your spiritual gifts?
God gives these spiritual gifts to he followers. If God calls you to service, he will make the situation available. He will equip you to do the task. God told Moses at the burning bush to just go out and do it and that He would be right there with him.
Christ came to our world to serve.
“…the Son of Man did not come to be served . but to serve. and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)
He did not come to separate us, but to unite us in Him. We should desire to be unifiers
Jesus is a peacemaker
Jesus said “Blessed are the peacemakers.” (Matthew 5:9)
Peacemakers bring people together
Peacemakers bring people together. They are not passive. They don’t just walk away and take pride in not getting into the fight. Our freedom in this country did not come without a fight.
In the case of the church, we’re talking about a spiritual fight, in the sense that we need to keep Christ first. It is His church and it is His ministry. It is predicated on His word.
Individual aspirations are all too often counter to God’s will. The desires of our hearts should be the desires to have what the Lord wants for us. It’s not a power play for positions of status or recognition. Churches, to use an old Navy phrase, need “all hands on deck.”
We are encouraged to meet together and serve together. Churches are flawed, but necessary. Churches can be difficult, but they belong to God. People get in the way of God’s plan, but God will see those plans through. We are invited to partner with Him. That’s the heart of the church.