How much better would life be if Christians instead of finding fault found a solution and offered an encouragement? How much better if people stopped crying about “The Church” and instead acted like a part of the Body, lifting up and encouraging the parts that lacked? There are a number of books on the market today, books written by supposed Christians that were supposedly hurt by other supposed Christians. Let’s back up for a minute …. whoever told you the Church was supposed to be perfect? Whoever said that these authors who are making bundles of cash on the sale of their books weren’t part of the problem. Where do authors like Philip Yancey get off writing books like The Soul Survivor: How Thirteen Unlikely Mentors Helped My Faith Survive The Church? Are you kidding me?
I had a man call me today who is ashamed of what he’s done, a sin he committed, and he wants to come to Church. He told me “I don’t know how I can lift my head up and come to Church. I’ll be so embarrassed.” I told him, “Brother, Church is not a place where good people gather so they can work their way to Heaven. Church is a place where sinners who know they are sinners gather to worship the Jesus Who saved them”. Church is where bad people come, admit their badness, and follow Jesus. You are welcome here, Brother, because you are no more a sinner than I am. We’re all hell bound without Jesus.
I’m so tired of having self righteous people like Mahatma Gandhi thrown in my face. Yancey in his book wrote:
Gandhi and Reverend Andrews, a Presbyterian missionary, were walking together in South Africa. “The two suddenly find their way blocked by young thugs. Reverend Andrews takes one look at the menacing gangsters and decides to run for it. Gandhi stops him. ‘Doesn’t the New Testament say if an enemy strikes you on the right cheek you should offer him the left?’ Andrews mumbles that he thought the phrase was used metaphorically. ‘I’m not so sure,’ Gandhi replies. ‘I suspect he meant you must show courage – be willing to take a blow, several blows, to show you will not strike back nor will you be turned aside. And when you do that it calls on something in human nature, something that makes his hatred decrease and his respect increase. I think Christ grasped that and I have seen it work.’”
Gandhi was not a Christian. He is acknowledged as the Father of India, a nation that will kill a Christian as quick as a chicken will hit a kernel of corn. Gandhi was a humanist. He said “You must not lose faith in humanity. If a few drops of the ocean are dirty you do not call the ocean dirty.” God said “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). Gandhi believed Jesus Christ was a Great Teacher but nothing more. He rejected Christianity and Christ as the Savior of the world. Gandhi said “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ.” That’s true. Christians fail, but God never fails. Though Ghandi espoused nonviolence he said “It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our hearts, than to put on the cloak of nonviolence to cover impotence.” He stated “I am a Hindu first and nationalist after”. He rejected the statement of Christ in John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth and the life. No man cometh unto God but by Me”. To Gandhi there were many paths to God. He rejected Christ’s words:
John 3:16-18 (KJV) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (17) For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (18) He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
The Church is God’s method to reach a lost and dying world. Jesus said that the Church was “My Church, and I am building it” (Matthew 16:18). The Bible says that the Holy Spirit places members in the Church as it pleases God (1 Corinthians 12:11-13). The Church is the Bride of Christ, and the conscience of the nation. Is it flawed? Yes, it is. Is it divided? Yes, it is. Has God lost control of His Church? No, He hasn’t. God is in control (Romans 8:28), and works all things according to the council of His will (Ephesians 1:11). Each local Church – flawed as it is – is placed where it is to reach – not compromise with but REACH – a lost and dying community. God’s method is the local Church.
To the Phillip Yanceys of the world I say “Put on some big boy pants and quit crying about someone who hurt you in Church”. People hurt people. It happens. I learned a long time ago that sheep bite the shepherd and one another. There is no where you can go where you won’t find someone who disagrees with you. Driving down the road someone will cut you off in traffic, blow their horns at you, shout at you. I inadvertently cut someone off in traffic the other day and as they drove by they rolled down their window, flipped me “the bird” and shouted “Thanks a lot, b_____!” That hurt my feelings so much I pulled over to the side of the road and swore I’d never drive again – NOT! I laughed it off and moved on, telling myself to be more careful in the future.
To the Church I say, “Remember Whose you are. Remember what Jesus told you to do.” Jesus commands us:
John 13:34-35 (KJV) A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
We who are saved by grace are to be gracious. We are to speak the truth in love, to be constructive, to care for one another, to sacrificially love as Christ loves. As He is so are we to be. If offended, we try not to offend back. We make allowances for the sins of others. We pray for one another then put feet to our prayers, doing good as God has commanded. We speak the truth in love.
To the Mahatma Gandhi crowd I say: “Repent. Turn to Christ and be saved.” Salvation is all of grace, all of Christ. Quit dressing yourselves up in the rags of self righteousness, and call on the Name of Jesus:
Romans 10:9-13 (KJV) That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. 12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. 13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
You may not like Christians, but if you aren’t one by faith inn Christ you won’t have to spend eternity with them. You will be with the Hindu, the Buddhist, the New Ager, the Religionist, the Hippy with the COEXIST bumper sticker, the rich man, the sexual sinner, the thief, the murder, and all others who rejected the salvation that is offered by the Lord Jesus Christ. You will be sequestered into a place the Bible calls hell, the Lake of Fire, for all eternity for rejecting the King of Kings and the Lord of Lord.
I beg you, don’t do it. Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life – no man comes to the Father but through Him. Don’t be sold a bill of foolish goods. Call on the Name of Jesus and be saved!