“We have no one to blame but ourselves.” That is the phrase that kept running through my mind as I listened to a gentleman lament over how the church is received in our society today. Don’t misunderstand me. I do understand that during my lifetime, our culture has changed quite a bit. Over the last 40 years in America the church has gone from being respected to being seen as either an irritant or as irrelevant in the eyes of many of our citizens. Certainly the Christian faith is an irritant to secularists who want to eradicate God from society in an attempt to establish their own cultural standards. But even sadder to me is the fact that the Christian faith has become irrelevant to so many in our culture because they do not see in Christians the dramatic impact God can have on our lives.
As I think about our context I can’t help but ask, “How did we get to this point?” I know it is easy to blame the church’s struggles on secular institutions, and even secular philosophies, but I don’t believe those arguments hold much water. If history shows us anything it reveals that Christianity has constantly been under scrutiny yet it still flourished. There have been times in history where the church has been driven underground for a season, and while meeting in obscurity it experienced the power and impact of God. Around the world today there are Christians meeting, praying, and serving, in places where their faith is not welcome publicly yet God is moving dramatically. I am thankful for this reminder because it undergirds the principle that no secular institution or philosophy is more powerful than God. I don’t want to give them more credit than they deserve.
So what is the problem? How did we get to this point? Well in a nutshell, I believe that Christians have forgotten the basics of our mission and have allowed ourselves to be defined by a secular agenda. Let’s remember what Jesus said, “‘And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31 ESV) Jesus gives us two points of instruction to follow. First, Jesus instructs us to love God completely. Secondly, Jesus tells us to love our neighbor sacrificially.
I believe adherence to these two commands can change our world. You see, when we love God completely it will not only change us but it will change the way we view others. We will begin to see our neighbors through God’s eyes, and then we will love them as God loves them, and serve them, as God would have us serve. The Bible teaches us that, “God is Love” (1 John 4:8). So therefore, it makes sense to me that the best way for our world to see God, is to see His love for them in us.
Let me ask you, what keeps your friends, family, and neighbors from seeing God’s love for them in you? If we can find a way to remove those barriers perhaps we will begin to see a movement of God that can really impact our culture. And who knows? Maybe our conversations in the future will not be filled with lament and regret but rather filled with thanksgiving and praise. That is the future I am praying for, and I hope you will join me.