Sunday, May 24, 2009

Leap of Doubt #2 - The Church is Messed Up

We finished Leap of Doubt, our six-week series on reasons for faith, last Sunday (5/17). We saw God do some great things during the series - we had 21 first time decisions during the series - 12 adults and 9 kids overall. I believe that happened because we prayed hard for those who came, we were clear with the gospel every week, we created a safe environment to answer questions, and our people were faithful to invite those in their sphere of influence. I'm thankful to God for all that He has done. Now begins the work of making sure we help those who have started their journey with Christ to become strong and grounded in their faith - fun stuff!

The second topic we discussed during the series was the injustices committed by the church throughout history and even during our generation. Churches and church leaders have been responsible for terribly immoral acts throughout time, and this makes some question the truthfulness of the Christian gospel. For some the issue is intellectual, but for many it is personal and emotional - they have personally been negatively impacted by those who claim the name of Jesus Christ. Here's a quick overview of how I approached the topic:

1) As the church, we have to own our sin, not ignore it. The first step involves church leaders admitting where the church has not matched up to the teachings of the Bible or the heart of Jesus Christ.

2) Recognize the Biblical framework helps us understand this issue. The Bible teaches us that people are evil, which would explain why the church is full of broken people who still sin. The Bible also teaches us that people use religion to hide their evil intentions and acts from others. Religion is a deadly cover that makes us feel better about ourselves, but doesn't change our status before the Lord.

3) We all need the gospel - those inside the church and those outside the church. Only the gospel deals with our deepest problem - a heart that rebels against God and exalts ourselves as the ones in charge. Only the gospel reconciles us to our Father forever.

CS Lewis says it best when he talks about this objection and how it fails to help us in any way relate to God:

“If what you want is an argument against Christianity…you can easily find some stupid and unsatisfactory Christian and say… ‘So there’s your boasted new man! Give me the old kind.’ But if once you have begun to see that Christianity is on other grounds probable, you will know in your heart that this is only evading the issue. What can you ever really know of other people’s souls – of their temptations, their opportunities, their struggles? One soul in the whole creation you do know: and it is the only one whose fate is placed in your hands. If there is a God, you are, in a sense, alone with Him. You cannot put Him off with speculations about your next-door neighbors or memories of what you have read in books. What will all the chatter and hearsay count when the anesthetic fog we call ‘nature’ or ‘the real world’ fades away and the Divine Presence in which you have always stood becomes palpable, immediate, and unavoidable?”

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