This has been pressing on my heart. It has been pressing on many hearts of people that I know. I’m sure it has pressed on yours. The Church. I know that sounds a little vague, but I’ll explain. However, you’re gonna have to read this entire blog to fully understand. Anyways, whether you are a believer in Christ or not, you have most likely had encounters with the Church. Sadly, they probably weren’t all good encounters. Even if you go to church every Sunday, I’m sure you’ve been frustrated. You’ve had some bad experiences and bad encounters. I promise you’re not alone. I’m here to talk about the elephant in the room. Problems within the Church and within Christianity are not addressed enough. If issues aren’t addressed, they will only get worse.
Over the course of history, Christianity has messed up. It has been wrapped up in power and money. It has been used to encourage corrupt ideals. There are times in which it has displayed to the world the complete OPPOSITE of what Christianity is all about. This may be hard to hear, but the truth can be hard. If you weren’t aware, one of the worst dictators in all of history, Adolf Hitler, used the Bible to justify his horrendous actions. And people believed it. People didn’t believe it because they were terrible people. People believed it because he was their leader, and for all they knew, he was a “good Christian.” The Bible was used to justify a genocide. So yes. Christianity has a messy history.
I don’t say all of this to dog Christianity. I’m a Christian. I have a relationship with God. In fact, I chose preaching the Gospel for my career. You may wonder, then, why I am saying all of this. It’s because me, along with others, are grappling with questions. We’re grappling with questions that go beyond this time. Answers that require a radical change.
I have gone to several events where preachers have claimed that the Church has been in a decline. I 100% agree. That’s a fact. And upon having this knowledge, it is easy to immediately assume that it’s this generation. It is easy to blame anything other than the Christians. I mean the Bible says the world is corrupt, so it’s everybody else, right? It can’t be us. Every generation does this thing where they fixate their eyes on something they believe is evil and say that all the world’s problems result from that one thing. For example, Elvis Presley shook his hips “way too provocatively.” People believed that the generation who loved this hip-shaking dude were so corrupt that Jesus was surely coming back soon. Each generation has something that they believe is corrupt which leads to all of our problems. But what if we, as Christians, are approaching this the wrong way entirely? What if it’s not the generation? What if the decline isn’t because of Elvis’s hip shaking? What if it’s us?
I have had several good conversations with people who have told me they can’t bring themselves into a Church setting for many reasons. Here are a few. The Church says they’re about Jesus. They say they’re about serving people. But they are all about fun and games. They want to be cool. They aren’t actually going out and being a light to the world. They say they love me, but they whisper behind my back. They say I’m worthy of God’s love, but I receive the message that I should live in guilt for all that I’ve done.
These words make me really sad, but like I said, nothing is going to be repaired by ignoring it. I know all of this can be a huge downer. But all of this needs to be said. It’s time that we start representing Christ, like we are called to do.
I can’t take credit for all of these thoughts. I mean, I’ve been thinking of them for a while, but a book called Blue Like Jazz is what gave me the confidence to share. Don Miller has such enlightening thoughts over all of these ideas. There was one part of the book that will forever leave a mark on my faith life.
If you want to know what happens in this part of the book, read the whole book, and then we’ll have a conversation about it.
Just kidding. I’ll tell you. But seriously, READ THIS BOOK.
Don went to a college where there were many non-believers. They disregarded God. They didn’t want anything to do with God. Don was a part of a Christian group on campus, but they hadn’t ever made it known that they were Christians. However, every year, there was this campus-wide party. Apparently, it was always very wild, but they wanted to let everyone know that they were Christians and that there was this Christian group on campus. They wanted to do it… at the party. They had the idea to set up some kind of booth, so they brainstormed some different ideas. Don suggested to his friends, jokingly, that they should put together a “confession booth,” where the students could all come confess their sins. One of his friends was seriously all over the idea. Don was trying to get through to his friend that it was simply a joke. Still, his friend was persistent that they do it. But his friend had a deeper idea behind it. Yes, it would be a confession booth, but instead of having people come up and confess their sins, the Christian group would confess and apologize to them on how the Church has wronged them. These Christians would confess their mistakes. They would apologize for the way that them, as Christians, had hurt all these people. Don was all over this idea. So they did it, and you know what? In a setting where people’s farthest thought was from Jesus, they made an impact. People told them that this was exactly what they needed to hear. Because you know what? The Church had hurt them in these ways. They had over 75 people come to their booth that night. Once people heard the true meaning of this booth, they had to hear it for themselves. For once, these people felt heard. They felt understood for the way that they felt.
“I felt very connected to God because I had confessed so much to so many people and had gotten so much off my chest and I had been forgiven by the people I had wronged with my indifference and judgmentalism.” – Don Miller
Don’t get me wrong. No church is perfect. I mean nothing is perfect. Churches are going to make mistakes. Christianity is going to make mistakes. Some really big ones too. Christianity is made up of humans who are imperfect. However, that doesn’t give us an excuse to not make these radical changes that need to be made. We always hear in church that Christianity isn’t the easy road. That’s because it’s not. We are called to serve. We are called to be a light. We are called to love above all. That’s not as easy as it sounds, which is why many churches are taking the easy road. Us Christians preach messages that encourage people to serve, to be a light and to love, but we don’t always live it out. Our churches don’t always live it out. I don’t always live it out. I am a part of the problem. I think I have finally become aware of that, and it’s a hard truth. But we have to try to do better. Let’s stop living this easy road and live the way that Jesus taught us.
Also – if you’re reading this, whether you are a Christian or not, I’m sorry. I’m sorry for the times that I haven’t lived out the mission of Christ that I preach. I’m going to work to be better.