We recently attended the funeral of a 3 year old child: a very sad day for the parents and relatives of this baby. The eulogy (a self serving sermon lasting over an hour - while we all stood in the hot sun with no shade) completely ignored the pain and anguish that the parents and family were suffering and instead focused on the 'sins of the parents'.
The Pastor, many times, berated the parents for not having attended His church. It was clear that he felt His church was 'The District Church' - and thus needed to be attended by all members of the district. He never once considered that, as the sole Pastor for that district, it was his duty to visit the families within the area and provide for them a living testimony of God's love.
By the end of the sermon we were all painfully aware that the parents, in his opinion, were terrible sinners and the child's death was a direct result of their sin of not coming to His church. Wow! I bet that is just how God would have dealt with these obviouly errant parents in their time of grief - NOT!
We look around us and see people hopping from one church to another; a vicious backlash against the church by atheists; and the decline of every major Christian denomination in the world. Is it really that hard to understand why this is happening?
We have all gotten so religious that we have forgotten that GOD IS LOVE? His very nature and character are love and His gospel is one of love. Through the sacrifice of Christ, we have been SET FREE. So why do we simply replace the Mosaic laws with our own new set of rules when we set up a church?
You can't dress like that. You can't wear your hair like that. You can't drink/smoke/eat those things. You must read your bible and pray each and every day - regardless of your circumstances - or you will GO TO HELL!
Seriously, what sort of freedom is this? Do we not know that we have been given the choice to become slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness? Where as, our non-Christian neighbor simply has no freedom - they have no choice but to be a slave to sin.
So why does our non-Christian neighbor think that, when we become a Christian, we become trapped by our 'Christian Rules'. From their perspective, we are the ones with no choice and no freedom. Further more, by the way we run our churches, in certainly looks and feels that way.
No wonder when someone is looking around at all the religions, Christianity bares a sticking resemblance to all the others, but with less genuine comradery and whole lot more rules. Bottom line, everyone wants love - and our God IS love!
God loves us so much that he has given us the freedom to love Him back. What is more, He has given us all the tools we need to do that: righteousness, holiness, the power over our sinful nature and, above all, His love and forgiveness. All iof these are free gifts that we have not, and cannot, earn: the bounty of His endless grace.
It is our prayer that the church will arise, discover who they truly are in Christ and begin to LIVE the true gospel - the gospel of LOVE.
We have put together a small book called 'Equip Your Church To Love' that looks at how we, as churches and those leading churches, can begin to realign our church to a more biblical model - away from the worldly system of Top Down leadership. Please read it, comment on it and share it with your friends and church leaders. You can comment at the bottom of this article or in Twitter using the hash tag #ChurchAriseMovement.