The Church’s Greatest Opportunity

What do I see as the greatest opportunity presently in the Christian church in America?

  • To fulfill this commandment given by Jesus: John 15:12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

It is because of the present situation within the church that presents such barriers to attempt to accomplish this that I say this.

To start with let’s look at some present challenges I see that are symptoms or the real problem:

  • Sectarianism and division caused by denominationalism.
    • To start with, Non-believers are confused when looking at our divisions. It becomes challenging to determine who is correct.  The Bible even comes into question because denominations and churches profess they base their belief in the it, yet there exists so many differences among us.  There even seems to be variations of denominations within denominations!
      • They ask themselves “is there actually a truth?”
    • Judging one another stops the interaction of God’s Love among us. There is judgement as one denomination or group places themselves as “more right” than the others.
      • This judgement of one another must stop if we wish the commandment given by Jesus to be fulfilled.
      • This is also a stumbling block we place in front of the lost. Christians are seen by non-believers as being judgmental not just because of our beliefs and stands on present social issues, but it is confirmed by how churches and denominations judge one another.
    • The actual and perceived hypocrisy occurring in the church.
      • How we preach that God is King, to live a righteous life and follow what He commands but to the non-believer we appear to say one thing but live and act just like them.
        • Saying the words “I accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior” without supporting them with a life dedicated and lived for Christ has a very hollow echo in a lost world.
        • John the Baptist said it best in Luke 3:8 “Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance”
      • We can leave out what Jesus commanded yet have no problem believing we are believers. Do we believe or not, it is 100% or nothing the way I see it.
    • Materialism! This can be several sermons or blog posts all by itself.  All I will say on this item is most churches and believers are held within its grasp and we don’t even recognize it.  What decisions do we make that the thought of how it will affect us financially does not come into play?  For most it is hard enough just giving out of our abundance and could not imagine giving sacrificially.
    • Church services have become performances, activities, programs and times of receiving. Feelings have replaced the Gospel.  The Gospel is offensive, exposing sin, stating one must die to self, Jesus in the only way to eternal life.  This truth is how the early church grew and is the core of how churches presently are growing in areas Christians are experiencing severe persecution.  Here in America I read that people choose the church they will attend based on; Parking lot, chair comfort, music quality and does the preaching make them feel good.
      • It seems overall the interaction between brothers and sisters in the Lord is becoming less and less important.

Lack of biblical love

After considering each of these issues and their effect on the church body the answer that I have come up with as to what the greatest challenge facing the Christian church in America is the lack of biblical love shown by believers to one another. I see the lack of love, actions driven by love, as the major hurdle.  Tying love to a “feeling” is extremely shallow and does not connect with what Jesus and the Holy Spirit have shared in the Word of God.  Love is an action.

Here are some scriptures to consider and set the stage for my answer:

  • John 15:12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
  • 1 John 4:12 No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.
  • 1 Peter 1:22 Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart,
  • 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NKJV Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. (2)  And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  (3)  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

Overall what I have been witnessing within the church community is a move towards church services that:

  • Greater dependence on music to create a value
  • Greater dependence on “feeling” to establish relationship with our Lord
  • Greater dependence on visual presentation of materials to establish validity and impact

As the church seems to have moved towards greater dependence of the above items when Christian are judging the value of belonging to a particular church or if a church service was impactful or not, the following have tended to become less important:

  • The actual Word of God. Scriptures are cherry picked to promote the preachers message or belief and not taken in context of full text or situation the text was initially written.
    • Example: Isa_53:5  But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. & 1Pe_2:24  who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.  These versus are often used to support physical healing when the actual context is spiritual healing.
  • Basing the value of a church body or service on Biblical truth being taught, environment where discipleship grows, and full functioning body (member literally all working together to perform the will of God for the body).
  • Personal interaction between members of the body that allows each person the environment to care for help other members, to edify one another.
    • What drives a saint to assemble together for a church service it the feeling of responsibility for the other members, that you can give and not receive.

We have been commanded by our Lord to love one another as He loved/loves us.  Example of what God tells you and I to:

  • To look around the church body you are presently attending and allow the Spirit of God to flow through you in a way that whatever face you look into, you are able to prefer their needs over your own.
    • This becomes a challenge for churches as we tend to hang and interact with our friends and minimize our involvement with the others. This especially a challenge for churches over 100 people.
      • Involvement in small groups can help.
    • Treat all those within the body in a loving way that stands apart from the way the world treats one another. Joh_13:35  By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
      • Ask yourself what could a brother or sister in the Lord do to or for you that your friends, family or neighbors would take notice of. Then when in this mindset begin placing faces of those you go to church with and what you can do.

What the lost are seeing in the local church is we often are not fulfilling what God has commanded.

They see us as acting just like them and in turn they do not witness the power of God active in a person’s life.  Not only are they not witnessing our love in the local assembly, but what do you think the non-believers think when the see absolutely no love between churches.  They see the judgement and competition between us, not the love.

To conclude, please consider praying on how to love one another, care for one another.  If Jesus literally was in the flesh in the church you attend, would you feel and know that He would be their when you needed?  Well, He said we were to love others as He loved us…for us to be Christ like then how should we live and act with those around us.

We need to grasp this commandment more than ever as the times and society are becoming more challenging by the day…

May God Bless You, John

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