“That’s what’s wrong with the church today,” said the student’s Facebook status. What could bring such strong condemnation?
Other students had been sharing the Gospel on campus at Montevallo earlier that afternoon and had approached this particular student. He was offended that they claimed to have the answer, Jesus, and that they claimed everyone needed that answer.
He found their evangelism to be “divisive” and their claims that their “beliefs were superior” to be arrogant.
He said that what’s wrong with the church is that it “feels it knows what’s best for everyone.”
I’m reminded of a conversation I had with a senior citizen from one our churches a few weeks ago. “I’m afraid some of our young people don’t want to come to church anymore, because they feel we’re judgmental,” she said.
I responded that we are moving far beyond being thought of as merely judgmental in our culture. Increasingly our culture sees the church not just as judgmental but as hateful.
As we take stances that are biblically sound but culturally unpopular, the church will continually be seen as the enemy or even as “the bad guy.”
This should not be surprising. Peter warns of just such a situation arising. “Don’t be surprised when the fiery ordeal comes among you to test you as if something unusual were happening to you. … If anyone suffers as a ‘Christian,’ he should not be ashamed but should glorify God in having that name.” (1 Peter 4:12, 16, HCSB).
Jesus, himself, says “You will be hated by everyone because of My name” (Matt. 10:22, HCSB).
In the U.S., we have not arrived at the kinds of persecution the church of the first century faced, yet our response should be the same as those early brothers and sisters were called to.
Is that to capitulate to the culture’s demands? Certainly not. Is that to fan the flames of conflict with fiery rhetoric? No, though there will be those who pursue such a response.
We are instead called to embrace those that hate us with the love of Christ and the truth of the Gospel.
“What’s wrong with the church today?” may be answered in a thousand ways from a thousand perspectives, but it will never be true that we earnestly shared Christ and the Gospel too much. That would be one criticism, however, that we could glorify God in having!
Pray for students (and the church) to be “wrong” in the world’s eyes if it means sharing the truth of the Gospel that the world so desperately needs!