Okay. Wow. I admit I am shaking. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt so strongly the urge to lash out, but thank goodness a verse I read in Proverbs this morning flashed in my mind.
I have taken the time to calm down, pray, and ask for the wisdom I need to respond to what I read on Facebook this morning.
I don’t want to mention the two articles specifically because I don’t want to highlight them in any way or streamline even more traffic or comments in that direction, but both were critical of the Church. Lets be clear: I know the Church is not a building, a denomination, or a people group. It is a fellowship of believers. It is people from every tribe, tongue and nation that are followers of Christ. Much of the criticism we hear is toward this organized body of believers: sinners saved by grace.
This is my response to what I read–what got me literally shaking with emotion.
Here’s the jest of one article: Has Sunday School has produced a false gospel in our children?
I know that the author was posing a question that was supposed to shock us all into reading his article. THAT’S what really gets under my skin. Some say that this type of boldness is just a way to get the attention needed to gain an audience. I don’t like it. At all.
To be painfully honest, I’m heartsick when I hear Christians, including some pastors, using profanity and crude humor under the “freedom in Christ” banner. Have they missed these verses altogether?!
Ephesians 4:29 (HCSB)
“No rotten talk should come from your mouth, but only what is good for the building up of someone in need.”
Phillipians 4:8 (HSCB)
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable–
if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise–
dwell on these things.
Comments were made that I won’t even quote in fear that someone might google them. Comments that non-Christians and prodigals LOVE to read because it supports their case against the church.
Here’s the problem with that statement:
THE CHURCH IS GOD’S IDEA!
In Matthew 12, the Pharisees were criticizing JESUS for not following the “rules” on the Sabbath. He fed his hungry disciples, healed a man with a paralyzed hand and healed a mute blind man. With His followers watching, He demonstrated the true fulfillment of the law,
“I desire mercy and not sacrifice” (verse 7)
Jesus was teaching his disciples, and all who would hear that He was Lord of the Sabbath. (verse 8) The idea that the church was formed so we could have our spiritual “needs” met falls short of God’s intended purpose:
A Generous and Growing Church:
41 So those who accepted his message were baptized, and that day about 3,000 people were added to them. 42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to the prayers.
43 Then fear came over everyone, and many wonders and signs were being performed through the apostles. 44 Now all the believers were together and held all things in common. 45 They sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as anyone had a need. 46 Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple complex, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with a joyful and humble attitude, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved.
I grew up going to Sunday School, and I can tell you that as a child, I remember very little from the sermons that were preached, but I did hear the truth of the gospel: Jesus was the Son of God who came into this world. He demonstrated His love for me by dying on a cross for my sin and the sins of the world, taking the penalty on Himself. He rose from the grave, proving He had victory over death and hell. He offered me salvation if –and only if–I asked Him for forgiveness from my sin and I placed my trust in Him and His plan for my life. I was only 12 years old, but I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was a sinner that needed a Savior and I gave my life to Him.
From the small group Bible Studies we called “Sunday School”, I learned the stories of the Bible and lessons about good and evil, right and wrong. I didn’t retain a lot of facts from the Bible, but I did retain TRUTH. What I gained from those years of attending Sunday School would plant a seed in my heart that would grow into a personal desire to study God’s Word.
My family left the church when I was about 12 years old… around sixth grade, and I can tell you that looking back, those early years did not make me a Bible scholar, but they certainly laid a spiritual and moral foundation that shaped my life. I shudder to think where I would be if I had not had that. Was any of the teaching I had as a child flawed? Yes. But only because people are flawed. GOD’S WORD IS NOT. You will not find perfection on this side of heaven. You can find, if you search for it, a loving church family that is trying, the best they know how, to love and learn and live together as a body of believers.
I am a pastor’s wife and have raised four children. We have been in two different churches and our children have been exposed to all kinds of Sunday School teachers. All human. Some more prepared than others. Some more passionate than others (for right or wrong). Each has influenced their lives to a degree that I may never know.
Here is what I do know:
l.) They (and I) will be held accountable for their words. It’s a sobering task.
“Not many should become teachers, my brothers, knowing that we will receive a stricter judgment, for we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a mature man who is also able to control his whole body.” James 3:1-2
2.) God’s Word does not return void.
“For just as rain and snow fall from heaven
and do not return there
without saturating the earth
and making it germinate and sprout,
and providing seed to sow
and food to eat,
so My word that comes from My mouth
will not return to Me empty,
but it will accomplish what I please
and will prosper in what I send it to do.”
Isaiah 55: 10-12
3.) Discipleship STARTS at home!
“Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart.
Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead.
Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
Deuteronomy 6: 4-9
4.) Every person matters and every person is responsible for the choices they make. Each must choose to follow God’s plan or their own.
“For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son,
so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.
For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world,
but that the world might be saved through Him.
Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned,
because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God.”
John 3: 16-18
5.) Spiritual growth is a personal responsibility. We can attend church our whole life and miss what God wants if we don’t have a close relationship with Him.
“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed.
You know those who taught you, and you know that from childhood you have known the sacred Scriptures,
which are able to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness,
so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
2 Timothy 3:14-16
I know that this is a long post, but I can’t apologize for this one. I have said from the beginning that this blog is my way of expressing myself. I pray that Truth is revealed and that God is honored.
I pray you can see my heart. I don’t want to come across as angry, but I do hope you see my passion for The Church. Am I the only one that still values the “teaching… the fellowship… the breaking of bread, and… the prayers”?!