With today’s media driven culture it’s hard not to know peoples opinions whether you want to know their opinion or not. Everywhere we go we are bombarded by messages such as “Vote for _________ because they support __________!” or “You can’t go wrong with _______!”. These kind of messages have me thinking. Is this how we promote churches? How many churches come across as a body of believers who have all the answers?
The conclusion I’ve come to is concerning because I see people being turned away from being a part of Christ’s body because that church believes they have everything right and aren’t willing to even be in the same room with those who believe differently. The religious atmosphere in our culture is one that blares the message “Be like us or get out. Change your life this instant or we won’t have anything to do with you”. Unity and diversity is hard to find in most churches. Matt Haynes, the preacher at the Hillcrest church of Christ in Abilene Texas said it well in a sermon when he said that unity is not uniformity. Unity does not mean that all Christians think and do the same things. Unity means that we choose to be in relationship with someone in spite of the differences we have. I believe many churches hold so tightly to traditions and beliefs that they become exclusive.
Churches would do well to learn from Romans 14:
“Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them.Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.” Romans 14:1-6,10
One observation of Christianity as it currently stands is that we as the body of Christ want people to change but we won’t allow time for that process to take place. Christians expectations of the world around them are skewed. We as people who want others to know Christ for the most part aren’t willing to journey with someone long enough to see this process come to fruition. I believe this is because many people take others rejection of the Gospel as a personal bash against them.
One thing I’ve noticed about myself is that no matter how hard I try I can’t fix or change anyone.I don’t have the power to change someone’s heart but God does. So I pray for people. That’s all I can do when I’m studying the Bible with someone in hopes that it pierces their heart. But to think we as human beings have the power to change someone gives us more power than we really have and that attitude is hurting the church. There’s a big difference in showing someone Scripture and telling someone your interpretation of it. I encourage you to let the Word of God speak for itself without offering your own commentary.
Another thing I’ve noticed is when people read Matthew 13:13-23 (the parable of the sower) they often treat everyone as if each person represents the same type of ground in the parable. This is foolish to me. You can’t expect someone to produce a “good crop” when you’re dealing with a heart filled with thorns.
I encourage you to closely examine your expectations when trying to bring people to Christ. Go into such an encounter with the realization that you can’t fix or change anyone but yourself. Don’t try to do a job that God never intended for you to do. Pray for people to follow God. Love people as God loves you.