These are just a few instances where Jesus “judged” that people had committed sin and clearly called them to stop sinning. Was Jesus being a hypocrite for telling people not to judge and then judging people Himself? Of course not. In fact, Jesus was showing us exactly how to judge other people.
I’ve been having this conversation more with people who are curious about this particular group. It’s becoming noticeable that the “dones” are rapidly growing into an easily recognizable group. Whereas at one time a few people knew someone who was once solidly committed to their faith but has since walked away. Now, many people such a person. In fact, you might talk to that person often and not even know it.
The “dones” exist because the church is broken. Now, we’ve all known the church is broken for a long time. And no one of any kind of theological depth would expect it to be anything but broken. The church is filled with sinful humans that, despite the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, continue to sin. But the church is also broken because it has morphed into something it was never meant to be.
I wrote not long ago about mean people in the church. Sadly, if you’ve been going to church for any length of time, you’ve had an encounter with someone that is known to be mean.
It seems I’m not alone in my discouragement over the growing number of mean people (and mean churches) that give Christ and His church a bad name. In fact, if you’ve never read about “The Dones,” you will find it fascinating. This group, which is the fastest growing group of people is characterized as: once faithfully committed church members walking away from the church because they are tired of the abuse inside the church.
One common trait among The Dones that I have noticed is that they say they are fed up with the mean-spirited, abusive people in the church. One person recently wrote a letter to Lifeway President Thom Rainer saying:
“The non-Christians I associate with are much nicer people than the members of my church.”
As stinging a comment as that may be, it is also very true in many cases. I’ve often said that church people are some of the meanest I’ve ever known. An old adage says “if you want to learn to fight, join a church committee.” I didn’t say it was a good adage.
The distraction of keeping everyone happy comes from a fear that if people aren’t happy they will leave our church and go elsewhere. Because many churches are struggling to grow and having financial issues the task of keeping everyone happy (and tithing) takes precedence. Though they might not say it out loud, many pastors are afraid that someone might leave their church, not realizing that having people leave their church might be the best thing for the church.
Wait a minute. Did I just say it might be good for someone to leave the church? As a pastor that seems like an odd thing to say. Even more odd would be the statement that not only is it a good thing for people to leave, it might be what is best for that person and the church as a whole.
That’s a question I’ve given a lot of thought to lately and the conclusion is that there is considerable difference. First let’s describe what “going to church” looks like and then talk about what it means to “be the church.”
Going to church is little more than checking a box on a to-do list and believing that you have done your duty. A person who sees church as something you go to is missing the fact that every Christian IS the church.
The typical church where people see going to church as the primary objective is often characterized in a number of ways.
First, the church has an inward focus. This is true because the members are focused on going to church and church is what happens inside the walls of the church building. So the primary focus becomes what church members do inside the church building on Sunday. The lack of external focus inevitably leads to stagnation, starvation, and death. Thom Rainer recently wrote that the most common factor in declining churches is “an inward focus.”
I’ve been following the judicial activism in states with traditional marriage laws as federal judges, acting alone, usurp the will of the people and enact sweeping changes unilaterally. For previous comments on states that have had marriage redefined for them within the past year or so, scroll down to see an earlier post. (Or click here for my first post on the subject.)
The first post centered around 13 states – conservative states – where marriage was being threatened by judicial activism. Since that first post, much has changed. Two more states were added, Georgia and Wisconsin. Of the original 13 both Utah and Indiana have now had marriage redefined for them – along with Wisconsin.
All in all this means that 15 conservative states where marriage laws protected natural, one man one woman marriage by a vote of the people have now had those laws wiped out by a single judge. That fact should trouble ever freedom loving American that believes our Constitution stands as a barrier to such radical activism.
For news regarding the decision in Indiana you can click here. For news on what is happening in Wisconsin you can click here. For news on what is happening in Utah you can click here.
What is striking about each of these cases is the similarities, or relative similarities in each state. If you look closely at the list you will notice these are all predominantly conservative states. Each of these states embraces more traditional values and beliefs regarding a wide range of issues, including marriage. Each of these states tends to elect conservative leaders for both federal and state office. While certain exceptions exist these states are similar in their values, beliefs, politics, and governance.
I predicted that West Virginia would soon be added to this list. There is currently a lawsuit in federal court challenging the legality of West Virginia’s DOMA law. West Virginia doesn’t even have a constitutional amendment defining marriage because our lawmakers would not allow such an amendment to be added to the ballot in 2010 when it was requested. So the only thing preventing marriage from being redefined in West Virginia is our DOMA law, which is currently being challenged by several homosexual couples from Kanawha and Putnam counties. It’s only a matter of time before a federal judge redefines marriage for all of West Virginia unless the people pressure our lawmakers to take action. (Although, don’t count on Gov. Tomblin to sign any laws protecting marriage even if he does profess to be “pro-traditional marriage.” We see how his “pro-life” conviction worked out.)
Maybe you missed the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. last week. It certainly did not gain a lot of media attention as they continue their complicit partnership with the abortion industry. But hundreds of thousands of people braved cold temperatures to march in the nation’s capitol showing their support for life.
The photos below show one striking feature about the force behind the pro-life movement. While the media tries to claim it is old men seeking to “oppress women,” these photos reveal an enormous number of young people, and women. In other words, those driving the pro-life movement are young people and women that have been impacted by abortion in some way.
One thing many Christians struggle with is sharing the Gospel with their lost friends, neighbors, and co-workers. Many feel unprepared, insecure, or fear they will be yelled at by people that don’t want to hear about Jesus. Regardless of the reasons why we often don’t share the good news with others, the fact remains that we are called to do so an need to intentionally find ways to witness to others.
As the homosexual movement becomes a more prominent issue in our society Christians need to be prepared to share the Gospel with those identifying as gay. Every person, created in the image of God, is lost in their sin without the redemptive, saving grace of Christ. That means that whether someone is a drug addict, a thief, homosexual, or a really nice person that simply doesn’t know Jesus; all are lost and in need of the Gospel.
For anyone that is wondering where to start or how to go about sharing the Gospel with someone that is gay, help is on the way. The reality is that you really only need to be honest, loving, and allow the grace and truth is Scripture to speak through you. You don’t need a theological education, or be skilled in debate, you just need to care enough to speak and be willing to allow God to use you.