I recently came across this statement in a book I was reading and thought it was very insightful:
William Feather, author of The Business of Life, said, “Before it can be solved, a problem must be clearly defined.” Too many people rush to solutions, and as a result they end up solving the wrong problem. (Maxwell, John C. (2009-06-01). How Successful People Think: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life (pp. 55-56). Hachette Book Group. Kindle Edition.)
In my last post I sought to clearly identify problems that need to be addressed with the Church (Big C). While the “solution” or answer to the problem should be obvious to “The Church”, I wanted to spend a few minutes trying to make it more clear. The solution to the problem is…
There is no other answer…There is no other solution! He is the changer of hearts, the giver of life, and the only One upon whom our hope, the hope of the church, rests! With this startling and deep revelation now at the forefront of our mind let’s explore its implications within the context of last weeks post. (The problem is in regular text and the implication of Jesus as the answer is in bold.)
- We’d rather hide behind the clothes we wear rather than deal with the one who wears them! That’s called a hypocrite! We need to understand, first and foremost, NO ONE is perfect or has ever been perfect except for Jesus. Imperfection doesn’t make you a hypocrite. Pretending you don’t have issues and putting on an heir of perfection does! As Christians we shouldn’t be hypocrites, not because we are perfect, but because we are quick to admit our faults and our dependency on the grace of Christ. The Church is attractive when we admit that we have not arrived but are on a faith journey together!
- We’d rather tell EVERYONE what we are against and tell NO ONE what, or who, we are for! Jesus was for people! He came for the sick, the lame, the lost, and the least of the least. We must realize that we are in a lost and dying world. People don’t need another person to stand against them. They need someone to come along side them and show them the Way to life. The gospel is called “The Good News” because it is GOOD NEWS! The Church has done a great job of pointing out the ills of the world but we have to realize that we have been entrusted with the Gospel and that it is the cure for the ailments around us. Why? It takes us to the healer and giver of life…Jesus!
- We’d rather tell others we are free in Christ while the whole time we are shackled to the same religious bondage as the rest of American Church Culture! Jesus came to set us free! He came to set us free from sin and death and free from trying to earn our way to God through doing enough good stuff! We have to understand that our focus in our faith journey is not on what we can or can’t do, rather it is to be upon Jesus! Religion, or following a set of rules, does not bring joy or make you right with God. IT CAN’T! It is through trusting in the atoning work of Christ that we are made right with God and through our relationship with Him that we find true joy! When you focus on Jesus, the life of holiness you are called to live happens because you are connected to the life-giver. Don’t focus on the symptoms…focus on The Cure!
- We’d rather create “Christian Experiences” that please us rather than one that is attractive to the lost! Before you object to that you might want to remember that the lost were attracted to Jesus…it was the dead religious people whom He offended! WHO IS ATTRACTED TO YOU?!! We should follow the example of Jesus in this. He was always with sinners and always attractive to sinners. Why? Because that’s who He came to save! Now we are given the same mission and WE MUST be willing to create opportunities for “sinners” to hear the Good News! When the Church functions as Jesus designed it to, it is the beautiful bride of Christ! We simply need to allow others to see her beauty!
- We prefer to present the truth of the scripture in a way that is contextually irrelevant rather than in a way that someone can actually understand! It’s not about the context its about the content! The context of how the message is presented has always changed…the content (God’s Truth) never does! READ YOUR BIBLE! Jesus always spoke in a way that people could relate to. He taught lessons from everyday occurrences that He used as opportunities to communicate truth about the Kingdom of God. Not all people “got it” but it wasn’t because of the presentation. It was because they were hard-hearted and lacked “ears to hear” what the Spirit was saying to them. We must pray for clear and relevant presentation but also pray that hearts would be softened to hear and receive the Good News!
- We’d rather hide behind the excuse, “It’s always been done that way” rather than do something different to reach different people! When are we going to admit that what’s been done for the last 50-100 years is NO LONGER WORKING! The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results! If we, the Church, are serious about our mission we must be willing to do different things to reach different people. We must be constantly evaluating the effectiveness of what we are doing and be willing to change courses when God leads us to! We will either go through the uncomfortable process of change or we will die stuck in the status-quo! Jesus rocked the status-quo and was a revolutionary leader. We are called to do and be the same!
- We’d prefer to criticize others for what they are doing rather than doing something ourselves! GET OUT OF YOUR BOX…IT’S ACTUALLY VERY FREEING! I’m amazed at how the greatest critics of churches, ministries, and individuals who are doing different things to reach different people are typically people who aren’t doing anything themselves! If we would focus on our own calling and being obedient to what God has told us to do we will be much more effective than sitting on our butt criticizing others who are getting it done! Jesus took criticism but remained focused on the mission at hand! I encourage you to do the same!
- We’d prefer to complain about a Bon Jovi or Taylor Swift song played in church rather than show compassion for those who don’t know Jesus! Is your experience with God really defined by one song? REALLY??? Jesus was willing to whatever it took to reach the lost…we should be too! Once we become a follower of Jesus, life is no longer about us! That includes the worship service. I love the phrase that a friend of mine uses in regard to this. He says, “When you go to church on Sunday morning you’re on the clock! It’s not about you! You are there for other people!” This is so true and this is should be our focus everyday…not just Sunday!
- We’d prefer to put on a show on Sunday for people who have done nothing for us than live for the God who’s done everything! Who are you trying to impress with your religiosity? GET REAL! The greatest hindrance for most (including myself) in doing the will of God is the fear of man! We must realize that God has done everything for us and we should live for an audience of ONE! If God is for us who gives a crap who is against us!
- We’d prefer to listen to another message rather than ever freaking living ONE! ATTAINING KNOWLEDGE IS EASY…BECOMING LIKE CHRIST COST YOU SOMETHING! Jesus changes our hearts, but it does come at a price. The thing we must remember is that what we gain in Christ is so much greater than what it will ever cost us.