Just as it was in Jeremiah's time, the Church is in an awkward, perhaps even an appalling and dysfunctional state:
I am with you and will save you, declares the LORD. Though I completely destroy all the nations among which I scatter you, I will not completely destroy you. I will discipline you but only with justice; I will not let you go entirely unpunished. This is what the LORD says: Your wound is incurable, your injury beyond healing. There is no one to plead your cause, no remedy for your sore, no healing for you. Jeremiah 30:11-13
Can this be a prediction of the church in America too? I believe it may; I pray it is not! Nevertheless, I also believe we can turn it around by repenting from our self-motivated desires and accepting His call and purpose for His Church. The Church may just be in such an awful state that we will receive judgment or else be left to our own selves, with which we will and are doing a great job of self-destruction.
Through Christ, we have grace; and, we have hope if we will return from our self-directed focus and ways and go to His focus and ways. But, if we keep relying on blind shepherds, we will have so many blind sheep we will fall into a pit of our own destruction and ruin. God will heal His Church if we respond to Him with repentance and the expectancy of His grace. But, will the strong-willed, self-powered, so-called leaders and evangelists respond? Or, are they too far into themselves and their self-seeking money-grabbing desires? And, what about the regular, local church leader and pastor who just does not "get it?" Will the church step up to the promise of His call, yielding to Christ's Lordship and supremacy, or will we go it alone (Colossians 1:15-19)? Read Jeremiah 30:13-14 and ask yourself how you can respond. Pray for the deceivers so they too can seek the Scriptures and ask the questions and in so doing, realize their folly and repent. Intimate, personal surrender to His holiness is a must for every Christian leader; and the response is intimate care for His sheep-with their eyes opened wide. Let us confess our own sins and seek to regroup in Him, reconcile to others, and do our churches right-His Way.
We cannot depend on blind shepherds; we must get involved and be the change makers that move people, by the power of Christ, beyond self and toward His direction and call. Individual Christians can make the difference because together we are the Church. God's Word says He will provide the godly shepherds; we must seek them out or actually be them if so called, and not respond to the false deceivers. Leave those frauds alone and they will go away. Let the Lord be in charge-not us with our selfish inclinations.
The Problem of Being Out of Touch
I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Matthew 10:16
Too many churches are out of touch with the society in which they dwell, and are arrogant toward the people they should be reaching. We as a Church must revolutionize our core values and who we are. We need to take a hard look at what the Scriptures really say for us to do, and not rely on our experiences or what we have done in the past. What is going to happen on the Day of Judgment? Will we hear "well done good and faithful servant," or will we hear "get away, I never knew you?" Harsh, you may say; no, I do not think so!
The United States is now the third largest mission field in the world. Only India and China have more non-believers. (Mission America Monthly 1/98 page 1)
Yes, we can get turned around quite easily, placing our trust in the institution of the Church instead of the Savior, Christ, as Head of the church. There is no true, perfect Church, because we are in the process of growth and learning. This is true for those of us who know theology, but to the non-Christian and the non-discipled Christian, there is no distinction. Misplaced faith will greatly disappoint. So, what are you going to do about it? The church is society's view of Christ. So, we must strive to model Christ as truly the Head, and we as His ambassadors as 2 Corinthians 5:20 tells us. The expectations are not unrealistic; they are commands directly from Christ in Matthew 28! Disillusioned exceptions and frustrations are our failure as the representative body of Christ-not the decline of society. You see, we are the society; when we blame our own culture, we are in fact, blaming ourselves. When we complain about the problems of culture, we are the culture since over 40% to upwards of 50% of Americans claim to attend a church; therefore, the blame is mostly on us.
"If I have seen further it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants." Sir Isaac Newton
Above article is an excerpt from the Book Pew Sitting
© 1999, Richard J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org