Are you a Christian that is cynical about the Church in America?
Are you not a Christian and are cynical about Christianity – even though you believe Jesus was a real and authentic person?
Where is the Church while government is perpetrating evil on America? Or when government orders police to stand down during rioting, looting, burning and imminent danger of it’s citizens? Most Christian leaders are telling their flock to submit to this.
What’s going on?
These scary and tumultuous days are a time for Christianity to be the Light of the world, yet too much of the Church is hiding in fear. Many Christian leaders are preaching over the Internet, submitting to the government according to Romans 13. Yet, the very same passage states the government is ordained by God to be a minister of God to us for good, an avenger of wrath against evil.
“For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake.”
Romans 13:3-5 NASB
“Therefore” means, “and because of this”. Because the government is a minister of God to the citizens and is to use the sword of righteousness against evil, we should submit to their authority. Do you notice “minister of God” is stated twice? It is emphasized.
Why is this text overlooked? Is it that churches are in some way muzzled, beholden to the government against speaking out? Is it fear of reprisal? Why shouldn’t politics and the government, large parts of our culture, be a topic of sermons in the same way as other aspects of our culture? Is it possible our churches are fearful of losing the 501(c)3 designation?
The Church on the Battlefield
Recently, I was in a Zoom meeting with ten strong, healthy men of God doing an Internet meeting instead of meeting together. At one point I spoke out that the Church is called by God to be the “First Responders” in crisis. I had seen a TV commercial giving praises to the first responders for selflessly serving those with Covid-19. The impression popped into my head, “The Church is called to be The First Responder in crisis”. One man in our group was taken aback momentarily and stated that it was a word from God. It was to me as well when I heard it.
The Church is told not to forsake gathering together. This means in person. This is how a body functions. The Church comes together to worship God, be discipled in the Word, function in our spiritual gifts and roles, receive communion, lay hands on the sick, pray for one another, baptize new believers, reconcile broken relationships, encourage one another, and so much more. The Church is to be front and center, countercultural, and a visible reflection of Jesus Christ in the community. The Church is to be strong and courageous in times of crisis because our faith is in Christ and eternity. Our citizenship is in heaven, not this world. The authentic Church has the authority and the power in Christ to be The Hospital to help people navigate the storms in their lives and provide wisdom to those seeking answers to the madness and evil. It is in crisis where the truth of the Gospel shines brightest. The light of Christ’s Church should be evident in our communities, not hidden under a bushel or behind electronic firewalls to protect ourselves.
The Church is where believers in Christ are sent out to be salt and light to a distasteful and dark culture. The Church is the beacon of love, hope, healing, restoration, and salvation – where fear, disease, brokenness, grief and death is rampant. How is this accomplished without assembling and without fearless faith? Jesus is the hope of the world, and Christians are the hands and feet of Jesus. Jesus would not be encouraging the Church to lock their doors, nor would the apostles of the first church be telling their flock to stay home and wait for the sermon transcripts.
America’s doctors and nurses are risking their lives to serve the physically sick in hospitals. The fact that the Church, The Hospital of Life, and the body of Christ do not feel conviction about being AWOL from the front lines, ready to give the reason for our hope in Christ, is an indictment to the Church. Jesus Christ admonishes the Church of Sardis in Revelation 3:
“To the angel of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”
Revelation 3:1-6 NASB
“But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments [worldliness, apathy, complacency]; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.” (I can’t help but think about what “soiling our britches” means in today’s vernacular. It seems like the Church in America is soiling their britches in the face of government tyranny.) These are very strong words. Generally, not the Jesus Christ being preached in America. By the way, where are the TV faith healers and the self-proclaimed Apostles? By now you should have eradicated COVID-19.
It’s time to repent of fear. It’s time to repent of worldliness. It time to be the ambassadors of Christ we are called and commanded to be. Our Home isn’t here.