Will We Be Faithful?

Institutions change. Structures transform. Denominations dissolve and merge, alliances shift but God – God – will always breathe new life into the faithful body of Christ. The question becomes: Will we be faithful?

I believe, with all my heart, that the church has its greatest opportunity for faith explosion since perhaps the first century. Think about it! No longer do we have to be chaplain to a broken, secular, political status quo. No longer do we have to function as spiritual chameleons in a rapidly changing cultural backdrop posing and masquerading as Christian. No one – no one – owns us. No one directs us. No one, no thing can claim a competing allegiance. We are free – FREE! – to be the people God has called us to be. We have our independent voice. Let’s use it!

Will we be so faithful?

Our text from Deuteronomy reminds us that if we love God – God; not our position, not our titles, not our wealth but God – that things will go well for us. Jesus links this text, with one from Leviticus to remind us that our greatest charge is to love God with all of our heart and our neighbor as ourselves.

And what is the promise if we do these things? Deut. 6: 3: it will go well with us. What is the promise for our church? If we do these things it will go well for us. Look at Psalm 119! God’s commandments are right; God’s law is our delight; God’s ordinances will help us. When we go wrong – and we do, don’t we? When we go wrong, it will be God’s wisdom that gets both our individual faith lives and the ministry of the church back to where God wants it.

I am not saying it is going to be easy. The life of faith rarely is. We will be tempted to go along to get along, we will be tempted to shift faith priorities to become less offensive. The spiritual buffet is out there, and it is so easy to walk the line, to take a little of this, a little of that, some comfort food here, some sweet and tasty thing there. At the end of the buffet we have traded a clear faithful Christianity for a philosophical and theological mess of our own making. 

But friends, if we hold fast – not to form or convention but to truth and conviction there is nothing we cannot overcome because the One who is in us is so much greater than any force that might be against us. Times change. Structures change. Voices change, but an eternal God moves forward.

It begins with God. With a gift. With transformation. With Holy Spirit power. With the courage to live into God’s word. Will we be faithful?

Some Thoughts On The Church

The reality is that the church has been its own worst enemy. Poll after poll shows younger Americans believing the church to be made up of judgmental hypocrites who seek to force some kind of fixed, ancient, tired dogma down their throats. They are fed up with rituals, traditions, and mindless ancient forms masquerading as authentic, relevant faith. They are tired – especially the millennials – tired of ideals compromised for political expediency. They are tired of seeing religion co-opted by manipulative politicians. They are fed up with the church, as they have experienced it. And who can blame them? I am afraid that we professionally religious types – that’s the folks who wear the robes and the collars like me – will have a lot of explaining to do when we get to heaven and see the mud that we have heaped up on the bride of Christ.

But I would suggest, that it is exactly because we have not been the church that we are supposed to be, it is exactly because we present a muddied version of the church, that confidence in the church is leaking like a sieve. We have not been what we are supposed to be. As a result, people are looking for eternity, for identity and purpose, they are looking for faith in the pretenders of our world and bypassing the only authentic expression of the body of Christ. This happens because we are presenting a stunted pretender claiming to be the church.

We need to confess where we have come up short. We need to quit relying on our own power and instead embrace the power of a Holy Spirit whose presence we celebrate on this day of Pentecost. We need to embrace the seeker, the questioner, and not be afraid to sit down over a cup of coffee and respectfully address our questions. We need to be unafraid to say, “I don’t know,” and courageous to point to the Christ that we do know. We need to present the church, in all its beauty and power, and not settle for the cheap church versions of our own making.