We need smart Christians. I don’t presume to be one, but I would hope that these writings are a gateway to an intelligent Christianity in a world of halfway church and compromised truth in the name of “progress”.
Spiritual warfare is serious business, and many of today’s most popular teachers talk plenty about the stance we need to take against “the enemy” and how we must “speak over” our fears in the name of Jesus. While I find much of their speech pretentious, mostly because it suggests a stance of authority that belongs to Christ alone, who we should be submitting to in all situations, the reality of a constant spiritual battle is certainly evident.
However, I think we need to spend more time emphasizing a more destructive melee that occurs every week across the country behind the pulpit and away from the pews. The most destructive force against the spread of Christianity today is the knee-bashing and outright bludgeoning happening inside of churches once the Bible is shut on Sunday mornings.
How is it possible that one book can generate so much dissension? Certainly the Word is a sharp instrument that divides, but does it have to cut the body into pieces as well? If you’re unaware that it happens, start paying attention.
Acts 14, among other portions of the book, discusses the destructive actions of the Jews of the time, but we can draw parallels between them and the Christian opposition that occurs in churches everywhere.
I’m not suggesting compromise or tolerance, which seems to be the current trend. Instead, the “everyday” Christian needs to get real and stand on their convictions, to recognize the Holy Spirit’s leading and heed the truth of the Bible. This is what Trapword strives to promote.
Here are some ways the people of church can be destructive.
Lack of persistence
What Paul does in the face of opposition in the Bible is astounding and should be emulated by pastors across the country. Unfortunately, many ministers bend and fold to cater to their congregations, hoping to keep those seats warm and the collection plate full. I see their point; they gotta pay their bills, but in the name of what?
Throughout Acts, Paul constantly delivers the truth to the synagogues in the area, knowing the consequences beforehand. Are we being persistent? Or is the task too inconvenient, jeopardizing our reputation as agreeable people?
Not making time
It seems like everyone is “too busy” for everything. Church, actual Bible study, and prayer are often victims of prioritization, and this is the unfortunate consequence of a lack of discipleship and accountability. We’ve got too much to do, and our fellow Christians get the shaft because no one is around to offer a hand. The result is bitterness and a lack of unity.
It’s written that Paul “stayed there a long time” to teach the people of Iconium. How much time are you spending with people that need to know what love and truth look like? A church invitation and spiritual adages aren’t enough.
Catering to opposition
I think too many church leaders are afraid to bring the hammer from the pulpit because, if they make any particular stance on a controversial subject, there’d be empty chairs the following Sunday. The average Christian who consistently attends church becomes inherently weak-kneed and does exactly the same thing when approaching difficult spiritual truths, nodding their head at everything that sounds honest regardless of its veracity.
When Paul discovers the Jews are stirring it up, he just leaves. He would eventually return to check on the faithful ones, but Paul doesn’t want to waste his time with people that simply are not going to listen.
Nobody likes to be wrong. But when Christians, leaders or otherwise, avoid hearing correction, we’re on the road to serious division and compromise. Especially if it comes from the top, two parties end up developing: those who humble themselves before God, and those who relentlessly stick to their guns. I think too many of us are more concerned with being right in our own sight and too arrogant to acknowledge when we’re wrong to make a change.
Paul is shown attempting to redirect the people of Lystra to the true God, yet they insist that the men who performed miraculous signs before them are actually Zeus and Hermes. They take it to a level that obstructs Paul’s ability to effectively preach in the city, even endangering his life. The masses of church-goers likewise need to know when to submit to authority, and leaders must check themselves frequently and hold themselves accountable.
Paul returns to Antioch to encourage the believers there, then elects people to oversee the ministry without haste. The writer makes a point to say that these guys are committed to the Lord, not just some dudes that had a good reputation.
It’s scary when we get excited about converts at church, yet no real discipleship or follow-up occurs. Discipleship is imperative, and we must recognize this before Christianity, particularly in America where distractions abound, becomes a wayside belief system. Furthermore, pastors need to make responsible decisions about who to appoint as leaders if they expect church to stay cohesive.
I hope that what you’ve read today prompts you to make definitive changes, and perhaps we can curb the destruction within church walls from the inside out.