A Church on the Outskirts

The State of the Church in Our Day: A Deliberate, Willful Disassociation from the Words of Our Lord Jesus Christ

Recently, I was inspired to write this short "story" in light of the direction I am seeing the majority of the Christian church going today. The hypothetical turn of events is filled with biblical symbolism. If you are discerning, you will find them. I hope and pray that this will cause you to think deeply about whether or not you might see yourself as the character in this story.  

Through a Character's Eyes

By Greg Cooper

Imagine for a moment that you're hanging out with a crowd that says they are following Jesus  - and, you've decided to pursue Him as you see so many of your friends also doing.  You consider yourself His "disciple" after they told you about how much love He can offer you, and since you'd only heard good things about Him, you think that it is only reasonable to give it a shot.  As you're in a crowd of your peers following Him as He is teaching, you hear Him from a distance speaking great truths and wonderful promises: "I will never leave you or forsake you!" He lovingly declares.  "No weapon formed against you will prosper!  I have a place reserved for you in Heaven!".  The love emanating from this man is intoxicating.

"Wow, they were right!" You think. "This Jesus is so accommodating, loving and accepting!"  You decide instantly that you're all in and that you'll never go back.
As you move in closer as to experience a greater rush of God's love, Jesus notices you approaching along with all the others.  He makes eye contact with you among all the faces around you. As He loves you with compassionate eyes, He looks deeply into your eyes and into the depth of your very soul.  You well up with feelings of love and excitement, and as He opens His mouth to speak to you, you earnestly expect Him to bless you greatly for all the great things you've done!

Shockingly, he personally presents you with an unexpected promise, but no less profound than the previous: "Friend, if you don't turn from your wicked ways and return to Me, you will surely perish in your sins!" Your countenance sinks and you begin to squirm. "Repent!", He pleads, "or you will go to a place where there will be gnashing of teeth, and hell-fire, a place of everlasting torment, for you love the darkness more than the light!"

A hardness of soul immediately takes over you, and everything you had thought about this Man Jesus suddenly came into serious question. "How can a man who claims to be a loving God say something so unpleasant and terrible, and  also directly to me?", you think. "I thought he loved me for who I was! Am I such a bad person?"

His words fade away in the background of your pondering, and you decide that His harder truths and harsh rebukes were way too judgmental and negative, and they were also very difficult to actively listen to. You even ponder the thought that maybe He was mistaking you for someone else, and deep inside, you pretend that maybe this message is for someone else.

As Jesus opens His mouth again in continuing to warn the crowd you are part of, you make the decision to decisively stoop and cover your ears with your hands, and continue in holding them there until He is completely finished with His unpleasant rebuke.  The thought occurred to you midway through His speech that you should probably consider listening, but you realize this might mean a direct front to your own personal sinful lifestyle, of which you honestly enjoy.

Jesus continues speaking into the late hours of the night, and after He is done speaking, and when you are sure it is safe because nobody can see you - you remove your hands slowly. Looking around, your conscious is relieved as notice most of your peers removing their hands as well, and you take comfort in knowing you weren't the only one.

Because of the repercussions of drawing too close to Jesus you and your friends individually resolve to hang out on the skirts of the crowd following Jesus next time.  Being like-minded, you decide to meet up as a group and talk about some of the positive, loving messages Jesus spoke about - and what each person thinks He might of meant by them based on their own personal reasoning.  Since nearly all of you laid hands over your ears during much of His teaching the previous time, the challenging words He had spoken were all but muffled and unintelligible anyway; including them in the current conversation would be of no real value. Besides, they put a wrench in casual conversation.

The new system feels much more pleasant to everyone, and the heaviness of conviction and judgement is, thankfully, now a thing of the past. Together you resolve to normalize this new agenda, meeting after meeting, week after week, Sunday after Sunday, to keep it more positive and encouraging - as to avoid unwanted negative feelings - and as to not deter other like-minded people from joining.  Together, you work to make "church" more relevant to culture.  

You pick for yourself a relatable teacher, one who teaches the Scriptures in a way which avoids the stricter warnings Jesus talked about.  You collectively agree in writing (as a Statement of Faith) that they are never to be denied, but as in an unwritten rule you understand they are also never to be discussed in great detail either.  You resolve to shun anyone coming in who tries to talk about the harder truths Jesus spoke of, and in doing so, "protect" the positive attitude and the resolve for a life of happy living and contentment.  Within these walls of your partially opened doors of your newly formed group lives a dying body of believers, one which resides on the outskirts of Truth.  

This is the state of the majority of the Church in America today.   

Far be it from us to continue living like this!  If you see yourself in this story, perhaps this was meant just for you. Repent, and ask for God's forgiveness for going astray and not considering His words. Seek the whole counsel of God by reading and heeding all of His warnings.  Walk in the light; run from the darkness, purify yourself, submit to God and surround yourself with real Christians.  Read the bible daily, and take all of His Word seriously!

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me."

-John 14:6



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