The times we live in are growing increasingly difficult for people to navigate. It’s hard to ignore the cultural and societal breakdown. The wicked seem to flourish, and the righteous increasingly find it tougher to cope in a world where truth is called a lie and love is considered hate.
The anger in this country runs at a fever pitch, and as Christians, who claim to have citizenship in a different world, the tendency to want to fight back becomes overwhelming. Don’t we have rights? Don’t we have a mandate to right wrongs? Are we not Americans, too?
With so many conflicting voices out there, sorting through the noise takes concentration. It demands focus, a singleminded devotion to what is core—especially core to Christianity.
For that reason, I want to state the obvious, because with all the shrill voices we hear daily, what is obvious is proving harder to remember.
So here is the obvious:
Jesus Christ is Lord. Go and make disciples of all nations.
And to that I must add this one truth that we must also never forget:
Any other mission is a distraction.
Do we understand this? I don’t think we do. When I look at the American Church today, it looks fuzzy around the edges, out of focus, blurred. Our goals are nebulous. We’re pulled in a million directions, with each of us dedicated to some pet ministry project that doesn’t intersect any other ministry project. In addition, we daily add some other front to the culture war. We’re already fighting this agenda and that, yet each day another agenda from some godless group crops up and we have to open a new war front.
Countless Christians fight the cultural, political, and societal wars. It used to be that just raising awareness of some new sinful agenda was enough, but when that didn’t work, counterattacks had to be devised. People were encouraged to join the cause. Fires were stoked in the faithful. Write and email our congressman; demand he or she take action. Protest. Get on the picket lines. Let the world see our faithfulness by how hard we fight godless agendas. And when that fails to work, let’s get angry. Our foes are angry, so why not show them we can be even nastier. If they fight with a lit torch, then we counter with a flamethrower! They get their lawyers, but we get twice as many! Sue! File lawsuits! Shout, yell, scream! And when that doesn’t work, just do it longer and louder! Keep raising the stakes! If they want martyrs, then martyrs they shall have! Let the blood run in the streets if it has to, but the cause of Christ must be established in America, come hell or high water! And if it takes bashing a few heads to get there, then let the bashing commence!
Somewhere, amid all that seething Christian anger and frustration, buried by using the mechanisms of the world to fight the world, two vital truths at the core of everything we are to be about as Christians get lost:
Jesus Christ is Lord. Go and make disciples of all nations.
It seems to me that we Christians don’t seem to be learning that it’s not by might nor by power but by God’s Spirit. (I think God said that, so it must be trustworthy.)
The Church in America has gone off message. Fuzziness becomes inevitable. We’re not effective at stemming the tides of all these social, political, and cultural dysfunctions we want to see corrected because we’re trying to fix them apart from the core of what we are about:
Jesus Christ is Lord. Go and make disciples of all nations.
Many Christians talk about taking dominion, but the only way that dominion comes about is by meeting the enemy’s footsoldiers and converting them into Christians. If the opposing army is now on your side, you’ve won the war.
It’s so simple.
But instead of focusing on Jesus while we lead people to Him and disciple them into maturity, we Christians go all fuzzy. We dilute our efforts and our focus by going after agendas, many of them longtime agendas against which we have made little progress despite millions of hours devoted to fighting them.
What would happen if we took all the effort devoted to fighting all these fronts and devoted it to active evangelism instead? What would be gained by millions of hours of dedicated evangelism and training up new believers into Christian maturity?
I ask those questions because our country has never experienced less evangelism and discipling to maturity than in these times. Statistics show that fewer Americans attend church and have never been less interested in the Christian message than today. Not only have we lost the culture wars because we focused on them to the detriment of our core calling, but by jumping on so many bandwagons that are NOT core, the pews in our churches emptied faster than in any time in our country’s history.
Want to end abortion?
Want to stop the homosexual agenda?
Want to restore ethics to business?
Want to fight indecency all around us?
Want to restore the principles that made America a great nation?
Want to see the Church grow and lift Jesus up?
There is only one answer:
Jesus Christ is Lord. Go and make disciples of all nations.
23 thoughts on “Fuzzy Church”
thank you sooo much for this.
Amen. I am with you (your thesis) wholeheartedly and trying to share it as well.
Another Amen to this!
I have a just one question? When William Wilberforce fought to end slavery in England was he distracted or led by God?
Although I believe that the Gospel is the number one thing, I do believe that God calls some to lead the fight to stop horrible practices such as child sacrifice.
God bless you.
The differences between Wilberforce and now are quite extreme. When you sit down an chart out those differences, the Wilberforce example becomes far less applicable.
In the case of abortion, we had all the elements in place to get Roe thrown out, and nothing happened. Popular sentiment in favor of slavery was waning quickly in England, but in America, while Americans say they are not in favor of abortion, they practice it all the same. Worse, the generation coming up does not share that same distaste for abortion.
This is entirely a heart issue now, Don. Americans are hardhearted. And if you yell louder and push more inflammatory agendas in the face of hardhearted people, they only grow more hardhearted. Militancy is not the answer.
The pro-life movement has largely been a failure. And it’s not for trying. As you know, I was in Operation Rescue and was part of several rescues. I got arrested. I did the civil disobedience. The problem is that none of that got abortion stricken from the books. It was, in short, a failure (on the national level, as it was obviously successful in those few cases where women had second thoughts and chose life—but ultimately a saved child here and there is not the goal of the pro-life movement: it’s overturning Roe).
We have nearly 40 years of media-worthy tactics employed by the pro-life movement that have resulted in practically nothing. In fact, Roe has never been more safe. No serious challenges ever even made it to the floor of any political chamber. Using the same methods that failed and just cranking them up another notch or two is NOT going to change anything. It is doomed to fail.
There is only one way to get Roe overturned: Convert Roe supporters to mature Christians. Only Christ can turn a hardhearted person into one with a heart of flesh. Shoving more pictures of aborted fetuses into the faces of Roe supporters (or even those people on the fence) will NOT change their hearts. It won’t.
Again, if Christians want to destroy the works of the devil, the only way that is guaranteed is to convert the devil’s footsoldiers into Christians. I guarantee that enough converted people will tip the balance in favor of getting Roe overturned. Guarantee. Nothing else worked and nothing else will work in the future. Forty years has told us that.
Lastly, while we were out unsuccessfully fighting the culture wars, our pews emptied out. We forgot our primary calling to make disciples. And fewer Christians is NOT going to help us win the culture wars. Not only that, but increased militancy on our part in the culture war, growing more desperate and shrill, is not going to win us any converts, either.
before they went about their business they tarried and received power and went about declaring change your way of thinking the Kingdom of God is at hand … that making disciples is not to be confused with making converts to a particular denomination, that discipleship does not equal uniformity and a trip along the Roman Road …. a Navigator course, that programs have not replaced the Holy Spirit …. yes they went, into the world with a Kingdom mandate.
I think similar thoughts whenever I hear a well-known Christian lawyer who has a daily program on Christian (I was going to put that in quotes, but thought better of it) radio stations. He has a daily call to action for some perceived Christian injustice, urging people to call their representatives. There is also a daily demand for money to help take the cause to the courts. Yet, there is never a reminder that “Jesus Christ is Lord. Go and make disciples of all nations.” There is never a call to prayer as a body.
Isn’t it ironic that his current battle is against the attack against the national day of prayer?
I read David Limbaugh’s Persecution and was just sickened that the answer to every minor injustice against American Christians (such as not listening when they wanted books removed from a school library) was met with one response: sue.
We are so off base. Perhaps the American Civil Religion has completely engulfed the American Church.
I disagree with your reasoning on a more than one point. Proverbs 28:4 says, “They that forsake the law praise the wicked: but such as keep the law contend with them.” I am fully persuaded that God leads some Christians to “contend” with those who forsake the law. My only beef with some of those groups is they don’t use the Scriptures at all or less than they should. Regardless of their hardheartedness, Christianity needs to tell them, there needs to be a faithful witness that this is murder. Jeremiah and Ezekiel incorporated the sin of child sacrifice in their prophetic messages to Judah that they were sinning against God and facing judgment. There are 24 million men women and children in this country that attend Main line denominational churches that are advocates of child sacrifice. The United Methodist Church is one of the and so is the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) as is the United Church of Christ. There are others. These churches need to hear what God says about their allegiance to this abomination. I agree , Jesus is Lord, and go and make disciples of all nations first, but within that calling I believe that there are some called to fight the injustice of abortion.
I love you brother,
I don’t think Dan is criticizing legitimate prophets who prophesy to America about her sins. He is criticizing political movements that don’t bring people to Jesus and disciple them. It reminds me of the story about a liberal journalist who interviewed movers and shakers of the Religious Right. These evangelicals went on and on about their pet issues, abortion right up there among them. But one of the interviewees — only one — asked the journalist if she knew what the Gospel meant. The journalist did not, so the interviewee preached the Gospel to her.
That’s just sad, dude.
Proverbs 28: 4 They that forsake the law praise the wicked: but such as keep the law contend with them.
This is not saying that those that forsake the law also praise the wicked, it’s saying that the act of forsaking the law praises the wicked. On the other hand the act of keeping the law IS contending with the wicked.
PS: I’m not saying that your position is wrong, I’m pointing out that Proverbs 28:4 is not saying what you think it is saying. Perhaps you can post some Bible verses that would more concisely prove your point?
The Church is NT. It’s about Christ, not the law. That’s the whole point of the Gospel—and the Great Commission.
I agree, the law Proverbs is referring to is something different and should not be confused with the duty and responsibility of today’s Christian. So, what is the law for christians in this dispensation?
Luke 10:26 He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? 27And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. 28And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.
John 13:34A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
1 John 2:3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. 4He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. 6He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.
7Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning. 8Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. 9He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. 10He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. 11But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.
Let me say one more thing. There is good fruit occurring because of the pro-life movement. Here is a link to a perfect example.
Two old aphorisms:
“The good is the enemy of the best.”
“You can’t get blood from a turnip.”
No culture war battlefront will be won trying to change the hearts and minds of people who are not born again. The answer to the problem will always be Jesus. If we are not giving people Jesus, then our good intentions have become an enemy of the Great Commission.
Look at the track record of Christians fighting the culture war instead of evangelizing the lost:
Stopping casino gambling – FAILED
Stopping state lotteries – FAILED
Stopping pornography – FAILED
Stopping homosexual marriage – FAILED
Stopping obscenity in the recording industry – FAILED
Overturning Roe v. Wade – FAILED
Stopping secularization in public spaces – FAILING
Stopping attacks on age of consent laws – FAILING
Stopping plural marriage and other deviant marriage forms – FAILING
Lowering the rate of teens having sex before marriage – TRENDING TOWARD FAILING
It’s a litany of failure, Don. And I would propose it’s a litany of failure because God is not blessing the good because He wants us to pursue the best instead. That best is evangelizing the lost and making disciples. If we do that, EVERY BATTLE WILL BE WON AT ONCE.
When I quoted Proverbs 28:4 I wasn’t trying to incorporate the law into the New Covenant, rather I was applying a wisdom proverb to the argument, and I do believe it applies perfectly.
Dan, I am a New Covenant believer and I know you know that. I have been a Christian for almost 34 years and during that 33+ years my primary purpose in life has been first to please God but also to win the lost. I have had the privilege of leading family members and work associates to Christ, praying for them to receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in other tongues, because that is what I’m about. Also during those 33+ years, when I would present the gospel many varied Biblical issues would also come up, including abortion, and it would be discussed with a Scriptural foundation, primarily from the Old Testament. Was I, trying to incorporate the law into my presentation of the gospel? No, I was attempting to to show a well rounded Biblical world view about the issue. What I’m trying to say is this, while I have evangelized the lost I have also fought culture wars. My priority is evangelizing the lost but because of the cultural slide during my Christian life I have been forced to choose sides on cultural issues. Dan, we don’t agree on this, but I cherish you as my brother and when I see you Sunday I want to give you a hug because I love you and the Jesus in you.
I don’t see where Dan was saying not to fight the cultural war. What I do see him saying is that the fight has become the primary expression of Evangelical Christianity in this country. Our primary expression as Christians, as you point out, should be to reach others for Christ. An extension of that, because we are Christians with a Biblical worldview, is to let that worldview influence our politics as Americans. However, that extension is not our primary fight. We are blessed to live in a country where we can express our beliefs in the voting booth, but that voting booth should not be our primary tool from a Kingdom standpoint.
Don, you said “Was I, trying to incorporate the law into my presentation of the gospel? No,…” That’s odd, I try to incorporate the Law into the presentation of the gospel…. Just like Jesus did in Luke 10:26 or Paul did on Mars Hill etc etc..
How can they get saved without knowing that they are lost? How can they get lost without the Law? I hope that I’m misunderstanding what you are saying because your comment deeply concerns me. You could show me a hand full of verses that you use to win people to your doctrinal position and your fellowship but I could give you dozens of verses that teach repentance towards God and faith in Jesus Christ. In short, no repentance= no salvation… no Law= no repentance. Sure you can get people to repeat a prayer and join your church and do all the things you think they should do but without a Godly sorrow that works repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, all you are doing is winning converts of the Matthew 7:21 verity.
I appreciate your concern but I’m not one of those who just says repeat after me. I believe sincere repentance is a part of the new birth. I like what John the Baptist said in Matthew 3:8, “Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:” I use many Old Testament passages in my witnessing and when I teach Bible study, to show how God feels toward things,but I don’t incorporate the law into the gospel.
1 Timothy 1:8But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully;
9Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,
10For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;
11According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.
The law is already incorporated into the gospel. I can think of example after example, in the NT, where the witness used elements of the law (10 commandments) to bring the knowledge of sin.