Do American Christians Want to Be the Church?


Church gone fuzzyFor all the handwringing about half-hearted evangelism and declining church attendance…

For all the lamentations about lack of community…

For all the conflicting PR about organic, emerging, institutional, house, simple, and traditional churches…

For all the grousing about spiritual gifts, cessationism, charismania, and talents…

And for all the preoccupation with politics, Kardashians, Dancing with the Stars winners/losers, sports fanaticism, the “right” schools, the future, the Consitutution, police states, ISIS, endless End Times “prophecies,” and every last minuscule thing that has precious little to do with being a Child of God…

I am increasingly concerned that Christians in America have no desire to be the Church. We just don’t.

We talk like we do, but it’s mostly talk.

I confess that this is true of me as well. I am not exempt. I talk big, but I struggle to find ways to make the things I talk about work. I think this is true of most people in America. Something must be done; now if someone would just do it…

It may also be true that the systems we have in place that make American Christianity what it is only complicate being a genuine Christian attempting to live as the genuine Church.

But Americans have a way of making the things they value most work and work well—which is why I wonder if we truly value being the Church.

Do we wake up and immediately ask God to make us the Church? Is that such a burning concern for us that we give it the priority it deserves?

It’s not that we don’t love God or Jesus or the Holy Spirit. It’s that we’re not so sure about people. The vertical still has value. The horizontal, not so much.

Let’s get real, though: If the horizontal isn’t there, is the vertical? Or are we fooling ourselves?

Then there are the endless battles…

For all the talk of trying to preserve the Church in America by taking on the culture and standing up for what is right, have we really preserved anything? Or did “fighting the good fight of Faith” lead us into the wrong battlefields, allowing our flanks to be decimated? Do we now find ourselves in a position where our soldiers are walking away and going back to their homes, weary and looking for something, anything, to distract them from realities they can no longer face because their wingmen went home too?

How many people out there are asking if they can do this anymore? How many have already decided they can’t?

Does anyone care?

Maybe this post is too grim. Maybe it’s not grim enough.

As for me, I think some people still care. I just don’t know if they have enough momentum to steer anyone else their way. Maybe the final outcome was always the remnant, and this is what it looks like.

I admit that I don’t have any answers beyond what I’ve posted here already on Cerulean Sanctum.

It just seems to me that somewhere we went off the rails, and instead of working to rectify the situation, we wandered off, distracted. Maybe this is the “powerful delusion” the Bible speaks of. Maybe we Americans who profess to know the Lord are falling under its spell too.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it’s not as dire as I think it may be. God knows I want to be wrong on this issue.

Do we Americans really care about being the Church? If we still do, how do we prove it?

Maybe you have an answer. If so, please comment.

Grown-Cold Love


And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
— Matthew 24:4-13

Anymore, I’m always hearing about these being the last of the Last Days. With the Mayan calendar nonsense sucking in Christians and with handwringers already lamenting the as-yet-undecided outcome of the 2012 presidential election, apocalypse now isn’t just a movie title.

cold heartOne of the characteristics most noted of the degenerates that will run amok during the Last Days is the fact that their love for God will have grown cold.

But wait a second. As much as we can’t stop talking about Those Other Guys Who Are Most Definitely NOT Us and their grown-cold love for God, are we reading that passage correctly?

Does it really say that the love of many for God will grow cold?

No, it doesn’t delineate what that love is or for whom. We are the ones reading God into that passage.

The fact is, the Bible never attempts the fission of love into factions, love for God versus love for people. Indeed, it explicitly states we must avoid that separation:

If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.
— 1 John 4:20

Could that possibly be more clear?

So how is it that we almost never talk of falling away from God in terms of falling away from loving other people?

And how is it that the comments on so many Christian websites are filled with supposed lovers of God channeling their ire toward their brothers and sisters in clearly hateful ways? How is it that supposed lovers of God can so gleefully rejoice when a foe gets his comeuppance? How is it that supposed lovers of God can be downright cheerful at the prospect of bombing other people “back to the Stone Age”?

I would suggest that perhaps the better way to determine if our love has grown cold is to ask how much we love people outside our immediate families, especially those we view as sinners. Even better, how much do we love our enemies? If the answer is not much, then perhaps we have already fallen away, no matter how loudly we sing in church or how many chapters of our Bibles we read religiously each day.

If we want to take the pulse of our times, if we want to be on the cutting edge of calling these the last of the Last Days, then perhaps the reality that most of us can’t get along with other people at all says more about the state of our souls than any other test for Christian perfection.

Because it’s not enough to talk about love for God growing cold. If those of us who claim we love God can’t even muster a warm smile for the checkout girl at the grocery store, then all the claims for loving God we espouse till we’re blue in the face won’t hide the fact that we have fallen away and don’t even know it.