An Honest Wrestling: Part 2

If you missed the first part of this two part blog series, check out part one here: An Honest Wrestling: Part 1.

4). Anger with those who call themselves “Evangelical Christians” but are prejudice instead of reflecting the heart of God.

I think this is a big problem in much of the American evangelical church world. So much so that it has tainted the very meaning of what it means to be an “Evangelical Christian.” It is a term that now seems to be associated with “white, hypocritical, conservative, angry, judgmental, prejudice, sexist, and anti-everything people.” Sadly, I think there is too much truth in some of this, whether reality or perception. And I believe it’s because many who identify as “Evangelical Christians” are more political than truly “evangelical.” The very word “evangelical” has a root word that means “Good News” and yet we seem to only champion “bad news” in a political context.

I believe at the root of the real problem is a lack of seeing and knowing the heart of God. It’s easier to take a “position” than it is to know a person. It’s easier to take a “stand” than it is to serve. It’s easier to voice an “opinion” than it is to love those different than us. It is easier to “fight for our rights” than to lay down our lives in service to God and others. It’s easier to live in fear than to live by faith.

But I admit this shallow and cross-less and un-Christian “Christianity” makes me mad. It is poisonous and toxic. I can sympathize with those who want nothing to do with this “Christianity” because it lacks any of the real Christ, and I don’t want anything to do with it either! The real Jesus does not have an ounce of prejudice in Him, in fact He purposely breaks every human and social barrier created out of the prejudice of people’s hearts. We need a fresh revelation of the basic Gospel message and God’s heart.

However, can I say one word of caution here? If we don’t deal with our anger in a way that channels positive change, we are at risk of becoming the very thing we hate. I think there is a new prejudice emerging against conservative, white, male, evangelicals! Let’s be careful of not falling into the same stereotypes we claim to loathe in others.

5). Christians who seem to have no conviction about blatantly living in sin, rationalize it as not sinful, and side with other Christians living in sin; while turning on those, or a church, that dares to speak to the need for righteousness, truth and real biblical love.

This is the opposite problem of point number four and it is another disturbing trend. There is a shocking level of “liberal” and “loose” living among other professing Christians. The language that I am about to use is probably pretty foreign to many today, but it is true. It is also not to say that we don’t all sin or that I am being “holier-than-thou.” Trust me, spend just a day (or less) with me and that would quickly be dispelled!

But here is the issue: there is blatant disobedience among many professing to be Christians, with no sense of conviction, confession, repentance or fear of the Lord. (I have written recently more fully on this here: Where is the Conviction?) Perhaps it comes out of hurt and hardened hearts, but whatever the reason, there seems to be a shrugging off of conviction and dismissing certain parts of the Bible that don’t align with our lifestyle, instead of allowing God’s word to transform our lives.

To make matters worse, when sin is dared to be called sin, I see a lot of Christians “rallying” to those in sin as if they are the victims. And then they turn on the pastor, church leadership or church itself, that is obeying the Biblical command to exercise church discipline when a professing believer is living in unrepentant sin. None of this is easy and emotions run very high, but we need to find that place of being equally as strong on “neither do I condemn you” but also “go and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:11). Jesus came full of both “grace” and “truth.” (John 1:14).

So, on the one hand you have “conservatives” railing against the world (when they should be bearers of the Good News to the world) and on the other hand, you have “liberals” rallying to “Christians” who are living in sin as if they victims (when they should be confronting and calling to repentance). This is completely backwards. Could Scripture be any clearer when it says this in 1 Corinthians 5:9-13:

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.

5). Discouragement over the state of the church in it’s spiritual apathy.

This kind of ties in with the above. There is a lack of the fear of the Lord, hunger for the Lord, living for the Lord and presence of the Lord in our lives. We go through religious motions once a week, or we might even do a lot of “religious activity” through the week, but too much of the Western church is powerless and impotent in it’s impact in the world and culture. Missions is not the heart-beat of the church, prayer is not central or sometimes even present, and we rarely go any deeper than “inspirational messages” in our Bible study.

Worship is reduced to a few songs and offering, instead of a life-style and time of waiting on the Lord for any extended amount of time until He meets with us. “Fellowship” has become mere social discussions but lacking any real spiritual dynamic of sharing in the life of Jesus and walking with Him together. Hospitality has been reduced to coffee stations in a church building, rather than meals around a kitchen table in our homes.

That said, the above is a generalization. It is also not representative of many passionate and committed followers of Jesus who yearn for something more and authentic. There is a movement afoot that is rediscovering some of these seemingly lost realities and that is hopeful! The true church of Jesus Christ will always prevail, but there is no doubt there is a great need for a true renewal and revival in the Western world.

6). The seeming lack of any real action within the social media world…other than liking and sharing posts or complaining about all that is wrong instead of actually doing something positive to make things right.

I run a social media page for the ministry I lead. The ministry name is ServeNow and our tag-line is “procrastinate later.” Yet, it drives me crazy when people “like” posts but take no action to actually “ServeNow.” It reminds me of this passage out of James:

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

Don’t just “like” something…do something!

Don’t just complain about all that is wrong…do something positive to make it right!

And that call is something I now need to heed in conclusion. What good is all of the above if I don’t do something positive about it myself? Will I merely be reactive in regard to all that is “wrong” with the world, or will I acknowledge all that is wrong with me and allow God to do a work to renew a right spirit within my heart, that I might work to bring about what is right in this world?

What is the point of wrestling if we never allow that to build within us a determination to drive change?

Wrestling with what is wrong, must turn into working for what is right. Anger must turn to action that brings forth positive change. Bitterness must be replaced with mercy and grace. Being hurt must lead to becoming more compassionate and sensitive to others hurting or feeling unnoticed. And being upset about all the “un-Christ-like” Christians out there must lead me to becoming more like Christ myself not less.

That is the point of honesty and the goal of all wrestling…not to become bitter, but to become better and make the world a better place.

You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high.
Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the Lord?

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. -Isaiah 58:4-9

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