A few years ago I was attending the Global Leadership Summit, which is an annual two-day international video-conferenced leadership symposium headquartered in Barrington, IL at Bill Hybel’s Willow Creek Church. During this particularly conference Bill spoke on what he called Holy Discontent. His premise was simple: there are things that we see in life where the Holy Spirit just fills us with discontent about how they are being done and we just burn to change them.
I know I shouldn’t write today but I am filled with holy discontent about a ton of stuff right now and just have to get it off my chest for no other reason than to say it out loud. And perhaps you are feeling the same way about some of this stuff, too, or have your own holy discontent issues that need voicing. I hope this doesn’t sound like a gripe session, but here it comes in no particular order.
I am so tired of churches being inward focused and not doing what Jesus told us to do, which is go out to the nations (including your own neighborhood!) and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The church really has one job – share the gospel with people who have never heard it, but we’re so busy playing church and catering to the needs and comforts of the “99 sheep” that the lost are not being found and in fact they’re not even being looked for!
Speaking of church or in this case churches, have you ever noticed that they don’t work together? Sure, pastors from different churches meet and talk about how things are going and pray for one another, but congregations don’t join forces to do ministry together, leveraging each other’s strengths to make a difference in the community. Instead, everyone’s got their lane and their turf and their denomination and their money and their ministries so the “body of Christ” looks like it’s been dismembered! That’s not how Paul told us to do it and it eviscerates the church’s effectiveness to make a difference when everyone is doing their own thing instead of all of us getting together to do Jesus’ thing!
How many people are hurting in your community? Does the government have enough resources to take care of all the homelessness, food insecurity, and other social welfare types of things in your city? I once did some research about the churches in my town of Salem, OR. We have about 50 churches by my count that are fairly like-minded theology wise. I guessed that there would be about 10,000 members that go to these churches based on their various sizes (conservative estimate). Now just imagine if 10,000 people instead of giving the average tithe of roughly 4.1 percent actually gave the full 10 percent AND gave gifts beyond that, living sacrificially to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, care of the widow and orphan, etc… Just imagine what a difference that would make! Instead churches are dying due to declining membership, declining giving, while at the same time having significant foundation accounts full of money dedicated to purposes the churches can’t use. We don’t make a difference in our communities because doing so would mean changing our financial lifestyles which we’re not willing to do – even for Jesus.
Now I know I’m sounding judgmental, which is another one of my pet peeves! I keep hearing church members telling other church members – including church leaders – not to judge! THAT’S NOT WHAT SCRIPTURE SAYS! Paul makes it abundantly clear in 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 that we are indeed to judge those in the church and hold them accountable to church standards! Paul says we’re not to judge those outside the church because what do we have to do with them? Instead the church has it exactly backwards! We completely lose our minds over what non-believers do and allow all sorts of nonsense in the church in the name of not being judgmental, which in turn makes us look just like the world looks. Again, that’s not what Jesus had in mind when He taught us to tell the Truth in grace and love. So yes, I’m judging the church based on the standards we are supposed to adhere to according to scripture and in my view are missing badly.
Now on with my rant!
What is it with all of you nominal Christians? If you believe in Jesus as your Lord and Savior get off your butts and engage the battle! Go to church and be part of the body! I don’t care if you don’t like the music and the sermon is boring. Go anyway! It’s not about you! It’s about telling God you love him and showing your commitment to him no matter how bad the music is! Your faith is NOT a private matter between you and God! Christianity from the beginning was meant to be a shared experience. Jesus didn’t come to earth as a lone wolf and hang out by Himself. He chose disciples to be with and created fellowship with them and others. There is NO excuse for you not be part of the body and to use the gifts God has given you to further the kingdom of God. And no, you can’t do it by yourself just because it’s more comfortable that way. Stop fooling yourselves! When you get in front of Jesus – and you will be in front of Him – you’re going to have a lot of explaining to do. Please read Matthew 7:21 and beyond for a hint of what could happen to you.
To those of you who are engaged in the faith, thank you! But let me ask you a question: Are you using your time and talents as well as your treasure? I used to be a guy that was more than happy to write a check for things because it was honestly easier and less of a hassle than actually spending time doing things for people. And the fact is, most people want your money anyway. But that’s not what Jesus modeled. He showed us that we need to pour ourselves into other people, not just write the check. So are you mentoring someone? Are you walking with someone who is struggling or troubled? Are you building time into your schedule to do ministry work outside of your job and family commitments? How are you using the experiences God has given you to better someone else’s life? I’ve learned that time is the most valuable commodity not money and that it is the time I spend counseling, consoling, sharing, guiding, advising, and simply walking with another person that they need not just another check. We need more of the body of Christ to walk with the hurting – meeting them where they are – instead of just writing a check to your favorite Christian charity thinking that someone else can do the job.
And about you people in church that can’t be friends with other people in church because they believe something different than you – GET OVER YOURSELF! Nobody agrees with everyone 100 percent of the time, but that doesn’t mean we are not brothers and sisters in Christ and can’t be friends even when the issues are theologically significant. Imagine how hard Satan laughs at us when you choose to end a friendship because you can’t forgive or accept someone with a different theological understanding.
To those who are uncomfortable with balancing our faith and culture – stop equivocating by trying to get the Bible to say something it doesn’t say! Sin is sin – PERIOD. God makes the rules you don’t! Once you say that sin is no longer sin you are then saying we have no need for Jesus because we don’t need saving. That’s VERY slippery ground for you. Instead shout from the rooftops that just like non-believers we are sinners, too!! And just like us, non-believers can be seen as holy and righteous by the God of the Universe simply by entering into a relationship with Jesus who died for them as well as us! Don’t water down a message that our savior died to deliver no matter how uncomfortable that message gets framed by those who don’t know Jesus.
And to those knuckleheads on the far right – the word is LOVE as in love your neighbor as yourself. Paul told us that without love he was just a banging gong. You will win NOBODY to Christ if your message is “Choose God or go to Hell.” Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners to build relationship with them before He shared His message of redemption with them. God loves the people you seemingly disapprove of so strongly – stop being Pharisees. Jesus dies for everyone including them so build relationship and win them to Christ instead of pushing them away from the God who wants them to come home so badly (Luke 15).
Franklin Graham and the rest of you out there talking about how God is going to judge America for the Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage. A handful of thoughts for you. First, God is going to judge everybody so the gay marriage thing is not the tipping point. Second, America has killed 60,000,000 children through abortion since 1973 – God has plenty of reason already to be ticked at us if that was His goal. Third, Jesus was the last prophet (as prophet, priest, and King) and you need to follow His lead – forgive, don’t judge non-believers, love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you, tell the truth in love and gentleness, etc…. Looking like angry hate-mongers who tell people they’re going to be judged and go to hell does nothing to share Jesus with them, which is our job. Fourth, yes there will be judgment and you ought to be praying for it to come because the sooner it comes the sooner Jesus reigns! So the harvest is ripe – stop focusing on the worldly stuff and start focusing on the harvest and finding more workers!! Lastly – our message as the Christian body should be, “We believe you are wrong and choosing against God by your decisions, but Jesus loves you and wants you to know Him and so do we.” So go out there and use your national positions to tell people the Good News about Jesus!!!
I’ll stop with this one: Paul tells us our enemy is Satan not man so stop for a moment, church, and realize we are in a spiritual battle against Satan who has blinded men to the truth and tempts men into committing acts against God. If our enemy is not flesh and blood but powers and principalities shouldn’t our weapons also be spiritual, such as prayer, the Holy Spirit, God’s word, and the Body of Christ in unity? It is so easy to focus on a person and think them stupid, untrustworthy, malicious, and even evil. But understand they are only men doing these things at the prompting of Satan who is the prince of this world. We need to love people more, hate their sin more, and especially fight Satan and his demons more individually and as the church. But what church is really talking about that anymore?
Okay, I’m done…for today. Bill Hybels told us during his Holy Discontent speech that if we felt that way about something we had an obligation to do something about it. I know that in my little seemingly insignificant life I am doing just that! Maybe if enough of your join me in this crusade we can actually make a difference!