If the world is no longer looking to the church to find Jesus, it's not really like we can blame them for that. Today's church is less about Jesus than it perhaps ever has been, so much so that even many Christians can no longer find Him there.
Throughout it's history, the church has been tackling the deepest questions of theology. Who is Jesus? What is the Trinity? How does the Father relate to the Son? How does the Cross work? What is atonement? Salvation? How do we live as outpourings of grace?
Not any longer. Today's church is asking questions like, How do we get the most number of persons in our pews? What kind of worship should we have? Do we need a better children's program? Which of our members will we put on the front lines of evangelism? How much of a mess do we put up with in persons' lives?
We're asking where we draw our lines, when the testimony of Jesus is that we're better off as sand doodlers.
It's because, I think, we somewhere got the idea that the world is supposed to like us. I mean, it's really important to today's church that the world like us. We want them to think we have the best Sunday morning experience. And in order to do that, we're no longer spending our Sundays in the shadow of the Cross, no longer spending them at the empty grave.
And when we talk about what it is that the church has to offer, well...we want to make sure the world knows that Jesus offers life. Abundantly. And that means that we have to have our acts together. It means we have to have our perfect little lives on display. It means we've gotten into the deep trenches of depending that we're all good, that that's what Jesus does for us.
We want the world to know that He's amazing, but we don't want to have to talk about grace.
So it's no wonder that when the world looks at today's church, they don't see a whole lot of Jesus. He's a whisper, a sideline, a backdrop to all the things we're trying to do, but He's no longer the center of it.
It's sad, really, but it's also comfortable. It's comfortable because it means we don't have to live like an Acts church, on the margins of society, ridiculed by the mainstream, the name "Christian" said with a bit of a scoff.
In all our efforts to avoid the persecutions that the church has always faced, by becoming "relevant" and "likable" in our culture, we have ended up persecuting ourselves. We're the butt of the joke, not even able to profess the things that we claim so dearly to believe. But at least they're not killing us.
They don't have to; we're killing ourselves.
All the while, there's a world out there still earnestly - honestly - looking for Jesus. And the only thing they know for sure is that they're not going to find Him here.
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