Today I was at lunch when I overheard the following conversation:
So you’re a Methodist now?
Yeah, I went to some of the Baptist churches and they are too mean here
Yeah, the Baptists in Texas are just too mean
I think that I have heard it all now. I am not, nor do I profess to be a Baptist (or a Methodist for that matter), but that conversation had me rolling on the floor in laughter. You can ask my wife, I had to stop eating long enough to digest their conversation. Has it really resorted to that in America. A perception of niceness dictates how one views their relationship with the Lord. The state of the church(es) in America is saddening for me. Somewhere in the midst of everything, the living person of Jesus Christ has been lost. He truly has died in many arenas of western church.
In the conversation that I overheard, there was no discussion on character or messages or even core beliefs. It was almost a conversation that could have said “It’s too hard to be a Baptist”. I know that is a little bit of a stretch, but what if, just what if, by “mean” it was accountable. The Baptists church we visited wanted us to be held accountable and that is just wrong. God forbid we actually be expected to admonish and be held to the standard that Christ has set for us. There is no perfection and I fully understand that, but to say that being called out for sins and not being able to hide in dark places with them, is mean is downright laughable to me.
It is for this reason, and many others, that I cannot stand the state of the church in America. It saddens me to look at all that is being lost for the sake of belonging to a specific group or denomination. I want to belong to the Lord. I want to walk with His Spirit and not fall victim to belonging to some group that claims to know how to follow Him best. I don’t care what your affiliation is, I want to know you. I want to know what the Lord is doing for you and how are you actively seeking Him first and personal glory last. If all you can do to engage me is recite the latest sermon, then you are not actively seeking the Lord. If you are not passionate about something other than the mission trip and the ski trip over Spring Break, then you are missing the bigger picture.
There is daily life with the Lord that is fulfilling. Man does not live on bread alone…
I cannot be certain how everything in the conversation went, nor can I state that mean meant held to a higher standard, but I like the thought of being held accountable. I know that all of our sins have been washed away by the completed work of Christ, but that still does not give us an excuse to keep on sinning. Along the same lines being in community does not always mean that we are nice to everyone. There are times when we all need someone to get in our face and call us out. Tell us we are being selfish, greedy, prideful, vain, whatever term you want to use. Someone needs to point out when we are acting out of flesh and help us turn to the Lord in repentance.
If you are looking for a church, or a group to meet with, start with the people that are willing to challenge you and tell it to you straight. Find people who are seeking after the Lord and meet with them. Don’t be afraid to be called out, and don’t be afraid to be loved in a manner that you have not experienced before. The true Church is not one that is afraid to be honest about how we are living versus how we should be living. The true Church is built upon the rock of Jesus Christ and His Spirit. Follow that and you will be just fine.