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Reprinted from March 24, 2020
This, I know, will make many fellow believers fighting mad and some likely will call me everything but a child of God.
But as I, along with millions, helplessly look on at the unfolding nightmare of COVID-19 and how at the beginning of this crisis in America, President Trump and many of his supporters blew it off as a hoax, I can't help but be sad when I think of how the church in America, once a leader in public thought and positive change has capitulated so much.
Even now a defiant Jerry Falwell, Jr. is willing to risk students and faculty next week by opening the doors of Liberty University, the conservative Christian college founded by his father, saying the COVID-19 pandemic is all a conspiracy against the president. He expresses what many Christians still unfortunately and wrongly believe.
It is unfortunate that we have developed over the years such an antagonistic relationship with the government.
“They are willing to destroy the economy just to hurt Trump,” Falwell said.
The church in America once was a beacon, a safe-haven, with many of its leaders partnering with government and community leaders to right wrongs, stand strong and help when justice and righteousness were under attack and dangerous threats threatened us.
Sadly though today, many church leaders are more concerned with getting and maintaining political clout and currying favor with Washington, DC politicians, at the expense of the reputation of the Christian church as a whole. While many churches are doing incredible work in their communities, on the whole, studies show a definite and steady decline in confidence in the Christian church and faith in general.
Equally sad is that many church leaders can't see what the rest of the world does and those doubting the authenticity of our faith. This is by no means an indictment but an observation and uncomfortable truth many know but would not dare say.
Scripture teaches us to examine ourself and while the church over the past decade has done a lot of fingerpointing, it has done little self-examination.
Even more, way too many are existing within echo chambers where the reverberation of their own words bounce off one another and where none find any fault in the other. Many live and worship in a parallel universe it seems, not engaging culture and are shocked and angry when culture comes knocking at the doors of the church.
Having said this, let's take a look at the most defining issue of the 20th century that rocked to its core, the Christian church in America - same-sex marriage.
Christianity is a religion. Christian is nothing more than a descriptive name given to first-century followers of "the Way" - followers of the radical leader from Nazareth - Jesus Christ.
We never read where Jesus refers to his followers as "Christians." The first-century believers were given that moniker. We, as Christ-followers were not intended to be "a religion." And marriage? Let's take a closer look.
God always intended marriage to be between one man and one woman. Jesus reiterated it. And full disclosure, I believe every word of the Bible to be God-breathed and true.
Having said this, it is the church, the "Christians" who are to "blame" for the convolution of marriage. Why do I say this and what do I base it on?
The instant God's people signed off on for economic reasons (namely property) a man and woman having to have a license to be "married," that put "marriage" squarely into the legal system. And marriage for all intents and purposes became a legal union and a holy one with more weight given to the legal aspect, not God's.
Marriage is a contract. A contract. God's design and intent were that marriage would be a covenant. A holy covenant between one man and one woman and the two would become one. It was intended to be under the auspices of the church and its leader.
It's why you have to go to a court of law and not a church of God to get a divorce. Only the law can dissolve a contract. And in some cases, depending upon the circumstances, even though "divorced" (i.e. the contract legally dissolved) by the court, the covenant in the eyes of God still stands. Which means, remarriage in some cases though "legal" by law is not recognized convenantly by God. But that's another blog for another day.
The church is referred to as the bride of Christ. Why? It is an illustration of the covenantal relationship between Christ and the church as God intended it to be between one man and one woman.
The church, not gay activists or President Barack Obama laid the groundwork for same-sex marriage. Decades ago when the church stood by, allowed and gave hearty approval for economic reasons, God's holy covenant to be exchanged for man's legal contract, man then got to define the terms of the contract.
So the church was left standing flat-footed on the sideline stomping its feet, huffing and puffing with no power. No power to take back what God had given it. It long ago abdicated it, and continues to abdicate it in other life and cultural issues such as immigration, healthcare and other socio-economic issues.
We have lost our voice and the voices that are speaking are so aligned politically, that it alienates so many. We are to draw people, not alienate them.
When the world exercised the right given over to it by the church, the church protested in court (the legal system) but the legal system recognized the legality of the right of two people to enter into a contract. A contract that can never escape the covenantal original intent of the Creator.
Church leaders lashed out at Obama, LGBTQ activists, flooded talk radio and Christian media with verbal protests, pointing fingers at everyone but itself. And still does.
What did it think the world, governed by the god of this world, would do but change the very intent and plan of God?
The church in America is not in trouble and increasingly a nonfactor in culture and crises because of "them" but because of "themselves." And until truth once again matters more than political clout and money, Christianity in America will continue its downward slide.
This current crisis as horrifying as it is, is both a blessing and a curse. God and church leaders are not even part of the national conversation. The medical community can only do so much but only the Word of God and the love of God are salves for hurting souls. And so many people are hurting.
The good news? We have an opportunity to begin again. A wonderful new beginning with new opportunities to be the leaders we were meant to be in the culture. Salt to help preserve the country for future generations and light in an increasingly dark world.
It's time for the church to lead. I pray we just don't focus on getting past this and miss "the this" God is revealing to us. The world needs light in darkness and is desperate for truth, love, justice, righteousness, hope and compassion.
God has hit reset. Let's run with endurance the race set before us. We can ill afford to keep dropping the baton.
Published on Thursday, March 4, 2021 @ 8:49 PM CDT