Part of the following is a comment I left in a response to my good friend C’s blog after reading a blog on his site (http://undoingthedamagemrcswildride.blogspot.com/). I will quote those parts……
C had put a letter up from a well know emerging pastor concerning challenges within the church. That for too long the church as a whole has not been the best representation of the Christ of the Scriptures. That hypocrisy, lack of love, seclusion, judgment and the like have invaded the church and hurt individuals who came to be loved. All of this is sadly, true.
Here are my fears within the two extremes that I sit between as an Emerging Conservative.
Conservative Churches – Too many conservatives do not want to acknowledge the problem or that they may be part of it (I am speaking in generalities because not everyone in any of this conversation are part of the problem). Many in this ballpark are fine with this is the truth and this is the way it is! They speak the truth in a way that hurts, pushes, and judges to people who are struggling. Worse yet, many will act this way and then soon be found out that they themselves are not following what they “preach”.
Emerging – All about the love baby but many ties will pull away from the truth as not to offend. Actually on some issues, they might not present truth because they have found a way to try to explain it away. Also, another challenge on this end of the spectrum is they see the mistakes and challenges of the conservative church talked about above so they spend a lot of time trashing them instead of conversing with them. God has not called us to immediately look at amputation within the body before trying to treat it.
Anyways, as I read this letter from an emerging church leader, these became my thoughts….
“I like what they have to say here even though I will always read these types of messages through the glasses of “where’s the balance?” I believe that there is balance in the Scripture of truth and love.
Let me explain….I agree that the church is diseased right now and needs serious talk, serious love, and to be honest about these downfalls. I think Christ is addressing the present day church in his letter to the church of Ladociea in Revelation 3: 14-22. He told them that they were neither hot nor cold and he wishes they were one or the other because he’s about to spit them out of his mouth. HOWEVER…..
“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
(By the way, a verse often used in the conservative church when talking to “sinners” when in context we see it is Christ’s plea to the “saved” not the “unsaved”)
In other words, if the church would humble herself, God is already ready to go and just waiting for the church to answer His call.
All this to say, I believe it is real to talk about the challenges in the church, to reach out to her, and to even call her on it but watch how much we beat the church up in a new kind of self righteousness instead out of a concern for her.
The other area of balance I watch for is the presentation that Jesus was all about the hugs and that was it. Again, that is 99% true and would rather the church error more in that direction than the other.
However, He was also about truth. The only times I saw him be over the top bold and down right scolding about sin was not a “sinner”….it was the religious leaders. Jesus hated and saved his toughest words for those within the church who did not show love…..”you broad of vipers”, “you hypocrites”, and a whip made out of cords to chase out the money makers.
We do see however that while Jesus showed great love, great grace in His language, he never compromised the truth of the message. On one day, he had 10,000 people come to hear him speak and spent a couple days with him. At one point, he told them what it took to follow Him, total submission to Him and His will…..love, submission, purity……. and about 9,850 people said “Ummmmm, that’s too tough and walked away.”
If that happened in most churches, both the emerging churches and the conservative churches, they would have an emergency leadership meeting of what they were doing wrong and try to apologize to those who left and water down their message. However, Jesus didn’t do anything wrong….He spoke the truth in love and people still didn’t like it. Doesn’t mean it wasn’t truth.
All this to say as a member of the church, we are all one body and we need to address any illness in the body and heal it, even in progressive ways. Not see the illness in the leg and just amputate but go through the treatment. His message we have been entrusted with must be presented in truth and love, not one or the other.
Last minute ad: I found this post on a friend’s blog on this topic that is wonderful. Enjoy!