Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Where Is the Love?

By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.  
John 13:35

 How many of you remember the old Wendy’s TV commercials from the ‘80's with the little old lady wanting to know, “Where’s the beef?” She was looking for the meat, looking for what makes a hamburger a hamburger. In one of the ads, there is a really big, fluffy bun, but hardly any beef.

I have been asking myself a similar question where the church is concerned. I look at what we call “church” and wonder, have we missed it? The meat of the church is supposed to be love. God is love. We are called to love. They will know us by our love. Without love we are nothing. If love is the meat of the church, I want to know where it is.

I see big ole churches being erected, thousands and thousands spent to house one brand of Christianity or another so they can do their programs, services and whatever else they do that they call “church”. Even the word “service” bothers me now. The only way that word is used in the King James New Testament is to refer to serving others, not to some scripted ritual once or twice a week. And of course to pay for all this, we are gifted with sermons that demand, Tithe or Burn!! (I stole that one from The Rise of the Nones*.)

Where’s the love?

We sit through these “services” led by the few that are supposed to be qualified to dispense their revelations for the week while the rest of us sit and stare at the back of someone’s head. (Forgive me- I freely admit to having grown rather cynical.) This whole system does nothing but breed laziness and dependence in the congregation and burnout in the leaders. We've turned into the Israelites of old, who decided that Moses would hear from God for them. They didn't want to go to that mountain! We all are supposed to be hearing from God, not just the few. We are all supposed to be ministers, but even the concept of ministry is warped in my opinion. “Ministry” isn’t getting in front of a group of people to lead a service or a Bible study or whatever. It’s ministering love to those in the world, those more likely than not who are not in the building but OUT THERE, who desperately need to see Jesus in us.

Where’s the love?

Having done our religious duty for the week, we feel like we can call ourselves “Christian” and go about the rest of our lives, more often than not, leaving Christianity at that church door. How often do people forget what the sermon was about, let alone implement any of it? Sermon? Hey, I'm busy obsessing about the out-of-place hair on the person in front of me!

Where’s the love?

Typical practice is for any charity work to be done in the name of that church- giving to various ministries including missionaries, and any other outreaches that minister to those outside that church. Generally, it’s just money put in the plate that constitutes the participation of the majority of the congregation. And we go home feeling like we’ve done our duty, even though only a small percentage of our giving actually gets to anyone in need, simply because of the ever-present expenses of building maintenance, insurance, (loan payments???) and paid staff.

Where’s the love?

I have been trying to help out an older lady I have known for quite a few years. She has no family that is helping, and is now in an assisted living facility. I provide transportation and company. She has been a member of a small church in the area for years, and has not gotten one phone call, let alone a visit since she's been in that facility which has been well over a year now. I had to twist that pastor's arm not once but twice to get out there and visit her when she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I am more apt to give that family a pass for not visiting or calling before I'll cut that church any slack. I have been completely disgusted with them, and he's the one that she still wants to officiate at her funeral. This is the church?

Where's the love???

The world sees Christians as:
“. . . hyperpolitical, out of touch, pushy in our beliefs, and arrogant. And the most dominant perceptions of all are that we are homophobic, hypocritical, and judgmental. Simply put, in the minds of many, modern-day Christianity no longer seems Christian.” **
This is how the world perceives us. And all too often, they are right. So many “Christian” groups have just sailed into the ditch of judgmentalism thinking they are doing God’s work, while love just gets left in the dust. How many of those people they condemn could have been (or still be) won by just loving them?

Maybe your church isn’t one of those radical, hate-filled numbers that ruin the reputation of Christianity. I hope not. But still, our complacency and dependence on an authority structure have robbed us and the Body of Christ of real ministry and real growth. And with the reputation that the church has in the world, those that truly need him are never going to darken the door. Granted, most churches do the best they know to do and have done a great deal of good over the years, but there is just so much more.

They will know we are Christians by our love, not by our buildings. They will know we are Christians by our love, not by our Bibles we carry around or our bumper stickers. (Thank you, Joyce Meyer!) They will know we are Christians by our love, not by our judgmental, hate-filled “biblical” attitudes toward those who just simply need Jesus. And they will know we are Christians by our love, not by how we dress up and go to church on Sundays.

They will know we are Christians when we finally start doing what God said to do- Go! He never told us to build buildings, concoct programs and events and try to persuade the world to come. They ain't comin'! He told us to go, and He commanded us to love.

Do we just have "big, fluffy bun" Christianity? Where’s the love?

Where's the Beef image from Youtube
The Church Has Left the Building image from  Christian Life Church
*The Rise of the Nones, James Emery White, Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, Illinois, 2014, p. 79.
** ibid p. 39.

Holy Ghost
by Darren Wilson

This documentary is an absolute must-see; the entire film is now available on Netflix. This is the love of God in demonstration. This is a link to the trailer; their website is here.

Recommended Reading

Finding Church: What if There Really Is Something More? by Wayne Jacobsen
For 2000 years man has attempted to force the Kingdom of God into a man-made system. There is a better way.

The Rise of the Nones by James Emery White. Clearly one of the best books I've read in a long time. He explains how the church is perceived and what to do to reach the "nones", those with no religious affiliation.

Blog Posts

The Dechurched and the Next Move of God

The Dechurched, the Wilderness Experience and the Next Move of God
Liquid Church- The Shape of Church to Come
Righteous Judgment
Will the Real Church Please Stand Up?
Church- Consider Your Ways
Clergy- Invitation to Idolatry?

Red Flag Churches

Red Flag Churches
What Does a Wolf Look Like?
Making the Decision to Leave an Abusive Church
The Spiritual Covering Doctrine
Spiritual Abuse Is Not Obvious
To Tithe or Not to Tithe