Several years ago, I was taken aback by the words of a pastor who said before his congregation that Christianity is not a chump man’s religion. It wasn’t because I ever believed that it was, but because I had not until that time ever heard anyone lend voice to that notion. You have to believe that Jesus is a far cry from anything that might be considered weak or wimpy. Soft just does not fit the description of someone who is known as the lion of the tribe of Judah, King of kings and Lord of lords.
When you see Jesus confront the people of his day, he was seen overturning tables in the Temple Square as money changers attempted to take advantage of the people. He constantly showed his displeasure when his own followers exhibited a lack of faith or the religious leaders of the day displayed their hypocrisy. So how has it happened that in present day America, so many have perceived Christians in America as being dull or soft?
Paul could enter a city and upset it by simply setting a single possessed woman free of the spirit that allowed her to make men profitable. Peter and the other apostles were constantly being thrown into prison for the liberating words that changed the cities they entered into. This hardly seems soft or dull either.
There is the opinion that in one sense, Christians in America have not faced the truest sense of persecution that has been faced by Christians in other parts of the world. In America, Christians have so much freedom that the true threat of shaping or upsetting the culture as is felt in other nations where other religions are the dominant faith appears a far cry from the level of impact.
When you look at the revelation that was given to the apostle John, he relays a message of a church that had become lukewarm. We might think of that today as being soft or dull. He tells John to tell this church that it would be better if they were hot or cold because at least if they were hot or cold, they would display a certainty of where they stand. He tells John that a lukewarm church is unpalatable to God. It is interesting to note that the description of the church that is described in Revelation chapter 3 is of a people which had become “rich, increased with goods, having need of nothing. It goes on to say that they were unaware of their wretched state, how miserable, poor, blind and naked they had become.
When Paul wrote to Timothy, he made him aware that a time was coming where there would be difficult days ahead. That day was seen as a time when people would be self-pleasing, money lovers, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, and much more. What sticks out to anyone who reads 2 Timothy 3 is the 5th verse that states that there would be people who would hold on to a form of godliness but deny its power. This indeed sounds like a people who have become soft and dull.
A church that has become soft and dull obviously cannot move in effectiveness to change or impact culture as it was birthed to do. A church that is dull or soft cannot stand out as a difference maker or point to something that is to be desired or attractive. When Christians get soft and dull, they become a dim light that cannot point to a glorious Father that loves and wants to redeem or restore the world to the perfected state that God envisioned when He spoke it into existence.
A church that desires to have any impact in the world must become revolutionary and a true reformer of the culture. It cannot run in fear of reprisal of falling out of popularity with the world systems. The Church is to be bold in its ability to stand out. The Church is a living nation of prophets, priests, and kings. The Church is comprised of peculiar people. This difference is threatening to the world because it appears as folly and misunderstood. Yet, when the Church presents the power and glory of God properly, it offers love, hope, and healing that draws.
The American Church must become sharpened by the word of God and by the encouragement that can be found in other Christians around the world who have sacrificed all for the sake of Christ. The Church in America must not take for granted the freedoms that enable it to worship in the open but embrace that freedom as a grace bestowed upon her to fulfill the great commission; whether that is healing the sick, raising the dead, cleansing the diseased, or driving out the demonic, the Church has much more to accomplish than adding souls to church rosters.
The Church has to affect change on a grander scale so that the revealing of the greater works can be made manifest now. Let this be the year that the Church becomes emboldened to do those greater works. Let this be the year that the Church in America is seen as sharp and established as a solid and firm stance against principalities and powers that come against the kingdom of our God.
QUESTION: Will this be the year that you help to change the image of the Church as being soft or dull? How do you see yourself in the process of accomplishing this?