I am not against Christianity or anything like that. I am married to a Christian husband who encourages me to attend church in attempt to bring me closer to God. In that process, I find myself distancing further away from Christianity. I have been finding for words to explain it to Dear Hubby. Temper flew, harsh words were uttered when Christianity is 'questioned'. Today, Dear Hubby sent me an article (below) that describe exactly why a non-believer like myself is distancing away from Christianity rather than embracing it.
EVANGELISM, THE CHURCH AND THE SINNER
God understands man and his weaknesses and pitfalls of life. Unfortunately, the church at large, over the years of ministry in the marketplace have lost focus, lost sight and even vision of what a church was originally intended to be.
The Great Commission
- For the Church – It’s the Great Commission that should always be the centrifugal basis of its existence. An organisation for the benefit of its non-members.
- For the Christian – Salt and Light. That is the whole essence of the Christian witness. “Preach the Gospel and where necessary, use words” – Francis of Assisi.
The Church for the people or the people for the Church?
The church is the only organisation in the world where its objectives are for its non-members. A new church is often viewed as liberal, flexible, without having any 'policies' and 'procedures' on how the church should be run. Because a new church wishes to bring in as many members hopefully new converts and not recruiting members of other churches, their focus is very much evangelical in nature. And the sermons always take into account that there just maybe one non-believer whom they can reach out to.
Alas, as church grows strong in membership. The focus shifts inward to the benefit of its members. Sermons are no longer evangelical and even offensive at times to the non-believer. The insecurity of losing members by offending them takes precedence. This, at the expense of non-believers.
The Church is not for non-believers
The Church at large today is not a place to bring non-believers. Christians often use bringing a friend to Church as a short cut way of evangelising. Let the Pastor do the talking, preaching, praying. Christians satisfy their conscience by bringing friends to church.
There are so many offended non-believers because :-
1. They hear sermons from the pulpit putting down non-believers.
Let’s examine the parable of the sower. We sometimes focus on the sower and the whole ‘action’ of sowing. We often say “Oh! I’ve done my part , i.e. taken my friend to church”. And when the friend is offended by the sermon or church or does not open his heart to Jesus. We resolve that it was seed that fell on rocky ground. And ‘pray’ that one day the seed will be sown again to fall on good ground. The seed sown, which is the gospel message, is the same. Bible doesn’t talk about different types of seed. The bible speaks of different types of ground. Who prepares the ground? God? The Devil? Or the Church? It’s the church that has to prepare the ground so that it is always good soil and not rocky ground.
2. The Strong are hidden, the weak - visible
Christians who are on fire for the Lord usually end up spending a lot of time within the Church, disciplining, teaching, ministring, helping, serving. All within the Church scene. But the name-sake Christian or the Christian who is still struggling with his compromising faith spends most of his time outside of the church. He has more contact with non-believers daily than any bible believing, demon bashing, tongue speaking Christian. While a spirit filled Christian walks the talk, no one sees his walk because he is always walking within Church circles which is a bubble and not being exposed again to the worldly temptations. The weak Christian doesn’t walk the talk but that is the bible non-believers see and read.
3. The Punishing and unforgiving Church
Most non-believers have the impression of Christians that – Once you are a Christian, there are a lot of things you can’t do and rules that you have to follow. To the point of dishonoring your parents if they are non-believers. A good example is found in the Chinese culture. While most non-believers understand the principle that once you are a Christian, you are with another “God”. Most non-believers never ask a Christian to pray to idols, or take part in the religious ceremonies. But many view the nucleus of the family as important and would like to see the Christian member being present without taking part in the religious rituals. Some Churches go so far as to tell their members to distant themselves from the non-believing family for fear of prosecution, fear of being ‘influenced’ by religion, fear of being possessed the evil spirits.
Christians have more fear and superstition than non-believers. Christian becomes a religion. Greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world. Daniel and his three friends were asked to bow to other gods which they refused and rightly so. But they were in the temple! Christians fail to understand this – A non-believer who believes in other religions can walk into a church but a Christian cannot walk into a temple. Which religion do you think shows itself as stronger? “I am a Buddhist or Hindu, but I can walk into your church, no issue. You’re a Christian and you don’t even dare to walk into a temple anymore”.
Non-believers also understand that if you are a Christian and you sin, steal, commit adultery, get divorced, the Church will reject you. Get your life right then come back to Church. As opposed to come back to church and be open to God to minister and change you. A church that demands change from its members from without the church is no different than a religion based on good works. Furthermore, a religion based on good works has no condemnation. Non-believers see church as a place to do good works like any other religion.
The Church – The Club
Church is a not a friendly place for non-believers, its is often offending with selfish sermons that speak of how if you are a Christian then all good things will come to you, and if you are a non-believer, you will be exposed to evil. The rain falls on the just and unjust. A non-believer will then turn around and ask “Oh! So, if I’m not a Christian, bad and evil days are ahead of me. I have to be a “member” of the Christian club before I can enjoy its privileges” – The conclusion by the non-believer? God is not a God of love as the Christians so fervently preach about.
One or ninety-nine - Who is more important?
The parable of the lost coin and lost sheep. Both focus on the lost item. Most scholars will agree that the coin or the sheep that is not lost is the believer and the lost coin or sheep is the non-believer. So, what does the parable say? The focus should continually be on the non-believer, even ‘abandoning’ the other coins and sheep. All heaven rejoices when one sinner is saved, then the rejoicing is reversed, when the new believer rejoices that he is saved. There is no mention of heaven rejoicing over a believer because once a person is a believer, joy and peace will follow. A continuous life of rejoicing. Rejoice! Rejoice! And again I say Rejoice!
“The gospel of Jesus need no adventitious propaganda to make itself felt and accepted. Let your life speak to us, even as the rose needs no speech but simply spreads its perfume” - Gandhi.