The Problem with the Church in the World Today

Read this quote and see if it doesn’t sound like the church today:

The trouble with us today is not only that the Church’s message has become poisoned with modern thought and has therefore little to say to the modern world, but that she has inoculated society with such a mild form of Christianity that now it is almost quite immune from the vital form. We have domesticated the Kingdom of God, and made the Church something puny and tame, and anemic and impotent. Over against all this the Church must learn again from the New Testament that she has no right to settle down here; she is born from above; she is only here as an outpost from heaven. She has no right to identify herself with the social order here or with any political system, far less with the ‘status quo.’

-Thomas F. Torrance, “The Church in the World,” in Gospel, Church, and Ministry (79).

As Inigo Montoya said, “Let me sum up”:

The Church, instead of being subversive, and turning the world upside down (Acts 17:6), has become infected with the world.

Though Christ brought the Kingdom of God to the world in such a way that it got him crucified, the Church has brought the Kingdom of God to the world in such a way as to make it completely harmless.

The Church has traded the treasure of the Kingdom of God for the handful of beans that is this world.

Though our forefathers “Confessed they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Hebrews 11:13) we set up shop, built houses, planted crops, elected presidents, all as if we intended on staying in this world order that is passing away (1 John 2:17).

Here’s where I think the fault lies:

Preachers have domesticated the Gospel, neutered it even, and now they preach a Gospel that more resembles the culture than the Savior. If you preach a Gospel that won’t get you arrested or killed anywhere on this planet then you’re not preaching the gospel that Jesus and his disciples preached.

Christians sought acceptance and compatibility with their friends, neighbors and family rather than the self-denial of the cross so that now they’re more concerned about not offending anyone and they see the Gospel as the way to make my life better now and in the hereafter instead of how I bring the Kingdom of God to earth like Jesus did.

Churches sought respectability with the world such that now they are the very things that Our Lord preached against. Churches are often social clubs, denominations are often big business, and missions organizations are often travel agencies for expats.

The solution, I think, will be found in relearning the meaning of true discipleship (Matt. 16:24; Luke 9:23) and a return to the Spirit-led proclamation and service demonstrated by the Early Church. This will not happen as long as church remains big business and church members are more concerned about their social lives in the church than they are about the disciple-making mission given by our Lord.

 

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About Michael R. Jones

Pastor and PhD candidate writing on Paul's theology of suffering.
This entry was posted in Church Ministry, Culture and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Problem with the Church in the World Today

  1. Pingback: Reinterpreting the Church’s Mission | Pastor-Theologian

  2. Pingback: Reinterpreting the Church’s Mission | Michael R. Jones

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