I recently ran a survey asking people for raw, unedited and real answers as to why they don’t go to church. Partially out of curiosity, but I also wanted to know what we, as Christians, were doing that dissuaded them from following Jesus. I was humbled by the generous amounts of honest answers, but I was also appalled at how unbelievers would describe the church and those of us who claim to be Christians.
“Churches prevent people from truly loving others.”
“Because I can’t find a church where my girlfriend and I are accepted.”
“As a mom and wife, I looked for another church yet really struggle with the feeling of friendliness.”
“Don’t feel apart of 95% of churches that I go to. Churches are supposed to be familes right? So why do people in churches tear each other apart…”
Not that we are called to be people pleasers. Certainly some things the bible calls us to do will rub the world the wrong way. But when you look at Scripture, is this how the Church should be described? No. It’s the exact opposite. There are 3 words that Christians and the Church should be known by. Unfortunately, I’m afraid we are known by the opposite.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35
Love is central to following Jesus. It’s the first thing we learn in Sunday school or church. To love God and love people. Love should be our motive for all that we do. Christians should look different because of their love. People should see the Church and see love like they have never seen.
Our love should point people back to Jesus and show that He is who we belong to. 1 Corinthians describes someone who is more concerned with their “Christian duty” but doesn’t have love is like a clanging symbol. Does your love point people back to Jesus? Are you known by your love?
Look at the following prayer as Jesus prayed for his disciples as well as you and me.
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me” -John 17:20-23
It makes sense that a respondent to my survey would list division in the church as a reason for them to not attend. The Church should have more than sound arguments and good evangelism tactics to reach the lost. Why would Jesus pray for unity amongst believers and take it so seriously? “So that the world may believe that you have sent me and loved them even as you loved me”.
The world should be convinced by our unity as believers. But far too often our unity is hidden behind closed doors. The only church relationship that unbelievers see is the negative arguing or divisions in the media. Are people drawn to you and your church by the unity amongst you?
“Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for evil.” -1 Peter 3:13-16
I wrote more in depth on this in my last post. But Peter assumed that we would have an undeniable hope during the midst of tragedy, that unbelievers would be forced to ask whats going on. We should radiate an eternal hope that people have never seen before. But we are too busy complaining anytime we experience any unjust suffering. When is the last time someone asked you “for a reason for the hope that is in you”?
Would somebody describe you with these 3 words? Lets pray that we can learn to radiate love, unity and hope so that the world will know that we are his disciples, know that God sent his Son and offers His love, and ask us for a reason for the hope that is in us.
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