Aug 8, 2010

Truth of the Bible is Meaningless Without the Truth of Our Actions


I shared with the congregation this morning an excerpt from a book I am reading called, "Dear Church: Letters from a Disillussioned Generation". The author, Sarah Cunningham, is exploring the question of why so many 20's-30's find themselves at odds with the church. This book is written from a person who loves the church, believes in church, and hopes that the church becomes who she was created to be.

In the opening chapter, Sarah Cunningham is interviewing 20's-30's unchurched folks about their views of the church. Here's what I shared with my church this morning:

The comments from a woman working in connection with the local justice department summarized the feelings of many. "What do you think churches could do to improve their relationship with the local community?" I asked.


"Churches?" she repeated, almost as if she thought she might have heard me wrong.


I nodded and repeated the question.


"I don't see anything that churches could do." She wasn't being mean, but rather to-the-point. "We've already got tons of churches. Look around. There's a church on every corner. I bet you could count nine or ten within three blocks of here," she reminded me. "An nothing has changed, has it? Did you know the that three or four of these churches have been here since the town was on the map? But some of the social issues just keep getting worse and worse."


She paused for me to write things down. "People don't have enough job training or employment opportunities. Drunks wander the streets. The same homeless people have been circling in and out of the shelters for the last fifteen years. Kids don't have anything to do to keep them out of trouble. Meanwhile, the churches keep right on existing, holding their services every Sunday. And it never changes anything. It seems pretty obvious to me that churches are not the answer."


Ouch!

If we believe that the local church is the hope of the world, then we must engage. We can no longer ignore the social issues of our day while preaching a "pure" gospel. The truth of the Bible must be accompanied by the truth of our actions otherwise the truth of the Bible is totally irrelevant.

God, help our churches to engage.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

The church has the Scripture, the Holy Spirit and you, but has not discerned the will of God until you quoted from this book written by an outsider? What does this say about you and your church?
How do you know this woman indeed speaks the Word of the Lord? Is the church to be blamed for all social evils? Could it be that the church is salt and light in a myriad of ways, and that without the church the world would be in much worse shape? Has Christ commanded the Church to go out and heal all social evils? Is that the mark of faithfulness for the Christian and the Church?
What about those faithful to the Gospel who have been persecuted, killed? Jesus did not heal all social evils, but was crucified, and told his disciples the same could happen to them. The Kingdom of God cannot be realized unless people recognize and submit to the King. Those who reject the Lord Jesus Christ often seek solutions to problems in directions that make things worse.
An outsider doesn't know the heart of the Gospel, only has an idea how she would like the world to be, in other words: she has an ideology, which might have some overlap with Scripture but misses the heart and essence of the Gospel message.

teacher_deb said...

James, This made me want to, cry, laugh and leap for joy. That person who was being interviewd could have been one of my own kids! Wow! How powerful is that? I am convinced there is a different way we need to "do church". It has everything to do with our community outside the walls of the building and the Bible, and some but little to do with taking care fo our own.

James Kim said...

I have been away from the computer for the last couple of days so I was not able to reply to the comments made by Anonymous.

First, thank you for taking the time to read my blogs and taking the initiative to post a comment. That means a lot.

You ask some very good questions. I think we should always be wrestling with asking how we can be faithful to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

There is one point, however, where I choose to stick to my guns about the original post.

Jesus said, "Let your light so shine before others so that when they see your good works they will glorify the Father in heaven" (Matt. 5:16). There is no such thing as having right beliefs (orthodoxy) without right living (orthopraxy). I don't think the Bible ever teaches that the only thing that matters is what we believe.

In fact, God has some strong words about that in the book of James. "In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by actions, is dead...You believe that there is one God, Good! Even the demons believe that - and shudder" (James 2:17-19).

You asked, "Has Christ called the church to heal all social evils?"

I think the answer to that question is to ask "Is Jesus Christ the hope of the world?"

And the answer to the latter is, "without a shadow of doubt, Jesus is the hope of the world."

The church is the body of Christ. So that means whatever Jesus will do, will be done through the church, the body of Christ.

Does that mean that every local church is the full embodiment of the body of Christ?

Of course not.

However, each church is uniquely gifted to bring the hope of Christ in tangible and real ways. So each local church is to engage fully in the cause of Jesus Christ to bring hope to this world. And together, when all churches are fully engaged with the ministry and the mission of Jesus Christ, we become the body of Christ.

I will stick to my guns in declaring, "If we believe that the local church is the hope of the world, then we must engage. We can no longer ignore the social issues of our day while preaching a "pure" gospel. The truth of the Bible must be accompanied by the truth of our actions otherwise the truth of the Bible is totally irrelevant."

Thanks again for reading my post and commenting.

I would love to hear your thoughts.

Blessings.

James <><