Several years ago I wrote a blog entitled "In Search of Church." Lately I have read back over several of the blog posts I wrote, and knowing what was stirring beneath the surface inside of me has made me realize that not only am I in search of something, but I have actually been in search of something for some time.
Here is the question that weighs heavily on my mind. Is God really still interacting with the world as we know it? Most who wear the Christian label would immediately say, "Why of course," without even thinking about it. When pressed further, most of these would point to evidences of circumstances or ministries that they believe point to the work of God among us. Interestingly enough, many of these circumstances and ministries are duplicated in the non Christian world.
Over the years I have taught about God's work through the church. I, like many others, have taken the position that the church is the chosen pathway through which God chooses to work and to display His glory. Take a pause and realize that growing up Baptist limited the work of God to some extent because Baptists are scared silly of the Holy Spirit. Put the Holy Spirit aside, and Baptists will fall in line. Church is the way to go. Along with church, Baptists will teach about tithing, missions, Sunday School, and other such things. They will speak against drinking, gambling, and pornography. Not so much smoking because the deacons out front might object as they are putting their cigarettes out. All in all, though, Baptists will agree with most other denominations that God is best expressed within the confines of the church.
Notice that I used the word confines. That word was intentional because over the years, the church has become, in many cases, like the legalistic structure of the Jewish religion of old. Follow these rules, and the church will embrace you. Step out of line, and the church will reject you. Somehow living for Jesus became less about Jesus and more about the institution that even he fought against.
So back to the question. Is God still interacting with the world as well know it? Well, if the position of most who call themselves Christian is true, then the answer is "no, He is not at work." If the church is the chosen means whereby God choses to work, then I have to conclude that God has left the building. The church in America has become, by and large, nothing more than a religious institution perpetuating the ego and power struggle of those who wish to be God. They want to be seen as the final authority on truth and to be held in such high esteem that it rivals worship. It reminds me of what I was taught in elementary Sunday School about the devil's downfall. Leaders of the church today want others to see them as God, which in reality means they have made themselves an idol.
Research emphasizes the decline of spiritual awareness among Christians. Maybe I'll post those results tomorrow. For now, suffice it to say that we are worse off now that ever. Even with the Republican "messiah" in the White House. Imagine that. The church has lost her voice and lost her influence. The Spirit of God has moved on, it seems. America has become what Europe became with one difference. In Europe there are large empty church buildings with no Spirit. In America there are large full buildings with no Spirit. The only difference is the number of deceived people in the building. Go figure.
If God isn't at work around us, then where does that leave us? Interesting question right? An even more interesting question is whether or not you have the energy or desire to investigate the answer. Join me on the journey if you dare.