“So, what is the church and Christianity all about?” is not an unexpected question in our multi-cultural, secular, post modern and post Christendom world.
During the 1960s, large numbers of people stopped going to church, chose civil rather than church weddings, didn’t have their babies christened or baptized and stopped encouraging their children to go to Sunday School. As a result, later generations have grown up without the influence of Christian parents, Christianity and the church in general.
Vast numbers today rarely darken the door of a church and have no idea what church or Christianity is all about. Consequently, the real meaning of life itself is lost, along with the moral benchmarks and value systems that stem from the Scriptures and are fundamental to a well-balanced and civilized society.
Recently I read something very challenging. It concerned a teenager at a school in London. The teenager, who had no church connections at all, listened intently to his teacher telling the Christmas story. He had never heard this before and found it fascinating and amazing. Risking his friend’s mockery, he nonetheless approached the teacher and having thanked her for the story, he asked: “Why did they give the baby a swear word for his name?” 1
Christianity and the Church appear to have been side-lined or marginalized. Increasingly, new legislation is being tabled which undermines Christian values and the proclamation of the Gospel.
Tragically, the Church has lost much of its witness and power through compromise, giving way to the worldly pressures to drop standards so as to make members and visitors feel comfortable, incorporating new age practices into the worship and countless other practices which are not supported by Scripture (teachings of the Bible).
People can be forgiven for wondering whether the Church and Christianity are indeed relevant in these days. And yet it is relevant – provided that Jesus remains central to the message preached and the Word of God, the Bible, is believed, preached and taught in its entirety.
The spiritual definition of the Church is, very broadly, the “body of Christ”, the true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. Where do the churches you and I attend fit in?
As an institution, the church is where people gather to worship and honour God. It is where one goes to learn more about Jesus in order to get to know Him better. The church is there to help Christians grow spiritually - to be taught His Word (the Bible) in truth, to pray, to fellowship with one another and encourage one another. The church should also be actively reaching out to those who do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour.
Although the church cares for the material, temporal and emotional aspects of people’s lives, it has a great responsibility to care for the spiritual edification of members, adherents, visitors and the community. The tragedy with many churches these days is that they have many humanitarian projects (all good and well), but they leave out the most important aspect - going in the Name of Jesus and using the opportunity to provide people with the eternal message of Jesus Christ. Providing the true Bread of Life (Jesus) to people in need, gives the opportunity for people to receive the free gift of eternal life. Doing good deeds without reaching out with the Gospel makes the church no different from the rest of the secular world.
The church should be a Beacon of Light in the community. It needs to be pointing people to the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6), the Lord Jesus Christ. While encouraging fellowship amongst its members, it is should not be viewed as a mere social club. As a church, we are living in perilous times. People are looking for hope and security - the church should be providing this through the message of the Cross of Jesus. Only in Him can true peace, hope and security be found.
1 “Post Christendom – Church and Mission in a strange new world” Stuart Murray
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