Thursday, December 01, 2016

People are leaving the church ... to follow Jesus!

I don't normally read the comments that follow articles or social media posts.
But after one article that lamented the overstepping of the religious right in the past election cycle, one comment caught my attention.

It said that across the country, people are leaving the church to follow Jesus.

Short. Simple. And sadly, true.

How I wish that our too proud and so smug religious celebrities could see this truth.
I choose to use the word celebrities instead of religious leaders because I feel that it fits better. I see that they often cultivate personal followers and supporters (fans) rather than showing Jesus as the one that we are to follow.

Sadly, there are also many local pastors that follow the same example. Perhaps my role as a supply preacher gives me a different perspective. For those that are not familiar with the term "supply preacher" that is a stand in or substitute for the the regular pastor.

If a large number of church members choose to skip church when they know the pastor will be gone, that is really a form of idolatry. They come to hear the pastor -- not to worship God. Pastors that cultivate this behavior or that don't address it as idolatry are missing out on their true calling in shepherding the flock.

I have listened to preachers that say inflammatory things that seem designed to get people to agree with him over political or social issues before getting to the meat of their message. Unfortunately, like others, I've already tuned out because this sermon isn't being given to glorify God, but ot gain followers for the preacher.

The pulpit isn't supposed to be a pep rally or high powered sales pitch.

Whether we find ourselves in the holy season of Christmas or in the political election season, our message must be the same --
God loves you.
Jesus died for you.

For the believer, our example must be as a follower of Jesus -- to live as He lived; to speak as He spoke; to love as He loved.

Do not be a follower of a preacher.
Do not be a follower of an organization or church.
Follow Jesus.

John <><


Kevin Gilmore said...

This is a subject that is very important to me these days as I reevaluate my relationship with the church. The main issue for me has been how too many churches continue to marginalize those of the GLBT persuasion yet the church turns a blind eye toward no lack of glaring idolatry issues among most everybody else in the congregation. It's wrong.

I also have a difficult time with how too many in the church are chomping-at-the-bit to march our sons and daughters off to war in the Middle East -- again. So much for the words of Jesus to love our enemies and not kill them. Or the way so many in the church are ardent supporters of our first amendment right to gun possession. I don't understand the fascination of so many Christians with war and guns. Would Jesus even recognize his followers based on these strongholds in their lives? I don't think so.

So yes, I'm one of those who left the church -- at least my conservative church where I was a member for the past 10 years. I've found a more progressive church (yes, progressive as in liberal) where all are welcome and we don't place hurdles in front of anyone before they can either attend or serve. If it weren't for this church I would not be attending at all anymore.

Mike said...

"How I wish that our too proud and so smug religious celebrities could see this truth."

Never going to happen.