A Reflection on “The Shack”

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The Trouble with the Politically Correct Church

May I be honest with you? I’ve sat on this one for a few days because our nation is such a hotbed of violent political banter and demonstrations in this time leading up to the election, that I don’t want to appear as the online equivalent of lighter fluid. I do think, however, a comment made by an Arkansas friend sheds so much light on the issue that it deserves to be shared. 

Barbara Conrady is the mother of a school mate from our time in Arkansas. My sister, Jessica, and her son Elton were in the same grade. In an online discussion the other night, Mrs. Conrady said, “It is time for followers of Jesus to stand up and speak. The Church has been deceived by political correctness.” Wow. There was so much truth packed into those two sentences that I knew immediately I’d have to blog this. It was too good to keep to myself. Let me share with you what I appreciate about her insightful comment.

First, notice the capitalization of the word, “Church.” This was done intentionally, I’m most certain, as a reference to the “Church” as the body of Christ. It doesn’t mean a building with a steeple, filled with pews. The Church is the living, breathing body of Christian believers, who are called by God to be set apart from the rest of the world. 

Romans 12:2 ESV~ “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

John 17:15-18 ESV~ “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.”

Let me repeat this… we are called by God to be set apart from the rest of the world. Why then are we so afraid to do this? Why are we so scared of hurting feeling or ruffling feathers that we would rather sit in silent acceptance of the world as it is? 

I think her comment explains it perfectly.  Not only society, but also our churches (brick and mortar buildings) encourage us to be politically correct. We can’t possibly say THAT to THIS group of people, because it just wouldn’t be right. It might upset someone. I’m thinking back to all of the lessons we are taught in the Bible. Times when Jesus, or even the disciples, spoke to people about turning from their sins. I don’t remember one time that they failed to deliver a message of truth to a group of people out of fear that someone might get their feelings hurt. These men were willing to risk their very lives to speak the truth about God’s commandments. Today, are we to be more concerned about people’s FEELINGS or about their ETERNITY? 

I know there are certain “hot topics” that many churches steer clear of mentioning. Mind you, I didn’t say all churches, but many. Race, religion, money, sexuality (homosexuality, adultery), abortion, divorce, politics… I’m sure there are more. These are the issues that will literally split a church. I’ve seen it happen. 

In my lifetime, I’ve attended several amazing churches, and I can attest that the ones in which my spirit has been fed the most are the churches where the pastor is strong in his faith, and speaks words of truth from the Scripture. I admire a pastor who is brave in his beliefs, and doesn’t water down the message he’s called to bring to the Church body. If your pastor has rooted his belief system in the Word of God, and can back it up with such, how can we as the Body of Christ disagree? If the Bible is our guidebook, and our church structures itself on Biblical principles, how can we object? Seems logical, but free will (our opportunity to chose right or wrong, righteousness or sin) comes into play, and this is where the disconnect begins.

You may have met those Believers who tell you they agree with “parts” of the Bible. I’ve never really understood how that works. Do they think that God put these commands and instructions in there as a multiple choice, and we are somehow granted the power to chose “none of the above” as an acceptable answer? I don’t believe that’s how my God works. I think His Word is His Word. I think if He didn’t mean it, He wouldn’t have said it. Surely, as imperfect as we are on a daily basis, we don’t somehow think we know better than God Almighty, the Maker of Heaven and Earth. 

I had a friend last week who decided we could no longer be friends because he didn’t agree with the way I was voting in this election. Aside from being incredibly shocked, I did have one moment of thinking that just maybe I was doing something right. I’m standing firm in my beliefs- beliefs that I can back up with Scripture- and I’m doing what I know in my heart is the right thing. It’s not my place to condemn you for disagreeing with me, but if I’m being called to be set apart, and the rest of the world seems fine with glossing over what is nothing more than pure sin, then it’s okay for me to speak what I know is truth. Not just in a political arena, either. Sin is sin is sin. Period. We all know when we do it. It’s not our job to placate the world, and tell them that their sin is fine, because HEAVEN FORBID we upset someone! What we are told is not to judge. I can disagree with you without judging and condemning you. The manner in which the message is delivered is 99.9% of the task. 

I’ll give you an example. I have a friend I simply adore. We truly have a Spirit bond with one from the moment we met. We’ve prayed together, cried together, and had some really tough discussions. One of the reasons I love her so dearly is that she is a straight shooter with me. There’s no sugar-coating of anything. Life is very black and white. In one sinful period of my life I was about to enter into something that my friend saw as dangerous to me. She came to me, not in judgement, hatred, or anger; but in sincerity, discernment, and love. The human side of me didn’t like the message she brought in that moment, because it wasn’t what I wanted to hear. My Spirit, on the other hand, knew it was exactly what I needed to hear. She’s loved me through mistakes, and she’s loved me through my successes. I think that is the example Christ wants us to follow as the Church body. 

If we see a brother or sister falter in sin, sin as defined by Biblical principles, we are called to love them. This does not mean we are called to encourage them in their sin. There is a difference. The Bible doesn’t call us to political correctness. That’s an instruction from the world. Did you catch that? The world. The sinful, ego-driven, self-absorbed, destructive world that we live in is giving us this instruction, not Jesus. 

I pray for our country, and my prayer is primarily this- that each member of the Church body would demonstrate the love and kindness to all humans that we are called to by our Heavenly Father. He created us all. There are no perfect people on this planet. We are all imperfect sinners, and can only find redemption through His unfailing grace and mercy. He’s been so generous to us. It’s a shame we don’t do that for one another.

Our churches need to have the courage to preach the truth. Our pastors should pray to God for the perfect words to speak to His Body. I know many of them do. We, as a collective whole, should be praying and lifting up our pastors and churches now more than ever. Christians have to embrace what we are called to do. It isn’t always an easy thing, but for the brief time we are in this planet, don’t you want to experience the fulfillment that can only be achieved when we are living FULLY in the will of God? I know I do. If it causes me to lose a few friends in the process, I’m so sorry they would chose that route. I can only speak for myself. That’s who I’m accountable for, after all. I’m not going anywhere. I’m staying right here, and I’m loving everyone- every single person, regardless.

Our job is not to encourage the world to do whatever makes them happy. Many sinful things can make people “happy.” As Christians, we aren’t called to happiness, we are called to righteousness. 

We have to have the courage to make that stand. It’s time for His people to speak. Speak.

Let Me Introduce You To My Jesus- a reblog from May 25, 2010

I am thrilled beyond words that I’ve been asked to contribute to this purposeful blog. Thank you so much for the invitation and honor. I feel I should give a brief background to offer a little insight into my relationship with Christ. I spent fourteen years of my life being a staff kid. My father was the business administrator at one of the largest Baptist churches in Arkansas. I came to accept Jesus as my personal Saviour when I was ten and have grown up with an understanding of the responsibility we all share when it comes to leading others to Christ.

Mark 16:15 ESV
And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation…”

As Christians we are created to serve two primary purposes. The first being to worship and give praise to our Lord Jesus. The second being to lead others to Christ. Evangelism was an integral part of our church’s foundation and many classes were offered to help teach Christians effective witnessing techniques. I remember many nights overhearing my parents and their friends practicing and studying their “Evangelism Explosion” notebooks in preparation for the door-to-door visitations which would start upon completion of training. My parents and their friends memorized verses, knocked on doors, and presented the Gospel to any and all who would listen. My most vivid childhood memory, however, of my mother telling someone about Jesus had nothing to do with a planned presentation. It happened instead at our local grocery store. I was about nine years old and standing in the checkout line with her. A young mother with her two children was standing in front of us frantically trying to count out change for her milk as one of her children was crying inconsolably. Even I picked up on her distress. She was coming up short and the cashier was being neither kind nor patient with her. My mother quietly stepped forward and said, “Let me buy your milk for you in the name of Jesus. It’s what He wants us to do for one another.” That tiny snippet in life made a lasting impression and taught me that even in our gestures and actions we are given the opportunity to tell others about our God. It doesn’t have to be a perfectly-scripted scene and we don’t have to be Biblical scholars to do the task which is set before us.

In my teenage and adult years I’ve been blessed by having the experience of getting to pray with several people as they accept Christ. Sometimes it has been a situation where I feel God telling me very clearly to speak to someone and other times it is more subtle, quiet. About five years ago I was feeling very convicted that I hadn’t lead anyone to the Lord in such a long time. I told God that morning that if He would open the door for me to speak to someone I’d be more than happy to do so. I was having a yard sale that particular day and spoke to all of the visitors who came into my yard. A girl I had never seen before came up to discuss a picture of mine she was wanting to buy and I noticed cuts and scrapes on her arm. I asked if she was okay and she went into a lengthy story about a car accident she and her child had been in just a few days earlier. She said to me (and I PROMISE this is exactly how she said it), “It’s a good thing we didn’t die cause you know I’m not a Christian and all…” My mouth literally fell open. Are you kidding me, God?! I get the message loud and clear! I asked her to wait for a second, turned around and marched into my house, came back outside with my Bible, and read John 3:16 to her. Sitting right there on my white porch swing this sweet girl prayed to receive Christ. I was so happy for her and thrilled that God had so clearly set this up. As Christians we are happiest and have the most joy when are living in the fullness of His plan for us. I was so thankful to know that in that moment the fullness of His plan for me that day was being accomplished.

Several years ago I was praying for a friend who was very ill, dying in fact. In an effort to coordinate her friends and family from across the country I decided to start a Facebook prayer group for her. Through no reason other than the amazing power of Jesus this prayer group in less than a week grew to over 800 members. People my friend didn’t even know from all over the world were praying for her. God healed my friend and allowed this wonderful prayer group to become the foundation for “Church Without Walls (the not-so-small small group)” on Facebook. I described it as an “uncommon common ground for people to meet on Facebook” and encouraged people to “check their denominations at the door”. It serves as a place to meet and leave prayer requests and share testimonies of what God is doing in their lives. After seeing God move through the prayer group in such a palpable way it was obvious that His work needed to continue. This group has been life changing for me in ways that I never even expected. I realized a new-found accountability to the people I was writing to through the devotions and songs on that site. When Jesus is speaking through us and using us as a tool we must be sure that we are living up to that privilege. I’ve had days of struggle with this, days I didn’t feel “worthy”, but the beauty of the Lord is that He is always loving, always accepting. He died for us and wants to spend eternity with us. That’s the Jesus I want people to get to know. In the age of social media we are able to reach miles beyond where our legs could carry us. That’s one reason I get so amped up about groups like Kingdom Bloggers. I can’t imagine a more productive use of the Internet than bringing people into His kingdom.

We are called to share the good news of our Lord through our word and our actions. Whether it be face to face, on the phone, or through the computer God wants to use each of us as His mouthpiece. Pray that He will provide the opportunity. I promise He will bring it to you.

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