The Dangers of Misunderstanding "Church"

Unfortunately, the purpose of the church is being completely misunderstood today.  And it's leading to some major doctrinal compromise.  (And when I say "church," I am talking about the biblical church.  The Bible-believing, Jesus-following church.)

I have read many comments and blog posts online lately from Christians and the world alike which present "church" like this ...

"Church is where all sinners should feel welcome.  We should be doing all we can to reach out to sinners and to make them feel comfortable here.  And we should be striving for unity, not causing division by focusing on peripheral issues like homosexuality, women pastors, abortion, doctrinal differences between different religions, etc..  Everyone should feel loved and supported at church, not condemned or shamed."

Okay ... I agree that sinners should find a place at church, because we are all sinners and because church is where we find hope and truth and salvation from sin.  We should all feel welcome to come and hear the truth.  Because we are all in need of a Savior, of forgiveness and grace and mercy.  

But here's the problem:  Churches are trading in truth to make sinners feel comfortable!  They are holding up "make sinners comfortable" to such a high degree that truth and doctrine have become secondary, if they are even there at all.  

And that should never be!

Churches should not cut out the uncomfortable parts of the Bible to make people feel good about themselves and their sinful lifestyles.  It should not put people's feelings over God's Word.  It should not seek unity when it means unity with the world or with religions that worship other gods or with those who alter the Bible or deny clear teachings.

Church is supposed to be a place where believers can come together and learn about God's Word, pray, sing worship songs, encourage each other, build each other up in truth, and share the truth with those who need it or want it.  

It's about developing unity with other Jesus-following, Bible-believing people, not with the world or with religions that teach other ways to heaven or with those who spread false doctrine.  

It's about firmly standing on the Gospel, about sharing with others God's love and truth and the way to heaven, so that they can find salvation in Jesus and get free from the hold of sin.

It's not about trying to make people comfortable with their sin or about trying to join in unity with a sinful world.

Jesus Himself says that He didn't come to bring peace, but to bring a sword (Matthew 10:34-35).  He came to divide people from the world, not to unite them with the world.  He warns that we will stand out from the world because of our beliefs and that we will be hated by the world for the truth we hold to.

And yet what are many Christians and churches doing?

Softening the truth so that we can make everyone comfortable and cozy, so that we don't hurt anyone's feelings or make anyone feel bad about what they do.

Sinner should feel welcome at church.  They should know that they have a place there, that they can come as they are.  

But they should not be encouraged to stay as they are.

If a church is doing its job right, they will preach the truth in love and challenge people to seek righteousness, to bring God glory in all they do, to obey the Word, to become more and more like Jesus.  They will prepare people to live in a world that hates the truth and that will try to force them to compromise their beliefs.  They will "love God" first and "love others" second, instead of following society's great lie that "love others is the greatest commandment."

But they will not compromise or soften God's Truth to make people happy and comfortable.  

It's one thing to make sinners feel welcome, but it's another thing to welcome sin!  

And sadly, this is the state of many churches today!

If you are in a church that never addresses sin or that never makes you feel a bit uncomfortable when it does talk about sin, that only talks about God's all-accepting, never-condemning love and only gives you pleasing messages that make you feel good and all warm inside ... if are in a church that never makes you feel convicted or humbled before God, that makes you feel like you are totally okay just like you are ... if you are in a church that preaches any other way to heaven than Jesus or that teaches that it doesn't matter what you believe because "all paths lead to heaven" ... then you need to get out of there fast!

And on the other extreme:  If you are in a church that always makes you feel terrible about your sin, that makes you feel like God could never accept you or love a sinner like you, like there is no hope for you, like you have to work really, really hard (and give them money) to earn God's love and forgiveness, or like the church leadership should have supreme control and authority over your spiritual life (instead of the rightful King - Jesus) ... get out of there fast, too.

One extreme is preaching God's justice but not His love.  And one is preaching His love but not His justice.  But both of these are damaging.  Both miss the mark and mislead people.  

A church that's doing it right will preach God's love and justice.  It will preach the hard truths but in grace and love.  It will reach out to sinners and be compassionate, but it will not be tolerant of sin or change the Bible to accommodate sin.  

It's a balance.  And many churches get it wrong, to the detriment of God's Kingdom!

For more on the purpose of the church, according to the Bible, click here.     

For a look at one's man guilty conscience for preaching truth, click here (satire).

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