The Church in Dangerous Times
We are living in what I consider to be the most spiritually dangerous time in Christianity, because the contemporary Christian church is at a crossroads. We’re living in what can be called the age of compromise and deception. Unless extreme measures are taken to seek the Kingdom of God, you are in more danger in the church then you could ever be outside of it. Those that are a part of the church of Laodicea are called wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked by Christ. This church is sternly instructed to be transformed by the power of Christ, the cross, and His righteousness. In Revelation, the beloved disciple John reveals that by the end of the church age, Christ will be standing at the door of the church, knocking and seeking entrance into the hearts of individuals that still have the capacity to hear and recognize His voice but the outcome is not clearly mentioned. As you listen to the text, you hear what He is saying to those who hear Him: “I will come in…” Jesus emphasizes ‘hearing’ His knock because now hearing is scarce. Hearing is scarce because hearing the voice of God is hearing the Word of God and the Word of God is not being preached in the contemporary church, referred to, but not proclaimed and explained.
I know that it makes a lot of people feel extremely nervous and uncomfortable when they hear me make the emphatic proclamation about the church. After all, the church has historically meant a lot to all of us. Nostalgia and the many positive neurological associations that come to mind regarding the church secures a special place in our hearts for her. While this has been a very sensitive and critical issue in our contemporary society, the fact still remains that whether or not I pronounce those doors closed or not, Christ in Revelation 3:20 is still standing at the door knocking! Whether we like it or not, the undeniable implication of this scripture is that people are having church and Jesus is not in the room!
Change and transition are very difficult. We all enjoy and are comfortable at some level with our sacred cows of the past. For good or ill, our sacred cows of the past have become our identity and our history; they are inextricably tied to who we have become. When I stand and proclaim that the doors of the church are closed I do so with careful prophetic analysis and theological investigation. I am not saying the doors of the church are closed due to my frustration with church nor to my lack of appreciation for what the church has done historically. I have a great appreciation for the church, as erroneous and as off as it may be spiritually. It is the bridge that has brought many of us to an understanding and an acceptance of the concept of God. It is the bridge that has brought some of us to the understanding of some of the general spiritual practices that we now engage in, such as prayer, devotion, fasting, and tithing.
We are in transition but transition is good! Christian Schwarz, a German Theologian, states in his book entitled, “Paradigm Shift in the Church” that every reformation movement is confronted with an opposing force known as orthodoxy.
This was the case in the days of the 16th century reformation in the Roman Catholic Church and in days of the Pietistic revival in Europe, and is also the case in today’s contemporary churches.
The question may be, “Has there ever been any good that has come out of the church?” And the answer to that is “Of course.” The church always has and still is producing people that love God. However, the majority of churches are not producing disciples for Christ. They are creating financial support for the service of debt and the purpose of profit and increase. There are people getting saved in the church. Even in the Roman Catholic Church, people are born again/saved. However, their salvation is due neither to the vision or the context of the corporate church. People get saved because of the passion and aggression of select individuals who desire to know more about God. However, the church must change to conform itself to the originally intended Kingdom purposes of a Sovereign God – “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19, 20 – The Great Commission)