The state of the Church (capital C – the church as the whole body of Christ) is honestly alarming. We just can’t seem to help ourselves. We’re constantly shooting ourselves in the foot.
For every step forward we make for the Kingdom, we turn around and do something that pushes us back a country mile. Please notice that I’m saying we. "We" always includes me. I have not arrived, and, frankly, I’m not even close. I mess up far more than I care to admit.
The Apostle Paul spoke of sinful nature in Romans 7:15 and I’ve never related to a verse more than this one. “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” The truth is that we’re all sinners but that’s exactly why we need Jesus.
As a result of accepting the free gift of salvation, we then have a responsibility. In Matthew 28:19-20, we are given crystal clear instructions.
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Hearing this verse from a very young age, I used to think it was only geared toward missionaries and those called to nations all over the world. However, that’s a baby Christian’s theology.
The Great Commission is our commandment as Christians in general. Our life is our mission field. Our families, our coworkers, and strangers at the grocery store. Literally everywhere we step is our mission field.
So, if this is our “Great Commission,” then why is the Church in its current state? Well, Matthew 28:19-20 might be our great commission, but it isn’t our only commission. We aren’t just called to spread the Gospel of Christ; we are called to be likeChrist. This is where we fail in spectacular fashion. How can we possibly win souls when we are representing Him so poorly? As this thought was working its way through me, examples kept coming to mind. It’s not one thing; it’s a culmination of many wrongs. Here are just a few:
1. We love the world
This one is a doozy. When Christians say things like, "We’re not supposed to love the world," it makes us sound quite hateful. But let me explain.
We are called to love every single person in this world because each of us is created by God, in His image. However, we live in a sinful, satanic world. Did you know that Satan has dominion over the world system? God Almighty is ultimately in control, but He has given Satan authority over the world systems during this time until His return to rule and reign for eternity.
Ephesians 2:1-2 explains who rules this world. “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience.” The prince of the power of the air is Satan. We are called to be a separate people. We are obviously in this world, but we must not be of this world.
John 15:19 says, “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” Those are strong words but it provides much-needed clarity. When you are living fully for Christ, there will inherently be enmity between you and the world. Darkness and light do not coexist. When we see Christians having a mutual love affair with the things of this world, that should raise a red flag. We are called to be the light of the world.
The world should see something different in us and ask themselves, what is different about them and how can I get it?! We are to shine our lights, not be overtaken by darkness.
2. We no longer find church important
When did Christians stop going to church?! It seems to be totally optional now. I know COVID played a part in this “online” movement but this has been going on long before the last couple of years. It is just so obvious to me that many Christians consider attending church as inconsequential. Some come right out and say, “You know, you don’t have to go to church to be saved.” For others, it just isn’t a priority. It seems as though every other thing takes precedence over an hour-long service once or twice a week.
Here’s the thing, you can be saved and not go to church.
However, it is vital to the success of our spiritual well-being. In Matthew 18:20, Jesus says, “where two or more are gathered in my name, I am among them.” There is nothing quite as refreshing or filling as being in the presence of God with like-minded believers. We need to be filled. We need to be filled with His Word, filled with the Holy Spirit, and filled with the love of His children. That happens in the house of God.
Watching services online is a great resource, don’t get me wrong. Thank God for the technology to spread the Gospel in this way. But I fear that those who use it as a replacement are lacking what they need to withstand these last days. Hebrews 10:24-25 speaks to this very topic. “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” The day in which the Lord will call us home is certainly drawing near, friends.
3. We’re too busy fighting each other
No one will ever want to join a team that is known for not having each other’s backs. There is no rule that says you have to be best friends just because you’re Christians. However, you have the most important thing in common and it should trump everything else! Discord in the church is a massive issue.
Pride, jealousy, and self-righteousness are cancers that spread like wildfire throughout a congregation. Proverbs 6:16-19 makes a very strong statement.
"There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.”
Clearly, this is something that the Lord takes very seriously. This is what happens when we take our eyes off Jesus. We don’t have to agree with everyone. We don’t even have to necessarily like everyone, but we are called to love them. How do we show love? We respect, we protect, we encourage, and we speak truth. 1 Peter 4:8 says, “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” No matter the differences between us, we must never forget that we have a common goal and that’s to win souls for Christ.
We will never be successful in winning unbelievers if we can’t even love own brothers and sisters in Christ.
4. We are Christians in name only
We call ourselves Christians, but we couldn’t be picked out of a lineup. We might go to church regularly. We might tithe to our church. We might even volunteer at our church. But we don’t pray as we should. We don’t read our Bibles. We couldn’t sing a worship song to save our lives.
But you know what we can do? We can tell you exactly what happened on Grey’s Anatomy last Thursday. We can name the starting lineup for the Yankees tonight. We can sing you a medley of the country Top 40.
Am I saying you’re not saved if you enjoy those things? Of course not. My point is that what we consume, will surely come out of us. Matthew 15:18 says, “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.” Additionally, Proverbs 27:19 says, “As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man.” When we are only filled with things of this world, where do you think our focus will be? If we’re never crying out to God in prayer or diving into His Word, He will never be our focus. If He isn’t our focus then, by default, we adopt an earthly mindset.
An earthly mindset will never move forward to the Kingdom of God. We have no sense of urgency with an earthly mindset. We’re never going to think of Christ’s imminent return while we’re immersed in the things of this world. An eternal, heavenly mindset is mandatory to be an effective Christian. An eternally focused believer knows that He could return at any moment. A heavenly-minded Christ follower understands the assignment, so to speak. We don’t have any time to waste. The Bible states repeatedly that we don’t know the day or the hour in which He will return. So what does that mean?
It means today is the day of salvation. Today is the day to give your all to Jesus and dedicate yourself to His cause. We must immerse ourselves in Him and eagerly await His return. 2 Timothy 4:8 says, “Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.” We must know that our inheritance is not here on this temporal, decaying earth, but in Heaven where Christ has been preparing a place for us. You will love His appearing once you fall out of love with this world.
My prayer is that we all heed these words and recalibrate our lives. None of us have arrived. We will never reach perfection but thankfully, He doesn’t expect perfection out of us. He expects us to continually commit ourselves to Him. A sobering verse that I have committed to memory is Psalm 51:10. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” We’re going to mess up; we’re human.
But we have a perfect Savior who is willing to restore us every single time. He is the only true hope we have and we need to speak of His work in our lives. When you love someone or something, it becomes very obvious in your actions. It is a presence in your life. Our relationship with Jesus should be no different. Let your love for Him radiate throughout your life. Not only in your words, but in your treatment of others. In your appearance. In your attitude, in your behavior, in your work ethic. Submit yourself to Him and watch Him permeate every area of your life.
Erica Caudill is a lifelong Christian who runs a blog. She is a married mother of two children. She can be reached at email@example.com.