Jesus promised that His Church would be unstoppable.
“Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.” (Matthew 16:18, NLT)
From the outset,
the Church has always been God’s Plan A for advancing His Kingdom Reign here on earth.
There is no Plan B.
But, somewhere, somehow something has gone horribly wrong. This Church that Jesus Christ said would be unstoppable has been largely rendered irrelevant and ineffective in the Western world. It appears, at least at times and in certain places that the powers of hell have prevailed and this once unstoppable force in the world has become stoppable.
Truthfully, however, Satan hasn’t stopped the Church. Christians have!
HERE ARE THREE WAYS CHURCHES STOP THEMSELVES
1. Deny God’s power and accept personal power plays
“You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!” (2 Timothy 3:1–5, NLT)
These are church folks he’s talking about! People who are more interested in using their power to influence others, rather than allowing God’s power to influence them. And our churches are full of them!
People lament how America is going down the tubes – how religion is losing its influence in America. Religion is losing its influence in America because God is losing His influence in religion.
It’s not society that’s become more secular, it’s the church!
The only thing that makes us different than the rest of society is the Spirit of God working in us. If we deny God’s power, we die powerless.
2. Receive grace but give law
The first Christians were Jewish converts so naturally they wanted every new Christian to follow their Jewish laws.
“But then some of the believers who belonged to the sect of the Pharisees stood up and insisted, “The Gentile converts must be circumcised and required to follow the law of Moses.”” (Acts 15:5, NLT)
And it’s been happening over and over again for 2,000 years! Every group has their own little set of man-made traditions that they expect everyone else to follow.
Where they freely walked across a bridge to Christ, they’ve now constructed a barrier to keep others out.
But Peter acknowledging that both Jewish and Gentile converts to Christ are both saved in the same way, asked,
“So why are you now challenging God by burdening the Gentile believers with a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors were able to bear? We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.”” (Acts 15:10–11, NLT)
Maybe the world has changed for the worse because the church hasn’t change at all. When you’re more concerned with tradition than transformation people who don’t understand your traditions want nothing to do with them, you, church, or Christ.
The leaders of the Jerusalem church 2,000 years ago came to the right conclusion.
“And so my judgment is that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.” (Acts 15:19, NLT)
Why do we still make it so difficult?
3. Comfort insiders and afflict outsiders
The Pharisees would grumble and gripe because Jesus hung out with sinners. So one day he turned to them and said,
“Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.”” (Luke 5:31–32, NLT)
Jesus came to save sinners! Yet, so many churches are content to just have their own private little insider parties and they don’t realize that Jesus has left the building.
When we focus on insiders, we’re saying to outsiders, “You can just go to hell.”
And that’s exactly what’s happening. While we’re busy playing church with our country club friends and debating minute doctrinal mysteries, real people are dying and going to hell.
Pastor Erwin McManus asks, “When have we forgotten that the church doesn’t exist for us? We are the church and we exist for the world.”
The church is the only organization that doesn’t exist for its members.
The irony is that a church that focuses on sick people will be healthy and a church that focuses on healthy people will become sick and eventually die.
Or, as Ed Stetzer says, “A church without broken people is a broken.”
Indeed, Satan hasn’t stopped the Church. We have!
What other attitudes, practices, or behaviors do you think Christians do to stop themselves?