Death Sentence

The word of God has been so thoroughly tamed that as peddled in the churches there is nothing scandalous, strenuous, or revolutionary about it. It is not even difficult. It is easier to join a Christian church than it is to join Rotary. Whereas in some eras of its history, Christianity was threatened by persecution, in our own American culture, it faces an opposite threat which lies in its very success. Christianity is dying, not of persecution or neglect, but of respectability. W. Waldo Beach from The Christian Life, Richmond, Va.: CLC Press, 1966, p. 11

Shock jock radio hosts achieved their title and their notoriety because of their ability to say things that stretched people beyond their comfort zone. Often times these diatribes pushed not only people’s boundaries but the standards of good taste. However, despite the outrage that they often precipitated, the hosts’ fame and wallets grew. It became so that what they said was evaluated not by the content, but by the number of listeners that it reached, and because the best way to keep people talking is to say something shocking, good manners, facts, and society’s standards were often left by the wayside.

In the quotation above, Beach suggests the church faces the opposite problem. Written almost a half century ago, the author posits that the Church, in an attempt to not offend anybody, accepts everything. Read that sentence again. It does not say that the folly of the church is to accept everyone, for we know that God wishes all to come to a saving knowledge of Him (See I Timothy 2:3-4). However, loving a person and loving their behavior are two very different things. In many cases, perhaps in an effort to demonstrate love, the church has ceased to preach the hard and difficult aspects of being a Christian. And because of this, the Church ceases to be the representative of Christ in the world, and instead, because a do-good organization bound by the standards of Christianity but void of its power. For just like the Word is the light onto our individual paths, so it is for the Church. Without it, the church no longer serves its purpose.

Much has been said about the need for individuals to find and live their purpose. This idea is intertwined with the often individualistic way of American life.Β  The idea is that if a person does not do that which they were created for, their life will be meaningless and vapid. It is the same for the Church. If we are willing to put to death all that God called the Church should be, both the provider of love as well as the proclaimer of truth, both the dispenser of discipline as well as the refuge for the recluse, then we should not be surprised when the Church too experiences a slow and stifled death.

What do you think?