Have you ever been to a big downtown city with someone set up holding a sign with an idea around some hot-topic issue followed by the words, change my mind? People are drawing attention to a subject and then inviting conversation because they think the evidence they have is bulletproof. Well, consider this sentence my metaphorical sign that reads, “We are living in one of the saddest generations in history. Change my mind.”
There’s a church on every corner. We are free to worship when and where we want. The bible can be accessed in record speed, in any language, at any given time. We can flip on the TV or get on social media and have access to instant sermons on any given topic we might be facing. There are hotlines and helplines ready to pray for you whenever you need it. Even still, the United States comes in number 2 for depression rates in the entire world!
It makes you wonder what the church is missing. Holding the number 2 title for the depression world champion is a clear indication that the church body is doing it wrong. The gospel is good news! Jesus is the hope that anchors the soul. Coming to him gives us rest for our weary souls. Somehow though, the church isn’t getting that message across to a world of weary, tired, depressed people. If we are working the harvest like we should, we wouldn’t even be a contender for the grand champion country with depression as the prize.
What are we doing wrong and how do we fix it? I think I know just he place to start so here me out. Jesus tells us in Matthew chapter 12: 43-45 what happens when someone gets religion but not relationship with him.
“When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.”
This is the whole of how you find “religious” folk who do more harm to the kingdom work than good. Jesus is showing us that no matter how ‘clean’ your life is, no matter what sin you have given up and no longer participate in, no matter what your life looks like on the outside, if you don’t ask Jesus to come into the clean house and fill your metaphorical home with a relationship with him, your final condition will be worse than your first. Ouch.
You can do all the right things. You can join the choir and go to bible study. You can give up drinking, drugs and other sinful indulgences. You can go to church, take notes and everything else, but unless you are chasing a relationship with Jesus like you would a new love, you are missing the mark. A church that doesn’t reflect a relationship with Jesus isn’t an effective one at all. The same desires are still there, the same hateful words bounce around in your spirit just looking for a way to get out. Without a changed heart, there is no need in all the rest. You will do more harm than good.
Don’t believe me? Well, what happens when a person who has a reputation of being a Christian but is void of a relationship with Jesus is triggered on social media? The way they respond and the words they use is a often done in malice with righteous indignation. This is anger driven by contempt. Anger driven by contempt is hurtful and often mean. It lacks the love, grace and mercy that we should always use when talking about Jesus and why following him is the best way. Don’t get me wrong, Jesus wasn’t meek and mild and neither should we be. He called out sin and told people to choose the way that led to him. When we are in a relationship with him (and not just afflicted with religion), he will not lead us into a response or way of life filled with anger and fueled by righteous indignation. We should all seek a relationship with Jesus so that we can be an effective worker in the harvest.
- Focus: The power of the tongue and it’s ability to heal or hurt the kingdom.
- Guiding Scriptures: Matthew 12:33-35 “You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.”
- Prayer: Ask the Lord to come into your heart again and help you to seek a relationship with him. Ask him to show you ways you are using your words to hurt yourselves and others and then pray he would change your heart so you can see yourselves and others the way he does.