Saturday, January 12, 2008

And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry. “Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’ “But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’ Luke 15:20-30

I love young people; I believe that is what keeps me young (acting anyway).
So when I heard the words “our youth today” coming from the TV, my ears perked up and my attention was riveted to the CBN program that was on. A man from the Barna Group has written a book “UnChristian” and he was talking about a survey they had done with about 800 teenagers. You’ll have to read the book to get all the details, but what caught my attention was when he said that the majority of the surveyed group, Christian and non-Christian said that the church of today did not represent a Jesus that they would want to know. To them there is little love, and compassion, only judgmental and sometimes competitive attitudes.

As the author mentioned, the church has become something like the brother of the Prodigal son. He had very little compassion when his brother returned and was even jealous when he saw how their father received him. The jealous brother felt that the long lost brother did not deserve anything because after all, wasn’t he the loyal one, the one that had did all the “work”. Didn't he deserve all the rewards?

I began to think about this and sorry to say, though I am sure that this does not happen in all churches, it does in some. The emphasis is no longer on evangelism and reaching out, but has turned inward, on how much the church can accomplish inside the four walls. How big of a building can be built (I think the church believes that “if we build it they will come”) when in truth the Bible has told us to go out and reach them.

And there is competitiveness on how blessed you appear to be in material things. I could tell you some stories of things people have done all in the name of appearing “blessed”. Often this is encouraged from the pulpit. People are told that if they bless their leaders (by giving monetarily) then they will be blessed in the same way or more. Very little is said about giving to the poor or reaching the lost in our neighborhoods. Very little is said on how to love the unbelievers that we come in contact with everyday. Much emphasis is placed on "works" and how those "works" will you reward you, not those in the highways and the byways.

So you can see how a young person seeing this over and over again can say that the organized church of today does not represent a Jesus that they would want to know. Shame on us!

For the last few years the Lord has been teaching me what it is like to be His hands, His eyes and His heart. I could not do this within the four walls of an organized church. I (and this is in my personal walk with the Lord) had to come out in order to follow Him.

He is teaching me how to truly love the “unlovely”, how to give and not expect back from others, how to really pray and want the best for people, how to have compassion without being judgmental. In doing this I pray that the people, especially the young people that I am around and come into my path will see a Jesus that they will want to invite into their lives.

No comments: