This is a follow-up to the introductory article in this series.
The original article that introduces the series is at this link: Revival begins in the church… but so does judgment!
We have now had the second meeting to set the agenda for the prayer initiative, with a more encouraging outcome. This meeting revolved around a change in focus – this time we discussed the need for repentance within the church (USA specifically). This appears to be progress in the right direction. If the church is not seen by secular society as holy, righteous and good, how can we assert the moral high ground in condemning the “wickedness” around us? Our assignment this week was to think about areas where the church need to hold itself accountable (for past and current abuses) by confession and repentance.
These were the thoughts that came to my mind (adding to the other posts in this series) as areas of needed repentance within the community of faith:
Lack of internal governance, arrogance and pride, willful ignorance, un-Christ-like actions and attitudes, fraudulent actions and self-interested agenda.
- Church leaders should publicly confess that they have routinely held themselves to a lesser standard than members of their flock and even the “worldly” leaders they denounce. Religious leaders should and will be held to at least the same standard of accountability that is becoming the norm in business and government. (Not that these groups have it all together either, but most have recognized the need for high-level accountability and are implementing policies to address the need.) Church governance should include: transparency, accountability, and the same limits on positional authority that are expected in business and government.
- Church leaders and members need to confess to arrogance and self-righteous spiritual pride in relating to the world outside their own doors – as well as those within their sacred walls. No human can claim to comprehend the vastness and complexity of the universe we observe, much less the One who made it. It is a sign of childish ignorance and arrogant hubris to claim that any group of believers has fully discovered all possible truth, let alone have an absolute monopoly on all truth.
- Church leaders and church members need to stop running from discussing or even trying to understanding the emerging advances in science, and the reality of changes in modern cultures. Refusing to even enter the dialogue only reinforces the perception that Christians are defensive and reactionary in addressing current events and larger social issues. From the standpoint of secular society, this appears to be a defense mechanism of denial or avoidance, which implies a lack of confidence in one’s position. If we truly certain in our positions and beliefs, then we should be able to engage the rest of society with both confidence and humility, not counter attacks and strident posturing.
- Church leaders need to confess on behalf of the universal Church that we have not been an adequate example of Christ-like behavior. All churches that are willing to participate in the corporate body of Christ should begin to take His own words seriously. It is easy enough to condemn abortion providers and those who seek to terminate pregnancy as long as this is not personally relevant to us in our current situation. But to take a stand against allowing abortion, but then deny support for unwed mothers who have no means of supporting themselves or a child, is both logically and morally absurd. Throughout the Bible, God commands that the widows and orphans should be cared for by those who are able to do so. Likewise, to leave the homeless to fend for themselves in dangerous conditions, or even remove them from all public spaces, is a direct violation of the command to care for the poor, destitute, and oppressed. Oddly enough, the more conservative and fundamentalist groups often criticize their more liberal fellow believers who are doing this work already. Could that be the shrill voice of condemnation coming from the guilty and those who have become hardened in heart toward their fellow-man?
- Church leaders and public advocates should confess to fraudulent representation of their motivation when issuing a call to their loyal followers to support a cause. Conservative Christian leaders should fully disclose their vested interest in supporting the views of political conservatives. Any potential conflict of interest must be stated when speaking out on social justice, government fiscal restraint, global climate change, war against Muslim countries, and numerous business-friendly initiatives that benefit their benefactors. Advocacy of any politically motivated cause should be identified as such when coming from the pulpit, lectern, or blog.
Other issues may be added as they come to mind…
Yet these same issues can be found throughout the history of Christianity and many other religions, so none of this is really news. But we still owe it to our Lord and Savior to take his commands seriously and institutionalize their practice.
Once again, I have to admit that this post is as much a personal confession as an indictment of anyone else. This list is now the log in my eye, so I know that I must take these matters to heart and become an example myself. May God help me to do so.