What is the use of a lamp-stand if there is no light to shine from it?
In the book of Revelation, the churches are referred to somewhere as lamp-stands, and it got me thinking … Do our churches in this day and age lift up Christ high and shine a light for miles in every direction?
Or are they glorified, but empty, lamp-stands; taking in ideas and thoughts, but not spreading the Message outward into the world?
I’ve heard some Christian speakers say: “The Church in America is more influenced by the Culture than the Culture is by the Church.”
That’s why we have Christian couples living together before marriage, and no one calls them out. That’s why pornography is rampant among Christian men. That’s why you hear so many Christians saying, “Well … I don’t know if the homosexual lifestyle is really a sin. The Bible doesn’t say anything about it …”. That’s why divorce is widely accepted in Christian circles and the Bible verses condemning it ignored. That’s why we have Christian women dressing in very sensual and provocative ways. That’s why we have Christians doling out verbal or emotional abuse and thinking nothing of it. That’s why we have Christians spewing out foul language, idolizing ungodly celebrities, getting drunk, speaking hatefully, and just generally living self-consumed, materialistic, entertainment-crammed lives.
I can’t help but wonder if we’ve gotten church wrong, and that’s why we find ourselves where we are today.
2 Timothy 4:2-5
2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. 5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
Maybe church is less about checking a box, and more about doing life with fellow believers who are passionate about Christ.
Maybe church is less about numbers, and more about close relationships within the Body.
12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
See, we have these huge churches and are constantly pulling people in. We call people to the altar, but offer no discipleship. And soon, our church building is packed full of people we know nothing about. Are they living Christ-like lives? Is there a habitual sin that needs to be addressed in someone’s life? Is someone suffering abuse at the hands of a faithful church-goer? Is someone drowning in anxiety and depression, but just pastes on a smile every Sunday? Are half of our members even Christians at all?
We don’t know.
There is no longer deep fellowship in many churches today. There is no keeping people accountable. There is no meeting the church people’s needs together. There is no discipleship and spurring one another on toward good deeds in their personal, day-to-day life.
19 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and having a High Priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
I think we’ve lost the ministry of calling people out, rebuking, and reconciliation. We’ve lost personal, deep, hard, beautiful relationships with our fellow church-goers. And this is a deep loss, indeed.
20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”
Church has become more about great music and an inspirational, 45-minute sermon. And then you slip out of the building and back into your life without anyone any the wiser about you, your presence, your life, your pain, your confusion, your sin. Anything.
As a result, we have Christian singles, couples, and families who are isolated and deeply struggling.
And we have churches watering down the gospel and adopting unBiblical doctrine, either because they think Truth is too radical and not bringing enough people in, or the church is already filled with a bunch of half-hearted Christians who don’t know their Bible and, ultimately, aren’t submitting to Jesus Christ as Lord.
22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
Many churches aren’t teaching their members what it means to follow Christ. Not really. They aren’t teaching people to live a passionate, set-apart life out of an unashamed love for Christ Jesus. They aren’t teaching people to have a deep, committed love for each other, the bride of their beloved Lord.
34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
What can we do to change?
We need to get serious about fellowship and community. We need to sincerely seek God, as individuals, and then share what He’s teaching us with others. We need to ruthlessly kill sin, and relentlessly pursue love. We need to pray for our pastors, Sunday school leaders, and Bible study teachers. We need to challenge and encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ to live in response to a higher Calling. We need to get involved in churches and live boldly for Christ within them. We need young men to rise up and become bold but compassionate shepherds who are passionate about leading a church full of people closer to God and each other.
11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
So, please, join the conversation. What do you think the is the Biblical mold for churches? How could we do better to unify and work together as the Body of Christ? To love Him. To love each other. To love unbelievers.
What can we do to shine a light, like from within a tall lamp-stand, to illuminate the world for the glory of Christ?
42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.
46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.