Country Club Christianity

What is the purpose of going to church?  If you ask someone, they will usually pull up a verse about “not forsaking the fellowship of the saints” or something similar.  Churches are a side effect of Christians getting organized.  If you and two friends are reading the Bible together, you are having fellowship with your brothers and sisters in Christ.

About ten years ago, I moved from Minnesota to South Carolina.  In the process of making that move, I was introduced to a radical concept: meeting more than once a week for church.  I had never been in a church that met more frequently than Sunday mornings.  However, while this can be a good thing, it is not universal.

A couple years ago, my wife and I looked for a new church.  This was, perhaps, the single most disheartening experience I’ve had in a long time.  We visited several denominations.  The churches we visited varied from the overtly misogynistic to the utterly boring.  We finally landed in a church that breathed some life in us.  It actually welcomed anybody, even those who looked like former bikers.  It was lively and refreshing.

We then found a good church (where we are now) that combines solid Biblical teaching with allowing the Holy Spirit to have His way.  If that sounds weird, we can work against the Spirit.

All of this sets the stage for last week’s murder of Dr. George Tiller.  I think his murder was a terrible thing, and I think the murders he performed on babies who could have survived outside their mothers’ wombs was equally horrible.  Murdering a murderer is still unjustified.  I’d have been happy to see him in jail.

The thing about Tiller’s murder that struck me, however, was its location.  Somehow, this man who performed the most unchristian act possible, was gunned down in a church.  No one seemed to think this was strange.  Jesus was very clear that we are to protect children, not ignore them and definitely not kill them.  Somehow this man, who was doing everything to get him excommunicated from every church in the nation, was a respected member of a church.

You may be wondering what all these things have in common.  It’s fairly simple.  There are a number of churches that have stopped worrying about what’s in the Bible and started worrying about making people like them.  I’ve visited a variety of churches that make no effort to confront people with their sins.  The result is a sort of “Country Club Christianity” that’s like a Kiwanis club meeting on Sunday mornings.  You pay your dues and get to feel good about yourself, then go on a be a jerk the other six days of the week.

Pastors, if you don’t want to confront your congregation about the sin in their lives, please do something useful, like sell used cars.  Jesus said the gospel would bring conflict.  Congregation members, if you are not there to learn about God, please stay home.  Read the book of James, it will talk a lot about things like treating the poor and rich the same, and how to deal with when tough times enter your life.

Church isn’t supposed to be about hanging out with buddies and looking good.  It’s about God.  God is about holiness.  If you are making a lie of your life by going to church, please change your life.  You’re missing out on blessings.  If you want a country club, join Kiwanis or golf.

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