The past few months I’ve been feeling more and more that there is something missing in the American Church. It seems there is so much emphasis on tolerance, love, and acceptance. I think these are great things to push, but at some point there needs to be balance. Actually, anyone that has heard me preach will tell you I think pretty much everything must be kept in perfect balance. Holiness is a must, but when it gets skewed it turns into legalism, which is not holy at all. The same is true for grace. Grace is the crux (pun intended) of all that we hold dear, but when it is out of balance it turns into rampant sin and permissiveness.
Right now I see that the Church has begun wandering into this camp. Historically it isn’t the first time. A study of Church history will show that the Church seems to swing from one extreme to another. At each end God sparks a massive revival that seems to set everything right. Every great revival seems to be rooted in bringing balance to Grace and Holiness.
When Christ walked the Earth 2000 years ago he was the perfect balance. In fact, he is still the balance, it is the cross (crux if you will) that sets grace and holiness into accord. It is interesting to note that holiness had been turned into legalism in the community he ministered to. That legalism is what nailed him to the cross as much as anything else. How weird is that? More than that though, it is grace that allowed him to be hung on that splintered frame; grace held him, not the nails.
So here we are, 2000 years later getting ready to celebrate the final week leading to Calvary. Our churches are so desperate to bring people in that they will overlook sin claiming grace.
I had a conversation with a fellow youth pastor last week. I expressed my frustration at the lack of accountability and confrontation in the Church today. To many afraid to speak truth in love. To few that know the difference between being judgmental and edifying a fellow brother or sister. Last Sunday I preached a message where I challenged the congregation to imagine a Church that finds this balance, that seeks to hold the same Standard that Christ lived. That is a pure and spotless Bride. That builds people up in love instead of leaving them in their sin or beating them down.
Have I mentioned that God has a sense of humor? This has been a trying week. I have had people confront me in some of the worst way, and I have had to deal with some very frustrating situations, even confronting others.
In Matthew chapter 7 Jesus tells us to deal with our own problems, then we will be able to help others with theirs. So many have twisted that to say you can’t tell others how to live. That is foolishness. He very clearly says “First remove the plank from your own eye so that you may then see clearly to help remove the spec from your brother’s eye.” We need to get help first, so that we can then help others.
Right now I’m tired and frustrated. I feel like God called me to do something, then had me follow through. It hasn’t been easy but I will say this.
I don’t know if I made all the right choices and did all the right things. I may have screwed up. I may have offended others. I am not perfect.
There, I said it. I’m not perfect.
That said, I am striving for it. I need grace and forgiveness from God and the people around me on my way, but I believe God will help keep me reaching toward the goal.
If I failed, I’m sorry. I really am. I can’t promise that I won’t ever fail again. I’m still trying to figure life out too.
Having said that, I still want to see this perfect picture of the Church. A place that knows Love means accountability and confrontation. Not to tear people down, but to build them up so they won’t keep destroying themselves.
Have you ever had to confront someone? Have you been confronted? Did it happen in love? How would you do it or change it to make things better? How can the Church follow the example of Christ as he walked with the worst of society, but left them changed for the best?