Monday, October 29, 2012

Changing The Culture Of The Church

Today I am responding to my blog from yesterday. I wrote about the need to be honest with our God about the secret sins we tuck away. We need to develop a healthy attitude toward confession and repentance. It is the only manner in which to rob sin of it's hold over us; to bring it out of the darkness and expose it to the light of God. Sin no longer has authority over us, unless we give it authority. But for this attitude of confession and forgiveness to happen things have to change in the North American Church.

What would happen in your church if a leader confessed they had fallen? Would they be removed from their responsibility? Perhaps told to leave the church? Would everyone look at them differently? Would they be thought less of? Probably some if not all of the above, right?

Perhaps in your church it depends on the sin. For some reason we have categories of sin, as if some are worse than others. Jesus said all but one sin is forgiven, even blasphemy against him. The only sin that is not forgiven is the sin against the Spirit which is the rejection of the Spirit's conviction of salvation. Does this not mean that our churches should be centers of forgiveness? Should we not have a natural culture of forgiveness? Should our churches not be centers of restoration and recovery?

Why would anyone want to risk dragging their sin out into the light of God's love when the Church is ready to crucify anyone with any signs of imperfection? We have seen it time and again when pastors have been forced to keep their sins hidden, giving authority to that sin over their life, dragging them even deeper into it's ugliness. Imagine how quick the recovery would have been if they were able to confess that fall at the beginning so that healing and restoration could happen quickly.

The only sin that should be dealt with harshly is the sin held by an unrepentant heart. When sin is discovered and the one responsible refuses to acknowledge it, refuses to repent of it, refuses to humble himself before God, it must be dealt with harshly for the sake of the one who smells of death. The elders have the responsibility of trying to restore this lost soul, but if that person refuses then they have no choice but to remove that person, as hard as it may be. But this is the exception and not the rule.

Sin is devastating and if we give it authority then it can be powerful. It's greatest power is found in our fear of being exposed. But God knows our weakness. He already knows us. It is not like we are exposing ourself to God but instead we are exposing the sin so we can see it compared to God's glory. As we expose it we discover it for what it is. It is not as sweet as it seemed in the dark. In fact we realize how wretched, ugly and pathetic it is when exposed to the light. We want churches that make it easy for people to do this, in a culture of love and forgiveness.

Bullies pick on those whose weaknesses are exposed in order to keep attention off of their own weaknesses. The Church is full of bullies who would rather live a pretend life, looking down their noses at the honest sinner who only wants to have a real relationship with Jesus. These people were known as Pharisees in Jesus' day and the Church is full of them today. Repent you Pharisees and you too can find freedom in your confession. Bring it into the light. Let it be exposed.

For the sake of us all, the current culture of the North American Church must be changed so that forgiveness and love flow for everyone, regardless of their position. We have to stop acting so pious.  We are all just one decision away from sinning. Without Jesus we are all weak and pathetic. We all face the same dangers. Understand then that God will judge what secret things remain hidden in the dark places of our heart so let us make sure that everyone feels welcomed and encouraged to expose every inch of it to the light of God. Forgive as you have been forgiven.

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