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Bring your Bibles, but don’t bring your problems?

October 8, 2009

dmax_5386sepia3There is a cancer happening in churches across the country today and it has to do with morality– the same disease that controlled the Pharisees and teachers of the law in Jesus’ time.

It’s the idea that you have to “do” this or do that to be accepted by God. It’s the idea that you must go to church, but don’t you dare say anything that could ever show that you’re not a “good” Christian or that you aren’t following all the rules. And problems? Oh no, don’t bring those. Those don’t exist.

Well it’s a crazy thing, isn’t it? And it’s far from the true gospel. It causes people to never want to step foot in the church again. I’ve seen it happen.

The truth is that Jesus came to heal us of our problems. He didn’t ask us to clean up before hand. He never asked the church to put on their pretty faces and hide their issues with lust, greed, adultery, murder, or jealousy from each other. He said to confess them so that they could be healed and find life again (James 5:16).

He asks us to bring our sin to him.

The Pharisees and teachers of the law were so blinded by their good works that they couldn’t see their hypocrisy. Jesus said to them, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to” (Matt. 23:13).

The Pharisees had it so wrong that people were kept from entering the kingdom of God. A lot of us have it wrong today, including myself at times. Morality is not our motive.

The gospel is. The cross is our motive. It’s about broken people receiving the free, unmerited gift of salvation- not because of anything good we have done.

As I grow in my faith, I’m reminded to be careful of those who preach a message of morality alone- that there is something I can do to earn favor with God. (This isn’t to say that when I grow closer to Him, I won’t want to “do” those things.) But my motive isn’t for morality’s sake alone, but to embrace Christ for all that he is and to let him do the changing he needs to do in my areas of brokenness.

Have you ever felt like you could bring your Bible to church, but not your problems? Do you think the typical church today is missing the true gospel?

photo by: Janice Dunn

6 Comments leave one →
  1. October 11, 2009 11:12 am

    Lovely picture, Samantha. Well done post.

  2. October 11, 2009 2:23 pm

    I just read your article over on Ungrind and really enjoyed it. I too, can hide behind pride, although I’ve grown in this area in recent years. Thanks for a beautiful article!

  3. October 12, 2009 12:57 pm

    Thank you Kimmi!

    Thanks for the encouragement Danielle. I am really glad you got to read it and enjoyed it.

    I just checked out your site, Dancing By the Light, and I love it. I’ll be checking it out more often. 🙂

  4. October 12, 2009 7:36 pm

    Thanks for stopping by and adding me to your blogroll! I hope to read more of your work on Ungrind in the future!

  5. October 12, 2009 9:59 pm

    No problem. Yes, I hope to find more time to contribute in the future. I will be looking out for your work as well!

  6. October 26, 2009 11:05 am

    I absolutely see this happening a lot. It seems that churches forget that when people come to Christ they still have a great deal of emotional, spiritual and physical baggage that they bring with them. In Romans 7, Paul honestly confesses this daily struggle of dying to ourselves, choosing to live out of our new hearts in Christ rather than walking according to the flesh. By encouraging people to “get their acts together” prematurely, the church often causes people to simply trade their visible sins for ones that are easier to hide, and often much more difficult to overcome. New Christian men may stop coarse joking, using profanity, and premarital sex, but their daily battle over lust is never addressed so they fall into pornography addiction. New Christian women may learn to stop talking about other coworkers behind their backs, all the while learning that it is acceptable to talk about the plights of fellow church members through a gossip network cleverly disguised as a prayer chain.

    Not to mention the countless victims of abuse, emotionally absent upbringings, and those whose lives have been destroyed by addiction or mental illness. The church would simply help these people act “normal,” a false concept that has more to do with suburban domestication than Christ-centered sanctification.

    Your final question hits the nail on the head: “Do you think the typical church today is missing the true gospel?” Absolutely. The subliminal message being sent is: clean up your act before stepping foot in a church. But as you rightly pointed out, the gospel is “about broken people receiving the free, unmerited gift of salvation- not because of anything good we have done,” but because of what Christ accomplished on the cross.

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