Church - alive and well and getting on with the job
"Why", a minister asked me a week or so back,
"has the church been sidelined?" To which I was only too quick to
reply that the church had sidelined itself. I had long held the view, I said,
that the churches had become irrelevant because they had allowed themselves to
be corrupted by new age secular humanism and political correctness.
They had, I insisted, by trying to be all things to all men
so compromised themselves that they no longer knew what they believed let alone
They had tried to hang on to their members and keep the funds
flowing in by watering down the gospel message so it more comfortably sat with
modern worldly beliefs and didn't offend anyone.
But the result was the opposite. Churchgoers voted with their
feet and walked out in their thousands. And that was because people had gone to
church to be told what was true and what was lies, what was right and what was
wrong, what was good and what was evil - in short, what was sin and what was
They had gone to hear that Satan was roaming the world like a
ravening lion seeking to consume whom he would; but that God through Jesus
Christ was alive and ever ready to extend salvation to the repentant sinner and
to hold out the promise of eternal life.
That was not to say that all those who heard that message
were likely to obey. But at least they knew there were limits on human behaviour
and that if you went beyond them and got caught there was a penalty to pay.
They kept going back to church week in and week out because
they wanted to hear that message repeated over and over again to give them a
focus and a sense of security in a world more and more rapidly becoming insecure
and unfathomable economically, morally, politically and socially.
Particularly was this so of children who in Sunday Schools
throughout the country heard the simple Christian message of be good for Jesus
sake, obey mum and dad and the teacher, be kind to others and try to live by the
Many a child went to Sunday School whose parents were never
seen. But that was okay by the church folk, who knew that the kids had been sent
so mum and dad could have a bit of time to themselves on a Sunday morning.
They didn't mind for they were devotees of the proverb:
"Train a child in the way he should go and he will not depart from
But when the ministers and priests and pastors stood by and
watched while the entire moral fabric of this nation was systematically rent,
and began to eschew the black and white message of the gospels in favour of the
grey philosophies so beloved of the secular humanist and situational ethicist,
there was no reason to go to church any more.
But wait. Since I was asked the question I have thought about
it a lot and have concluded that while some churches have been sidelined the
real Church - that body of born again, Spirit-filled believers who can be found
in every denomination - is today stronger than it has ever been in this country
and is going about the Lord's work with commitment and vigour.
I am persuaded that if this were not so, our country would be
in much direr straits than it is; that the salt and light being spread in all
walks of life by committed Christians is slowing down the putrefaction and
holding back the darkness to which the powers of evil would condemn us.
Many of them have taken to heart Jesus' words to his
disciples: "Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves. Be ye
therefore as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves."
They know that the battle is "not against flesh and
blood but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the
darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places".
So they beaver away quietly doing their best to show Christ's
love by living exemplary lives rather than by talking about their faith -
"walking the talk" as modern idiom has it - and spend hours in prayer
on behalf of others.
They are not just to be found in the obvious places - the
high-profile Christian charities, agencies and missions - but in schools,
hospitals, welfare agencies, the armed forces, the police, prisons, the courts,
national and local government politics and bureaucracies, sporting
organisations, every trade and service and in all manner of businesses.
And on Sundays many of them will be in their churches,
recharging their batteries with praise and worship. They will be more numerous
than all the spectators at all the sporting events in the country on any
So to my minister friend I now say this: Take heart. The
Church has not been sidelined. It is alive, it is vital, it is carrying out the
great commission and it cannot fail.
Jesus said: "I say unto thee that thou art Peter, and
upon this rock I will build my Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail
I can't put it plainer than that.
(NZ Herald -– used by permission)