We followers are surely not influencing our culture as much as Jesus had in mind. Personally, friends know that God and I have a thing going on because in groups they always ask me to say grace. Yet, friends aren’t flocking to my doorstep begging to get to know my God better. Partly, that may have to do with my character flaws. I think some of it has to do with Christianity’s reputation. Followers can always do more service by loving others as they want to be loved. But, followers can’t even love other followers where people want to be part of such a gathering.
First, an excuse and then I will suggest what may be one main reason we are not making the impact Jesus envisioned when on the earth. The truth is many don’t pursue a relationship with God because of spiritual apathy. The resurrection of Jesus can be defended based on reliable historical evidence, but amazingly not everyone cares to investigate further the implications of this miraculous event. Both earthly and spiritual matters are worthy of discussion but many don’t care to talk about spiritual matters, even if not being coerced to believe a certain way.
Enough excuses! There are many reasons us followers as a group are so unattractive but I am convinced there may be one main reason. I am not hopeful things will change but a man can dream. Most people desire to have close, intimate relationships with their family and friends. But, the truth is we Christians have nothing to offer. Jesus did not come to make hundreds of denominations. Jesus came to plant the church. Jesus didn’t teach hundreds of conflicting beliefs. Jesus had one set of beliefs. A church’s statement of core beliefs could read “whatever the Bible says.”
This leads us to the problem though. Non-followers witness how we fight about what the Bible teaches. Christians seldom agree to disagree. Interpretations are fallible but we insist on our views at the expense of relationships. The Bible was written in foreign languages thousands of years ago. The Bible is not a single text with a single author. What good is Christian love if we can’t consider one another’s opinion gracefully, so to work out our own convictions with as much consistency as possible. We act like couples headed to divorce because we think our way or the highway, despite the issue not being moral in nature. Jesus didn’t come to give us a set of core doctrines. We have made theology than love what Jesus was about.
We might be better off doing away with churches, so we can’t gather to come up with beliefs that scare off some followers much less those who are skeptical in the first place. Don’t churches really just swap followers? We get weary of our church so we go to another church because the music is louder or the preacher is less boring, etc. Jesus could probably survive without what we call church these days. In the NT the church wasn’t a building but bodies. I must admit though that when in a dark alley I am less scared when I know the folks are coming from church.
Christians are unattractive because of our views and lack of open-mindedness. Our theology must not make it difficult for people to turn to God by misrepresenting God’s character. Must we insist that the Bible teaches husbands have authority over their wives or that God prefers men over women as leaders? Is there really a difference between strains of other religions that proscribe gender roles if Christianity does the same thing, albeit with a different set of prohibitions? Our discussions must allow each person to come to their understanding of God if they are seeking. Trust God to work in the heart of His individual children. What if we did away with denominations and just called ourselves a gathering of God followers? What if our discussions about what God is really like were civil and lead to agreeing to disagree but then leaving hand in hand to love others like they want to be loved?