Be sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame- 1st Corinthians 15:34 NASB
The biggest threats to the Church right now are not oppression and persecution.
Historically persecution and oppression has actually caused the church to grow and become more effective. No healthy, sane Christian wants to be persecuted. Persecution sucks. That said, it’s tough to argue that persecution can not have a positive impact Christians and the growth of the church (Acts 8:1).
Here’s the thing:
Contrary to popular belief our biggest problems are not coming from a corrupt government, or ungodly influences or even the devil. Christianity’s biggest problems are all coming from within Christianity. Those are all real problems but they are not the biggest problems. The biggest problems are all coming from within Christianity.
Following are four of the most damaging:
Christians who refuse to acknowledge the danger of false teachers-
There are a lot of Christians, including some leaders who blithely quote Matthew 16:18 anytime they are confronted with false teaching, sinful leaders or any other problem that is clearly creating moral and spiritual chaos in lives of Christians. It is true Jesus promised Peter Satan would never defeat the church. However, it is also true Jesus instructed Christians to be on guard against false prophets who would pass themselves off as Christians and lead many astray (Matthew 7:15). Paul warned elders in Ephesus that “ravenous wolves” (false teachers) would infiltrate the Church and destroy the faith of many (Acts 20:28-30). Jesus prophesied false teachers will rise up and deceive many in the last days (Matthew 24). Jesus and Paul were not chronic worriers with a penchant for overthinking. Therefore, they would not have given those warnings if they did not feel there was a clear and present danger to the Church. The Church will never be defeated. However, that doesn’t mean the church cannot lose its ability to effectively deliver spiritual truth for a season. When this happens, churches stop reaching the lost and everyone loses (Matthew 5:13-16, Revelation 2:5, Hebrews 6:4-8)
Christians who refuse to submit to the word of God-
There are some attitudes and behaviors that are so wrong if they become standard operating procedure in a person’s life they will keep that person out of heaven (Galatians 5:21). Seriously. It’s true. Those sins include, but are not limited to lying, adultery, covetousness, bitterness, all forms of sexual immorality, debauchery, witchcraft, fits of rage and selfish ambition (1st Corinthians 6:9-10, 1st Timothy 9-11, Revelation 21:8). There is a grassroots movement within churches that effectively seeks to minimize the importance of holiness and maximize the importance of “accepting people the way they are”. This has led many within the body of Christ to think they can be a Christian without actually submitting to God’s moral leadership in their lives. Christians who have not yielded every corner of their lives to God always end up fighting for the relaxation of biblical standards. These Christians are leading others astray with the false doctrines of easy believe-ism and cheap grace.
Christians who are quick to publicly judge other Christians for all the wrong things-
The last couple of years has exposed some real ugliness that exists in Church world. Some Christians have a seriously rebellious spirit (1st Samuel 15:23). Other Christians are so gripped with a spirit of fear they have been rendered useless for Kingdom work (Isaiah 41:10). Many believers clearly put more faith in government orders than they do in God (Proverbs 29:25). But by far, the worst is the judgment Christians display towards one another (John 13:34-35). Take the public mask war we endured for two solid years. Half of Christians called the other half “compromisers” and “bootlickers” for wearing a mask. The other half used some ugly and incredibly condemning words like “selfish”, “unloving” and “anti-science” to describe any Christian who did not cheerfully put on a mask or who dared to question the wisdom of wearing one. Furthermore, nearly every day I come across some stupid social media post where a Christian takes it upon themselves to apologize for all the unkindness of all the other Christians in the world. As if they somehow cornered the market on kindness and moral goodness. Strangely, enough, they never apologize for the prideful, self-aggrandizing tone of their post. Christians are called to love each other. It is biblical to confront a Christian on something that is clearly sinful. However, this should only be done after a time of intense prayer where you ask God to show you clearly if your perception of the situation is wrong in any way. If after you have humbly sought God’s correction and still feel the need to confront the issue it should be done privately and in accordance with Matthew 18:15-17.
Christians who foolishly kowtow to the culture–
Being a Christian and being liked by unsaved people can be mutually exclusive (Matthew 10:22, Matthew 24:9, Mark 13:13, John 15:18). Christians should never be needlessly unpleasant or mean. However, there are times when choosing to stick to biblical convictions causes non-Christians to become angry at us because biblical truth makes them feel uncomfortable. Many Christians are embracing organizations, ideas and moral standards that are antithetical to Christianity, because they are persuaded it will help them reach the lost. It won’t. It just muddies the message and leads people to believe they can become Christians without being transformed into the image of Christ. They can’t. Christians must stop fretting about being liked and instead focus on being like Jesus. Jesus loved people but He never compromised truth to reach them (Luke 3:6-8, Matthew 23, Mark 10:16-22, John 8:11)
The world we live in has never needed Jesus more than it does right now. In order for the Church to be the church Christians have to live holy lives, recognize that spiritual truth matters and stand together in love.