By S.C. Shaw
This is a three-part thought.
Part One: Sunday school shouldn’t last forever
Sunday school shouldn’t last forever. What do I mean? Our churches have settled in a realm of weak and shallow teaching/worship that is leaving our congregations in the infant stage of doctrine their entire life. At some point the Christian needs to eat solid food. But that will never happen if the church’s main objective is to make the non-believer feel as comfortable as possible. I’m not saying the church needs to be more exclusive, on the contrary, I believe we have done a terrible job at welcoming people that don’t look, live or believe like we do. But to try and make the church look like the world is the opposite of what we are to look like. We are to preach the Gospel without shame and without borders. A deep, rich and full Gospel. Helping the believer grow in the deep inexhaustible truths of the Bible and helping the non-believer see just how different the church is from the world. To help them see the difference of God and how He calls us to live.
I know that every Christian should be seeking God on their own, but that won’t happen because the Sunday morning service isn’t giving them reason to. Sure, you’ve got small groups and bible studies mid-week, but none of that helps when everybody in swimming in the kitty pool of faith. Before the naysayers come out and say that I am making a big deal for no reason, we must understand the importance of both big and little ideas and doctrines of the Bible. When you get foundational truth wrong, or just plain weak, then you have no footing or answers for people who are seeking them. Non-believers ask great questions, and I rarely hear sufficient answers given. Not that I have all the answers but know weak or wrong ones when I hear them. They are either incomplete, or aggressively given and false. Why? Because we learn just enough about God and the Bible and then stop learning. It’s as if we think we’ve heard it all and now no one can challenge us because “I already know”. And if anyone makes you think, it’s time to argue. I am speaking from experience here. I lived this “Christian” life for most of my life and I am sick of seeing it. When I started asking questions, listening to people with different thoughts, beliefs and doctrines than I, I began to understand and fill in the gaps of my Sunday morning teachings. Because the church isn’t teaching more than, “God loves you and try not to sin as much because God loves you.” Read more about God’s love here.
I teach the Gospel to people in all walks of life. Some who come to my groups completely opposed to the Bible and I am able to get through to them. This isn’t me patting myself on the back. This is me saying “Hallelujah, for giving me the desire to learn and the platform to talk to unbelievers in a way that they listen.” I used to get aggressive when I spoke about God. It’s now that I realize why. I knew a lot, but not enough to feel confident. I thought I was confident until challenged. It’s the common tale. The arrogant are usually the most insecure. As if speaking loudly or aggressively means you know what you’re talking about.
Now as I continue to learn, I can hear every side of people’s story and beliefs and know what the whole Bible actually says, as to not be wavered from my faith but able to give answers to those believing in lesser gods. Pointing them to Christ.
Part Two: There’s no safety for the unbeliever
So, we have infant believers allowing an unrepentant heart to feel secure in God’s love when they are far from it. To cater our church gathering to the non-believer is dangerous and unbiblical. The gathered body of believers is called the church. We gather to sing, pray, serve and learn the deeper truths and be encouraged and corrected by them. Encouraged to live more like Christ and die to ourselves is a goal the unrepentant heart can’t fathom. But it’s not our job to change hearts. That’s the Holy Spirit’s job. But we are still failing at our job. We are trying to reach the world when our own sanctification is failing. Sharing a Gospel that goes deeper than “Try to not sin as much so that you and God can feel happier with your effort” is not appropriate. In fact, it is detestable considering the true Gospel message. But when left to a preacher and a people that only go as deep as this message, how can we demand more? However, we are in control of our actions.
With both parts in mind, we can see how it is a constant circle or problems. How can it ever change in this light? It takes you and me to get behind our church and strengthen it from within. Like it or not, we are called to be part of a local church. Yelling from the outside only stands to be a stumbling block to every onlooker. However, a beloved church servant has the potential to make changes. And if not, we are an influence on more people than we know. We do this for God anyways and He’s always watching. He knows your heart and will bless you for pursuing Him. He will give you a platform to point people to Christ. You just need to build the platform.
Part Three: Only growing in your warm fuzzy feelings
For those who are reading this and thinking, “But I’m in my Bible every day, reading devotionals and praying.” I say, great! But what’s your motive? Are you trying to learn or simply be encouraged in your faith? Are you approaching the Bible ready for the Holy spirit to speak to you, or do you have your “me” glasses on? Hear me correctly, we need to be growing in our own personal relationship with Christ. But who do you think that is for? Is it for you to feel good about yourself? Once you are a child of God, nothing’s going to change that. We grow in our faith to then share our faith. And not just your personal testimony, even though that is very important. We are called to have answers for those seeking. Both believers and unbelievers are seeking answers. The people put in your life by God are going to be wondering why you have a light and joy about you they can’t understand. The richness of Christ will be a forever journey. Let’s start it now in hopes to bless others and reap the rewards here as well as in the life to come. God has given us a good work to do, let’s get busy.
Please don’t let my word be the final word on this. Pick up the Bible, read Gospel-saturated books by good authors, read good commentaries on the Bible, pick up Wayne Grudem’s and Louis Berkhof’s “Systematic Theology”, read the 1689 London Baptist confession of faith and learn from a man’s lifetime of study and meditation on the Word of God. Most of all, trust in Jesus Christ and know what He has given us is whole, perfect and is for our good and His glory. Love you all!