The Lewis and Clark Expedition began in 1804, when President Thomas Jefferson tasked Meriwether Lewis with exploring lands west of the Mississippi River that comprised the Louisiana Purchase. Their mission was to explore the unknown territory, establish trade with the Natives and affirm the sovereignty of the United States in the region. One of their goals was to find a waterway from the central US to the Pacific Ocean.
The excursion lasted over two years: Along the way they confronted harsh weather, unforgiving terrain, treacherous waters, injuries, starvation, disease and both friendly and hostile Native Americans. Nevertheless, the approximately 8,000-mile journey was deemed a huge success and provided new geographic, ecological and social information about previously uncharted areas of North America.
But they almost didn’t make it. They started their expedition in St. Louis and paddled, dragged, and lugged their canoes upstream fighting the current the entire way. In their minds, they thought they would struggle up to the head of the Missouri river and then they would find a new river that would carry them downstream all the way to the Pacific Ocean. When they got to the head of the Missouri they came face to face with something they did not expect. The Indians had told them there would be mountains and in their minds the mountains were like the hills of the Carolinas, instead they would be staring at the Rocky Mountains.
When they reached the mountains, Lewis and Clark had to make a decision. Would they turn back and plan for another expedition some day in the future or would they press ahead. Going back would be easier. They could float down the Missouri this time and they had mapped it out. If they pressed ahead they would be going off the map into the unknown.
The decision was an easy for Lewis and Clark because they had been tasked by President Jefferson to find a water route to the Pacific Ocean and that is exactly what they were going to do. They ditched their canoes and prepared to climb across the Rockies. It was a monumental shift.
Right now, you may be at a crossroads. COVID19 hit the world in the face and nobody understood just how much it would impact and change society. Now is the time to move into new territory. You will have to take risks that you have not taken before. You will have to look at how you do what you do differently. You will need to assess and reassess your current reality. You are going to have to go off the map.
For parents this means your kids might not go back to play all the sports they did. It might also open up opportunities for more family time due to changing work schedules. For youth it means you have more new opportunities to learn and grow in front of you than ever.
When Lewis and Clark made the decision to ditch their canoes, they let go of what was familiar to them and never looked back.
And for you, embrace the new opportunity you have. Maybe now is the time to search for a better career or a less stretched schedule. Ditch the canoes, you are not drifting back to where you were.
The Lewis and Clark expedition lasted from May 1804 until September 1806. Lewis and Clark failed to find a waterway from the Mississippi to the Pacific, but succeeded in documenting more than 100 new animals and 178 plants, as well as providing 140 maps of the region. It’s time for you to let go of what was and embrace the unknown and uncharted future. The bible says: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
It seems like racism tension erupt with every generation. In 1955 Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to white people on a bus in Montgomery Alabama. Consequentially she was arrested, and this led to the largest bus boycott in American history. The black community’s bus boycott marked one of the largest and most successful large-scale movements against racial segregation.
In the 1990’s Rodney King was pulled out of his car in L.A. by police who beat him mercilessly and it was all caught on camera. After the three officers were acquitted, the 1992 LA riots took place. Similar events took place after the death of George Floyd last year. Ahmaud Arbury was murdered by three white men who chased him down as he was out jogging in his South Georgia neighborhood. These are only the high-profile racial cases that made the news. Racial tension isn’t just a white on black or black on white issue. Racial tension exists between people of every color and ethnicity. This is not just an American issue either.
Racism is not feeling uncomfortable with people who don’t look like you, speak like you, or act like you. You are not a racist if you inquire about ones’ ethnicity or ask them questions related to their culture. You are not a racist if you don’t know what to say to a person of another ethnicity. You are not a racist if you don’t like Chinese food or Mexican food or spaghetti. You are not a racist if you avoid dangerous neighborhoods. You are not a racist for being proud of your ethnicity.
Racism is defined as prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior. Racism results in hatred, fear, and inhumane treatment toward someone because of the nation they’re from or the color of their skin.
Egyptians, Israelites, Romans, Greeks, Arabs, and Gentiles are all ethnicities mentioned in the bible. Back in biblical times, most ethnicities hated each other. Then came Jesus. Jesus came to seek and save the lost regardless of their social status, skin color, or position. Jesus was most likely around five feet tall with dark skin, dark hair, and brown eyes. He didn’t hold any political office or even have a house of his own. He moved from place to place teaching the Word of God.
The Samaritans were a mixed breed of Jews and pagan foreigners who created a religion for themselves that the Jews considered heresy. To the Jews, a Samaritan was more revolting than a Gentile. That is what makes the parable of the Good Samaritan so powerful. The parable is recorded in Luke 10:30-37. As the parable goes, two men pass a wounded Jewish man who has been beaten by robbers. They do not stop to help. Then a Samaritan man sees the wounded Jewish man and helps him. The Samaritan, who Jews never saw as the hero of any story, was the hero. He stopped to help the injured Jewish man and even paid for his care. Not only was Jesus teaching the significance of helping others, the greater point is that racism is wrong.
What will it take for racism to fade into history? It will take the perfect love of Christ lived out daily in your life. Check your heart for racism and demonstrate the love of Christ always. If you believe that all people are created in the image of God, then treat them with the love of God. You be the Good Samaritan. The Apostle John writes; “And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.” 1 John 3:23
Hate is not an option for Christians. Don’t just talk about loving others, show it. Live it out. Not just with your people group, but with others you are yet to know.
Every spring after the snow melts an ugly roadside scene emerges. All of the discarded trash and debris tossed and lost from automobiles and trucks over the winter is exposed on the ground. This litter makes scenic roads, well, less scenic. And until someone stepped up to do something about it, the trash just kept piling up. Everyone saw the problem, but nobody was doing anything to fix it. Then came James Evans.
In the 1980’s James Evans worked as an engineer for the Texas Department of Transportation. One day he noticed debris flying out of a pickup truck bed. The flying trash sparked a crazy idea. Evans invited a local group to “adopt” a section of road that they would keep clean. The Texas Department of Transportation would pay for the bagged trash to be hauled away on a quarterly basis. Unfortunately, his efforts were short lived and the concept died. A short while later Public Information Officer for TxDOT’s Tyler District, Billy Black, became involved. He built upon Evans idea working hard to make it a reality. Billy came up with the idea of erecting “Adopt-a-Highway” roadside signs that recognize the volunteers and organizations who do the clean-up. Black provided volunteer safety training, reflective vests, equipment, and the concept took off. Within just a few months, more than 50 groups in the region surrounding Tyler, Texas had joined the new program. It quickly spread to 49 other states, Puerto Rico, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and Japan. Today there are over 90,000 groups participating in the program.
What would happen if Christians decided to get involved in cleaning up their communities? I am not talking about just sacking roadside trash, but actually cleaning up their communities by caring for the poor, hungry, homeless, and widowed. What if Christians got involved in creating mental health solutions or assisting the addicted. What would happen if Christians got involved in politics and started supporting Christian values, morals, and ethics? What would happen if Christians stopped complaining about at all the problems in the neighborhood and started helping their neighbors one by one? What would happen if Christians began to care about their neighbors and loved them like Christ does? What would happen if more Christians served on the school board, with the PTO, and voted for people who actually want to make society better? I believe that everybody would win and society would be a more beautiful place. Christ’s love would be shown, people would find hope, families would be strengthened, and lives would be changed. We would have less suicide, depression, and isolation. We would have more community, love, and understanding.
I am convinced that there is no better time than now for Christians to step up and help make a difference. For all practical purposes, our world is not getting any better. According to most polls, people feel more hopeless and helpless now than they did 10 years ago. We need to step up and step up in a big way. Jesus never tells believers to sit on the sidelines and just pray for someone else to do something. Jesus tells believers to let their light shine and to make a difference. How are you making a difference? God doesn’t expect you to fix everything wrong in the world, but he does expect you to adopt a piece of it and let the Holy Spirit work through you to clean it up. You can help and when you do, you will help make this world a better place.
Prayer is more than talking to God and asking him to provide this and that; prayer involves listening to what God is telling you. I have never heard God speak audibly to me, so when he speaks to me it is always a tug on my heart, peace in a decision with my decision, or a prompting to take action.
Christians are called to be people of faith. That means they believe an answer is coming even when one can’t see it yet. Conversely, if you are not searching for the will of God, you won’t be able to know and follow the will of God. Here are three thoughts to consider when you are trying to understand what God is saying.
1. Do I feel God leading me to proceed, stop, or wait? God is always at work around you so expect Him to provide you with an answer. Just because you don’t have clarity now it doesn’t mean you won’t have clarity later. Trust the gentle leading of the Holy Spirit to lead you and guide you to the place God wants you to be or help you make the decision you need to make. A good indicator that you are following the will of God is when you pray about it and God gives you peace about what to do next. God’s peace will rest on the right answer.
2. Do I feel God leading me to do or view something different? When you seek God and listen to him for the answer, you need to be open to another option if the option you really want doesn’t happen. Maybe God wants to do something different. It’s amazing what you will see if you pay attention to what is happening around you. I call it the third option. There is always a third option and usually the other options have to close before God reveals it. It might be a new solution, a change in circumstances, or even access to new resources you didn’t have when you started seeking God’s will.
Luke recorded a situation Paul was having in Acts 16:6-10. The Apostle Paul longed for God to open a door for him to travel to the east to preach the Gospel, but God never let him go there. Instead God had a different place in mind. One night Paul had a dream about a man in Europe calling out to him to come and preach there, so he went and his trip produced results.
3. Do I feel God doing a work in my heart? When I pray God moves my heart. He wants me to learn patience or grace or forgiveness. When God seems silent, reflect on your own life and see if God wants to change you. God might be doing a work in your life to be more generous with your finances and time. On more than one occasion I felt led to give financially to a project after praying about it. That is God doing a work in your heart and you know when he is. You can feel it. Don’t dismiss the tug of God on your heart. When you ignore the tug on your heart is leads to regret. And if you dismiss the tug enough, eventually you won’t even feel it and that is a bad place to be.
King David was a man with a checkered past. He was a bad father, sent people into battle knowing they would die, and committed adultery. Yet in spite of all his weaknesses, he loved God with his whole heart and sought the will of God. In Psalm 66 David writes:
“You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.” Psalm 63:1-2
God is constantly speaking, you need to listen for his small voice leading you. Pray, then listen. Talk to God about anything and everything and when you ask him for an answer, listen for it. He will provide an answer.
The hardest person in the world to manage is you, and you are the only one who can do it. You are the only one who can manage your emotions, spiritual life, and relationships. Nobody else can do it for you. Just like no one else can’t work out for you or eat for you; you can’t have someone else manage you. You can hire a coach, ask for help, or find a mentor, but ultimately only you can manage you.
Here is a little formula that works:
Intention + Action = Outcome.
You can have all the good intentions in the world but unless you act on those intentions nothing is going to happen. Last fall I intended to lose 10 pounds but didn’t change my eating habits. So, now I weight the same.
That formula applies to most things and it certainly applies to your spiritual life. Spiritual growth happens by intention. If you intend to grow spiritually, you need to take action. You can’t outsource or delegate your own spiritual growth. Only you can commit to spiritual growth.
If you don’t commit to it, you won’t grow. We become what we are committed to. Jesus says: “Come follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” Matthew 4:19.
Spiritual growth is a gradual process that takes place over time. The key is to stay connected to Christ. In John 15, Jesus uses a fruit tree as an example of how to grow. He says, “stay connected to me”.
“5I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5
The biblical term for spiritual growth is sanctification. Sanctification is the process of continually giving your fleshly desires over to God so that the Holy Spirit will be able to make you more Christ like.
For example, as you give your anger to God, there is room for God’s peace to fill that space that anger used to occupy. God cannot fill what he cannot have. Give that space of anger over to God so he can fill it with peace and love.
If you struggle with lust, fill that space with prayer. Pray that your husband or wife will meet your needs, and you theirs. If you are single, pray that God will provide you the right person if you desire to get married or remarried.
The Japanese use the word kaison which means “a little bit better every day”. If you get just a little better every day you will be continually improving. They applied the concept of kaison to car making and that is why Japan makes some of the best cars in the world. Back in the late 60’s nobody would buy a Japanese car because their quality was so poor. Then they started practicing kaison. By the 80’s, while American made cars were only going 100,000 miles, Japanese cars started lasting over 200,000. Now we expect cars to last well over 200,000 miles all because the Japanese committed to building better cars.
The same principle applies to spiritual growth, but instead of kaison the bible calls it sanctification. Growing closer to Christ day by day, as you choose to stay connect to Him day by day.
It takes time for your life to change, and it will if you are intentional and committed. If your spiritual life is the same now as it was two years ago, you need to ask yourself: “Am I growing spiritually?” If not, you need to figure out why not. Only you can manage you. There is no better time than right now to start strengthening your spiritual life. It will help you in every other area of your life.
I have decided to get the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to me. Jesus tells believers to love their neighbors, and this is just one small way I can do that. There are dozens of theories out there that debunk the vaccine or depict it as some form of governmental control. A few blogs I have read even declare that the vaccine will change your DNA. In my opinion, there will always be conspiracy theories. You may not agree with me, you have the right to your own opinion, but I also have the right to mine. I am not for forcing the vaccine on anyone, but I do plan on being vaccinated.
Back in the 1950’s polio was ripping through the country. In 1952 the US saw the worst polio outbreak. The disease affected some 58,000 people, killing more than 3,000 and paralyzing 21,000, most of whom were children. Parents were concerned about their children fearing their kids would wind up in an “iron lung,” a device that enabled a person to breath but literally robbed them of living. Thousands of people ended up in wheelchairs, hospitals, and even died. People stopped using public pools and were afraid to spend much time in public. When Dr. Salk’s vaccine was proven effective in 1954 the biggest fear people had was that there would not be enough vaccine for their kids. By 1962 the number of new polio cases in the U.S. had dropped to less than 1,000. By the year 2000 polio was virtually extinct in the U.S. and rare worldwide. I am sure that even in the 1950’s there were conspiracy theories surrounding the vaccine, yet it worked and society is better because of it.
The reason I will be getting the vaccine is simple, I don’t want to get COVID-19 again and I don’t want to potentially unwittingly infect others. I also despise wearing a mask and am irritated by all the social distancing stuff. We were made to be connected in community and social distancing has profound psychological affects on people, especially the elderly, children, and young adults. By getting the vaccine I am hoping to help society move forward faster. I enjoy going out to eat, hugging people, and shaking hands. Nothing warms my heart more than seeing someone smile. Wearing masks ruins all that. So, I want to put the whole mask mandate in the rearview mirror.
I fully anticipate the naysayers and fearmongers to push wearing masks in public all the time, even when we are past COVID-19. I adamantly disagree with their baseless rationale. I reject fear in Jesus’ name and want to help people - getting the vaccine is one simple way of doing that.
Back when the plagues struck Europe, it was the Christians who cared for the sick and the dead. When everyone else ran from the plague, Christians stayed to serve. In the same way, I will continue to minister to people, pray with people, and care for people as I have always tried to do. And if I get COVID-19 again before I get the vaccine, so be it. That is a risk I am willing to take to minister to people in need. When the vaccine becomes available to me, I do plan on getting it. I want to love my neighbor like Jesus tells me to do. Getting the vaccine isn’t compromising my faith or theology, it’s the right thing to do for me and everyone I am trying to disciple and share the gospel with.
The hardest person on the planet to manage is you. That’s right you. Many people can manage great companies while failing miserably at managing their own life. You are the only one who can manage your life, so you need to manage it well.
In my conversations with people, especially during COVID, I have often heard certain words repeated over and over. Words like: exhausted, stressed, anxiety, tired, anxious, isolated, and depressed. The people who use these words are from all ages and stages of life.
Surveys show a major increase in the number of U.S. adults who report symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression during the pandemic, compared with surveys before the pandemic. Some people have increased their use of alcohol or drugs, thinking that can help them cope with their fears about the pandemic.
(https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/mental-health-covid-19/art-20482731, accessed 21 December 2020)
The Mental Health Association reported that in May and June of 2020 anxiety screenings were 406% greater than in January of the same year, while screenings for depression were 457% greater. A six-fold increase was noted for those considering suicide or “self-harm.”
(https://journals.lww.com/ajnonline/Fulltext/2020/11000/Mental_Health_Effects_of_COVID_19.5.aspx, accessed 21 December 2020)
I understand what it feels like to have stress. At one point in my life, I was so stressed that I had to wear a mouth guard because I was grinding teeth at night.
In my experience, there are a handful of key practices that will help you manage your emotional health during these difficult times.
First, remember that this is a season and it will pass. King Solomon was incredibly wise. He writes: “1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:…” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). There are two types of time, Chronos time and Kairos time. Chronos time refers to clock and calendar time. There are 24 hours in every day and seven days in every week. That is clock and calendar time. Kairos time refers to seasons. Think of it like seasons of the year or seasons of life. For example, there is a time to be single and a time to be married (if you choose). There is a season when you may have young children and a season when you parent adult children. COVID is a season and this season will pass. You will be the happiest and most fulfilled in life when you learn how to embrace both types of time.
Second, stay connected to God because it will help you stay emotionally grounded. When I feel connected to God, the rest of my life feels manageable. When I feel God’s love and open to the Holy Spirit’s gentle promptings, my quality of life goes up. This shouldn’t be a surprise since Jesus says: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
Third, invest in life-giving relationships. If you feel loved and like you are able to give love, you are more likely to feel emotionally healthy. Not every family relationship is healthy to maintain. Sometimes it is healthier to end or pause a relationship, even with a family member, rather than to try to fix it.
Everyone needs a refrigerator friend. This is the friend who is so comfortable around you that when they are in your house, they go in your fridge to get what they want. If you don’t have someone in your life like this, ask God to bring the right person into your life, He will.
And finally, take time to have some fun. What do you like to do for fun? Do you like to watch movies, bike, or cook? Find something to do that fills your fun-bucket in this season of life and do it.
God wants you to be emotionally healthy. Getting emotionally healthy isn’t just a one-time decision, it’s a lifestyle. Right now, your emotional health is more important than ever and only you can manage it, so manage it well.
I have a long list of complaints. I don’t like this social distanced way of living even a single bit. I hate wearing a mask, don’t like seeing businesses close, wish I could go see a new movie, don’t like seeing people get sick, struggle with my kids “distance learning” efforts, can’t stand all the political division, and the list goes on and on. It’s easy to get caught up in all the problems because they keep popping up faster than one can count. I have even limited the amount of time I spend watching the news because it’s depressing. It’s not that I am pretending that everything is good, I’m just choosing to catch the highlights and not get bogged down in the mud.
You probably have a list of complaints just like I do. This past year has been a dismal mess for many. The question is “Who can we share our list of complaints with?” Sure, you could fire off emails, pound out nasty texts, and make scathing phone calls, but the truth is that the schools dislike distance learning as much as you do. Restaurant owners are just as frustrated with limited capacity as you. Sick people don’t like being sick and healthy people don’t like wearing masks. So, complaining to everyone doesn’t help anyone.
There is one person who is willing to listen to your litany of complaints. He is the one who knows exactly how you feel. He was lonely, let down, betrayed, gossiped about, and beaten by people who hated him. He felt the sting of a whip, the agony of death, and by the grace of His heavenly Father, the joy of being resurrected from the grave. He is interested in your life and wants to be present with you in it.
I encourage you to bring your complaints to Jesus. Maybe you have never done this or are afraid that he doesn’t want to hear about your problems. Nothing is further from the truth. King David wrote many of the Psalms recorded in the bible. He complained to God about his enemies, his lack of food at times, and his frustration that God seemed silent just when needed the most. Another book in the Old Testament was written by a man of God named Jeremiah. If you read the book that bears his name, it can be depressing. Jeremiah was not known for his humor, he is remembered for his depression. Yet God inspired them to write their feelings and emotions down for you and I to see. God wants you to know that he is with you in victory or defeat. He cares about you and understands your situation. God is big enough to handle our complaint lists - he handled David’s and Jeremiah’s just to name two.
When you share your complaints with God, He will fill you with His peace. It’s a supernatural thing that is hard to explain, but awesome to experience. In the past month I have had more intense conversations with God over my frustrations than I can remember. Every time I bared my heart God filled me with His presence. Just knowing that God is in control calms me. Talking to Him in prayer centers me on what matters most, my relationship with Jesus Christ. When you talk to God in prayer it will center you as well. God will fill your tank, calm your storm, and give you peace regardless of how many complaints you have. So in this season, trust God and take comfort in knowing that he cares about you and loves you. Talk to Him about everything that is near and dear to you even if it’s your list of complaints. By the grace of God, you will get through this if you lean into your faith. God is with you.
Are you a good neighbor or a bad neighbor? I’ll be honest and say that I have not always been the best neighbor. My kids have ridden their bikes on other people’s lawns and my dogs have done their business without me carrying a dodo bag to clean up after them.
Part of the reason our country is so torn apart right now is that people have never learned how to be good neighbors. Instead of building bridges they have built walls. Instead of showing love they have harbored hate. Instead of intentionally listening and learning they have hung out “no trespassing” signs. If you want to build a better community it starts with your heart.
Jesus gave two clear commandments that Mark recorded: “30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-32
Jesus spoke this to his Jewish followers who were really good at neighboring with their fellow Jews who looked like them and talked like them and acted like them but terrible when it came to neighboring anyone who wasn’t Jewish.
The Jews did not like the Samaritans because they were half Jewish and half Gentile. They didn’t like the Romans because they worshiped their emperor. They didn’t like the Greeks because they had their own Greek gods. So when Jesus commanded them to love their neighbors he was referring to loving everyone regardless of their skin tone or ethnicity or socioeconomic status. This was a radical statement back then and it still is now.
You are capable of loving where you live if you choose to see your neighbor as a child of God. Your neighbor was created in the image of God just like you. God designed everyone and every color of human being there is.
“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27
When you choose to see other people as God’s creation it changes your perception of them. You will begin to feel compassion for them, love for them, and forgiveness because God tells us to forgive those who have hurt us. You might not every become best friends, but you can do your part and see them as a human being created in the image of God.
There was a long standing show on T.V. called Mister Rogers Neighborhood. In the late 1960’s segregation had been abolished, but black citizens were still not embraced as equal participants in public life everywhere. Martin Luther King had been assassinated in 1968 and many community pools across the country still refused to let blacks swim with whites. It was in this tense atmosphere that Fred Rogers performed a simple but meaningful act which aired on May 9, 1969.
Rogers invited Officer Clemmons, a black actor who played a police officer on the show, to join him and cool his feet in a small plastic wading pool. When Clemmons sat down and placed his feet in the water, right next to Rogers’, the two men broke a well-known color barrier. When Clemmons took his feet out of the pool, he used Mister Rogers towel to dry his feet and then Mister Rogers used the same towel to dry his. It was a powerful statement. He was teaching the world how to be a good neighbor.
Loving where you live includes loving your neighbors. Do something to build bridges with them. Here are a few examples of bridge building:
Mow the neighbor’s lawn
Watch their kids
Watch their dog
Care about them as a person
Pray for your neighbors by name every day.
Bring the love of Christ to a world that desperately needs to see it.
Maybe it’s that time of year or maybe I am just a little more sensitive nowadays, but in the past few weeks I have heard or seen social media posts from people informing their online friends that they love Jesus but hate the church. I find that statement fascinating and worth digging into. Is it even possible for someone to love Jesus and hate the church? I guess it is possible, but is it right? Sometimes people have a bad experience with a church. Unfortunately, that is a reality for many people. Maybe they had a pastor who didn’t show up when they needed a pastor and this soured them. Or maybe they were victimized by a clergy as a child. Clergy abuse is abhorred and unacceptable and the abuser should be held accountable for their actions no matter how long ago it happened. Sometimes people get into disagreements with others and leave the church. Some people don’t like being asked to give money so they leave the church. Instead of finding a new church where they can practice biblical tithing, they stop giving altogether and blame their last church as the reason why they stopped. There are literally thousands of reasons why people get angry with the church, but does that mean they cause to hate the church in general?
Jesus started the church. He gave birth to it. It’s His baby and he is the chief shepherd of it. Jesus never told his disciples to build a specific kind of church or style of church, he just told them to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20). Some churches are huge and others are tiny. Some have traditional worship services or sing acapella. Other churches use a full band and an array of singers. Some churches have steeples and others meet in schools. Where a church meets, what worship style it holds sacred or whether it has benches or stadium seating is irrelevant. What matters is that believers get together for fellowship, prayer, teaching, worship, evangelism, and serving are what’s important. Believers are told to get together as the body of Christ which constitutes a church. And on top of that Jesus told his followers to love each other. This is paramount.
So for a person to say that they love Jesus but hate the church is unbiblical. It’s the same as telling Jesus you love him but think his church is ugly and you want no part of it. This breaks Jesus heart and limits the witness of his disciples. The church isn’t perfect because it is run by normal people, forgiven people, but imperfect people none the less. Just because you left one church for one reason or another it doesn’t mean that you should quit going to church altogether. You should find a new church where you can tithe and contribute to the body of believers. You should be a part of a fellowship that exults the name of Jesus and is committed to making disciples like Jesus commanded his followers to do.
Jesus started the church and he will come back for it. Believers are accountable to be a part of the church body and help it to fulfill its mission to make disciples no matter the style of church, age of its members, where it meets, or size in weekend numbers. The next time you hear someone say they love Jesus but hate the church, remind them that it’s Jesus’ church. So by saying they hate the church they are saying they think Jesus was wrong to start it.
I want to encourage you to be a part of a Spirit-filled, bible believing church. You may have had a bad church experience in the past, but that doesn’t change the fact that God still wants you to be a part of His church with other believers. So find a church that fits you and where you can contribute. When believers unite for the cause of Christ, it’s marvelous and powerful and you have the honor of being part of it.