The cover article of the April 9 edition of Newsweek is entitled "Christianity in Crisis." In the article, author Andrew Sullivan makes it clear that he dislikes the church and says, in a nutshell, that people should forget church and just follow Jesus.
Sullivan's definition of following Jesus, however, is his distorted view of who Jesus is and what he taught. He would like to follow only the parts of the Bible he likes and ignore the rest. This is a seriously flawed understanding of the Bible.
Remember, the church is Jesus' idea, and is called His bride. To say "I love Jesus but hate the church" is like telling your best friend, "I like you but hate your wife," which would certainly offend him. It's the same with Jesus and the church.
Sullivan wants everyone to leave church because, in essence, it is full of hypocrites. Are there hypocrites in the church? Sure there are, just like there are hypocrites in every workplace, school, family and social club.
What those outside the church fail to recognize is that the church is made up of sinners saved by grace. No one is perfect. No one has "arrived."
Even though Christians are saved, we still do dumb things that are contrary to God's holy standards. Sure, its convenient to call this hypocrisy, but for most Christians it's not (yes, there are some glaring exceptions). Furthermore, it's not hypocritical for an imperfect follower of Jesus to say what the Bible teaches on theological and moral issues.
Contrary to Mr. Sullivan, I don't believe that hypocrisy is the church's main problem. I believe it's a lack of the knowledge of biblical theology and the practical application of it to everyday life. Hypocrisy, lukewarmness, worldly lifestyles and secular worldviews are just symptoms of this lack.
Is Christianity in trouble? Yes, we've gotten away from our main focus — Jesus. But the trouble we find ourselves in can be turned into transformation when we fall on our faces, repent of our sin and earnestly seek God for revival. Will you join me in this?
Pastor Frank Nolton
New Hope Community Church