Since the ruling of the Supreme Court on same-sex marriage, my email inbox has been filled with Chicken Little prophecies foretelling the death of the church in America. According to these Debbie Downers, the federal government will systematically begin to shut down every institution and organization that doesn’t support the cultural agenda. Law suits will follow law suits and the church will be forced to close its doors.
All of this, and more, may come true—except for that last part. The church in America won’t close up. We won’t be shut down. We may change. We may adapt, but we won’t close. God will always find a way for His people. I’m old enough to remember when China closed the “Bamboo Curtain” and no missionaries or Christian literature were allowed in China. We thought Christianity had been eradicated in China, but when the country opened itself to the world we found, to our utter amazement, millions of Christians in China.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I do think that part of what’s going on is God is judging His church in North America. For too long, we’ve traded away our gospel birthright for the porridge of secular influence. We’ve become involved in secular politics to the point that the church is now viewed as just another political action committee. We’ve tried to become engaged in the entertainment world to the point that we’re just another demographic group to target through marketing.
Like the church at Laodicea, Christ is calling us back to our first love—Him and Him alone. He’s calling us back to the centrality of our mission—the proclamation of the good news of His gospel. We’ll find new energy and new power when we focus again on the gospel of Jesus Christ.
How will we do this? The same way the church has always done it. We’ll focus on the places and people no one wants. The medieval church was the only institution that responded to plague victims and their families. Mother Theresa reached out to the dying lepers of India. Again, we’ll find those people and places no one is paying attention to and start serving there. It’s what the church has always done when the church has been at her best.
And we’ll do it wherever we can. We’ll share the love of Christ in our homes, in neighborhood coffee shops, out under trees—wherever two or three will gather together. The church has never been tied to buildings or methods. We’ve been free to adapt our methods as needed to accomplish our kingdom message.
Yeah, I know it’s a different kind of day for the church in America. But then again, it’s not that different at all. We’ve been here before. The church has overcome worse. In fact, the church of Jesus Christ seems to thrive best in times like these.
So, trust Christ. Trust the message. Love your neighbors and spread the Word. Be encouraged. Our world is asking questions for which Jesus is the only answer.