“Is the church in crisis? If so, what?” That’s the answer I found in a notebook I retrieved to go a community meeting.
I don’t even remember the meeting where we discussed the question. But my answer is there: “The crisis is that the truth of Jesus has been obscured, often by His own people.”
I wrote it about a year ago, and it’s more true that ever.
Exhibit A: The failure of my Lenten pledge.
I wanted to find a group of committed Christians to deepen my experience of contemplative prayer. The first two Christian groups I tried were miles away from the truth about Jesus. For example, this is the meditation passage I was sent this week from one of the groups:
“Jesus answered: I am the way of love, I am the truth of love, and I am the life of love. No one comes to God except through love.”
Hmmm, that’s not what my Bible says. It would be fairly easy for these folks to persuade others that all religions worship the same God. Because some faiths believe in multiple gods, that’s not really possible. .
Exhibit B: Christian nationalism
Americans aren’t God’s chosen people. Look it up. Self-righteousness, particularly when exhibited with hate and vile name calling, doesn’t reflect God’s character. It makes Jesus look bad when people say they are Christians and hate others, particularly other Christians. These days many people don’t even bother to keep quiet about it.
Exhibit C: Hypocrites
Religious leaders who are hypocrites or abuse their position, hurting others, are poor reflections of Jesus. In fact, the Bible indicates that they are among Jesus’ least favorite people.
I believe, from experience, that a close relationship with Jesus results in love, joy, peace, patience and the other fruits of the spirit. The Lord teaches that you can tell a good tree by its fruit.
How can we reflect the truth about Jesus? Through kindness. Through empathy. Generosity. Listening to understand. Respect. But, most of all, love.
Non-Christians watch Christians. When they see exhibits A, B and C, they think that is who Jesus is. Those of us that want the world to know Christ need to strive for holiness. So when people think “Jesus who?” they can see He’s reflected in your behavior.