We shouldn’t be surprised at the mockery the church is experiencing or its lack of influence on society as a whole. We (the general American church at large) act ashamed of the gospel. In the church services of most evangelical churches, if there is a call to repentance and salvation, we no longer have people boldly leave their seats and come to the altar. There are several reasons for this, of which I will list a few.
We’ve removed the altars from most of our churches. The Old Testament would say that the altar of the Lord was torn down or broken down. We feel sorrow when we read it, yet we are guilty of the same. And it isn’t even from an outside force or church enemy. It is done by those who are called to care for it.
Then there is the reasoning that people will be embarrassed if they have to admit before others that they are lost in sin and need a savior. This reasoning is faulty on many fronts. First and foremost, Romans 3:23 tells us that ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God. There is a lack of humility and a problem of incredible arrogance to think that without God, we are in any way clean and good. We are all born in sin. Then, once saved, there is still the truth that our salvation was a gift of God’s grace and mercy alone. We did nothing to obtain it, nor could we. So, being saved puts me in no higher category than the one still lost in sin; other than that, I’ve found salvation through the only one who’s clean and good, which leads me back to the point. We should all be embarrassed by our sins and so humble that we run to an altar for salvation. Being embarrassed by sin means you realize the truth of your condition and how good God is. It is the beginning of wisdom when you come to know the fear of the Lord. Boy, we have messed that up. We don’t want anyone to fear a holy God or admit our sins. What a joke. We only fool ourselves. There should be great joy when we realize how awful our sin is and that we can run to a savior and never have to taste the flames of hell or get what we deserve. We can be forgiven and have a brand new life.
The flip side to the embarrassed coin is that we give no time in our services for the new converts to honestly spend time repenting and establishing a new life in Christ and in fellowship with him. Instead, we ask the whole congregation to pray the sinner’s prayer from our seats so no one feels singled out, sending the message that it’s embarrassing to repent. The result of not taking responsibility for our sins will not lead to true repentance or the need to change anything in our lives. That further leads to living a life embarrassed of the gospel. Listen, folks, confession is necessary. It forces us to take responsibility for our souls. James 5:16 tells us to confess our sins one to another so that we might be healed. How will we be healed without confession? Instead of a gospel that changes people, we give them a life that makes them comfortable remaining in their sinful condition. Comfort is not the goal! A life free from sin is the goal.
Matthew 5:13 says, “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.” That is what the world has done with this comfortable, non-embarrassed gospel. We shouldn’t be surprised. As if hiding your sin from people matters at all for eternity. God knows! Who cares if people know? We are all in need of a savior. You aren’t any different. We are not any better than anyone else. Romans 12:3 says, For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”
We need our saltiness back. We need our altars repaired. We need repentance restored. We need to forget about comfort and take seriously the job of saving the lost, which is our only job. Church isn’t about what makes you feel good. In fact, in many ways, it is the complete opposite. We must re-evaluate what we are doing and get busy doing our father’s business. The saltiness we need comes from the boldness we receive by recognizing that the old life and its sin kill not just in this life but for eternity. If we know this, we should want to save as many people as possible. Without it, we aren’t offering anyone anything worth having. It’s just a false sense of security. That’s why people’s lives aren’t changing. They aren’t really repenting. We look the same in the church as those outside the church. That’s just geography.
The scripture Jesus preached in Matthew 5 tells us that that kind of gospel is worth nothing. It should be thrown out and trampled. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating to put people on display to make them a spectacle. But we should be embarrassed by our sins and conduct before a Holy God to the point that we know we must repent. We must confess our sins and be saved. Then, we can obtain mercy and grace with total forgiveness, which produces eternal life.
As we approach the new year, I suggest that we all spend time reflecting in the mirror of God’s word and allow it to make us uncomfortable. Then, in that state, repent. Then and only then will we be ready to deal with others honestly. Do you need your conscience cleared? Do you need to be healed? Let’s return to the gospel and the old paths, for that is where we will find real life.