FERGUSON MISSOURI AND THE FAILURE OF THE CHURCH
I have been watching the news like everyone else. My response on the issues in Ferguson Missouri, is not a political or a racial one. The events of Ferguson reflect the failure of the church being the church. For reasons that I will explain, the church has failed to evangelize our nation. Ferguson is just a symptom of that failure.
There is has been an increase in the number of police problems, particularly the militarizing of police departments. But when you see the riots and the destruction over the last few days, when you understand something about the drug culture that has gripped our nation, you can understand many of the issues that law enforcement face and are trying to solve. Many voices have been warning of the social chaos that is coming to our American society if something does not change.
You can understand, if you try, that being black can be a humiliating experience when you are pulled over, or checked simply because you are black. When I was young, I was hassled by police because I drove a loud car and had long hair. It is infuriating to be stopped because your looks don’t conform to some sort of societal norm. It is not right that you are given criminal attention simply because of your skin color.
However, the real issue is not race or ethnicity or law enforcement. The real issue is moral. To be more precise, the real issue is sin and the sin nature that resides in all of us. There is only one solution to sin and that is Jesus. Before you decide that I am being simplistic, read some more and understand why I say it is a church problem.
Morality is a spiritual issue. Morality is the foundation of our nation, of our freedoms. It makes it possible for us to have an open and free society. Morality is tightly connected to the vitality of the Judeo-Christian tradition. Our law system, our business system, family system, and the entire fabric of our society are based on the foundation of our historic moral system.
We should never be surprised with lost people act like lost people. Lostness creates a self-centered society. Human nature without God hates the things of God and we only seek our own self-interest. Lost people live as if there is no God, no moral order, and no responsibility to others. It is lostness that destroys the moral fabric of our society. I am not saying that one has to be a believer to be moral, morality can be taught. What I am saying is that Christians are failing to be salt and light. Christians act as if they are not Christians, as if they have not been saved and filled with the Holy Spirit. There is something deeply wrong with the church.
All churches have failed to evangelize our culture. Instead we have been won over by culture. We want to look like the world and act like the world thinking that makes us more attractive. The fact is, we have abandoned God’s purpose for the church. White churches and black churches failed Ferguson. The Good News of Jesus was replaced by various cultural icons.
This is a problem that has gone on for decades. As many formerly white neighborhoods, changed, the churches refused to minister to their new neighbors. White churches hunkered down into their little white citadels and refused black membership and refused to minister to their neighbors. Even as they dwindled to nothing they refused to open their doors and love their neighbors. The white church refused to evangelize and lost their moral voice.
But the black church has failed as well. Too many bought into the prosperity gospel teaching the hope of materialism rather than the hope of Jesus. The same can be said about politics. The black church became centers of political activity and pushed social change agendas. This is understandable but it is also a failure to understand what brings real change. Change comes when people have been confronted with Jesus, who redeems us and makes us new people.
Churches of all ethnic shapes and sizes, need to regain the basic Gospel truth; we are all sinners and we need to be saved by Christ. It is the Gospel that will unite us. It is the Gospel that will change us. It is the Gospel that can bring healing to the nation. The Bible teaches that when we become a follower of Christ, the Holy Spirit dwells in us. When we practice the presence of the Holy Spirit on a daily basis, he will conform our character into the image of Christ. Christ brings radical change to the human soul. We learn to respect people no matter what color they are or what religion they hold. We learn to respond to anger with kindness and to turn the other cheek. We learn to bless those who curse us and to go the second mile. Living the Christian life is a hard thing. We have high ideals. We cannot measure up to our calling as long as we refuse to live our lives controlled by the Holy Spirit.
We, who profess Christ as Lord and Savior, need to renew our lives in Christ. Christians need to learn to be witnesses both in the words we speak and in the deeds that we do. The love of Christ transcends skin color and cultural differences. The blood of Christ covers us and turns us crimson. The blood of Christ makes us all brothers and sisters in Christ.
Our nation is burning itself down. There are evil doers who have nefarious purposes and they will lead the nation to disaster. People will listen to them because they offer a false hope and because those who have a real message of hope have become silent. It is a terrible indictment on God’s people. We hold the solution to the sinful behavior of our nation, and we have refused to share that solution.
I like the quote from Martin Luther King, JR that has been circulating around on the internet: “We must learn to live together as brothers, or perish together as fools.” There is only one brotherhood that is big enough to accomplish this unity and that is the brotherhood we gain in Christ. We become a part of God’s family by entering the door of Christ. There is no other Door, no other Way. We must come together through the blood of Christ.
In the past, revivals and great awakenings have changed societies and prevented great disasters. If God’s people would repent of their materialism, their self-centeredness, and of their apathy, God could use us to change our nation. Otherwise, we will have more rioting in the streets, more police brutality as they have to defend themselves and an incredible loss of freedom. Freedom begins in the heart. We know that freedom is bought and paid for by Christ himself. Freedom means being conformed to Christ and not to the sin that so easily traps us.
AWAKE O CHURCH! Arise, and perhaps God himself will hear us and save us from our national disaster.