I"m just going to dive right in, no introduction really.
I went to South Africa with a team. One of the guys on my team, David, brought us white bracelets that say, "UNTIL HE COMES...2 PETER 3:11-18". I don't wear it too often because it's huge on me and falls off, but I wear it as much as I can because I do like it, and people often ask about it. Like today.
Someone asked me, "What's 2 Peter say?" Then they see the rest of it and say, "Until He comes..." And so I'm like score! I can talk about Jesus. Right here. At the breast cancer walk. And someone else brought it up, so I won't really get into trouble. So I begin by briefly saying that 2 Peter just talks about what we, as Christians, should be doing until Jesus comes. And this is how the person responded: "So you should just be waiting around until He comes?" Knife in heart. I told this person, "No, quite the opposite actually. It says that we should not be waiting around". They said that they had been in a multitude of churches where that's all they do. They wait. That there are many churches that just stand by and don't take action. And that's why this person is so against the Church. Because the church has turned them away the Church. The church has turned this person away from Jesus. JESUS.
(I use "church" with lower case c as the building and "Church" with a capital as the body of Christ. And there was a little more to the conversation, but that was the main part that tore me up.)
First, let me just explain why this tore me up so badly.
1. It's because I've been hurt by a church, and thus a Church, before. And it totally sucks. Being hurt by people who are to be following Christ, is incredibly destructible. When I left that church, I was destroyed. My relationship with Christ was pretty shattered and I lost trust and faith in a lot of people and things and with Christ. And it breaks my heart when other people experience that.
2. Churches, both the body of Christ and places of worship, are to be glorifying God. Are to be moved and driven by Him. Are to be led by Him. Churches should be leading people to Christ, not pushing them away. What happened here. What is going on in these churches? Why are people being hurt by them? Here's my short answer, just a guess: Because they lose focus on Jesus.
3. I don't think this person has ever been introduced to Jesus. In fact, I'm willing to bet that there are many people who go to church and haven't ever really been introduced to Jesus. And that also breaks my heart. Because Jesus is who can save people, not the church. Jesus is so, so good and people are still saying He's bad? That doesn't make sense to me. Again, here's my guess as to why, in the super short version: People claim to be Christians, but their actions don't line up with their words.
If you know Jesus, I sure hope this breaks your heart too.
Here's what 2 Peter 3:11-18 says:
"Since everything around us is going to be destroyed like this, what holy and godly lives you should live, looking forward to the day of God and hurrying it along. On that day, he will set the heavens on fire, and the elements will melt away in the flames. But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God's righteousness. And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight. And remember, the Lord's patience gives people time to be saved. This is what our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom God gave him--speaking of these things in all of his letters. Some of his comments are hard to understand, and those who are ignorant and unstable have twisted his letters to mean something quite different, just as they do with other parts of Scripture. And this will result in their destruction. I am warning you ahead of time, dear friend. Be on guard so that you will not be carried away by the errors of these wicked people and lose your own secure footing. Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. All glory to him, both now and forever! Amen."
(First time using the cool font thingys...it looks pretty tight..)
2 Peter says DON'T WAIT. Don't stand still. Don't be complacent. Move. Act. Go. Do. Make every effort. Grow. Look forward, be eager.
Jesus calls us, His followers, to move and go and make disciples (Mark 16:15, Matt. 28:19). He tells us that we are His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20).
"So, my dear brothers and sister, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless." 1 Corinthians 15:58
"Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love." 1 Corinthians 16:13
Christians, Christ followers, the ambassadors for the Lord--we are a body. One in Christ. We need to be His hands, His feet. We need to uplift people, encourage people, show people the hope there is in Christ. Our purpose here is to further His Kingdom.
If people's only introduction to "Jesus" is through waiting Christians, through bored people in church, through a shattered and destroyed church, through people whose actions and words don't line up. Then that's bad news bears. And if you have only encountered those Christians, I desperately pray that you will encounter the real Jesus. The One who is, the great I AM, the Alpha, the Omega, the Beginning, the End, the King of kings, Lord of lords. The One who is full of mercy, grace, compassion, love, forgiveness. The One who brings peace and hope.
And if you are a Christian. Jesus is coming. What are you doing until then?
"Clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other's faults, and forgive anyone who offend you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony." Colossians 3:12-13