Søren Kierkegaard believed that true Christianity is costly and demands humility…But what Kierkegaard saw in the Church were constant attempts to make Christianity more palatable, more popular, and less offensive. He said if we strip away the offensive from Christianity and try to make things fun and easy for everyone, “then lock the churches, the sooner the better, or turn them into places of amusement which stand open all day long.”Francis Chan, Letters to the Church
If Søren Kierkegaard said this about the church in the early 1800s, what would he say about her today? How many in our world, nation, or town have stripped away anything that stings in hopes of drawing a better crowd? How do you think this is going for them?
Studies show mainline protestant churches are rapidly declining in membership after decades of liberal teaching and succumbing to societal norms. This doesn’t mean evangelical churches are far behind. Have efforts to become more “seeker friendly” helped? How many come for the coffee and praise band, but then leave before the sermon or skip the Bible study?
These warnings of Kierkegaard and Chan are nothing new, as John heard them from Christ himself while in exile on Patmos in his later years. “You have forsaken your first love,” he wrote to the church in Ephesus. “Do not be afraid to suffer,” he said to those in Smyrna. He also had some things against the churches in Pergamum, Thyratia, and Sardis, while he hoped the church in Laodicea would stop being lukewarm. (Revelation 2-3)
Staying sharp requires effort. Constant evaluation, openness to correction, and accountability are the tools God uses to sharpen the knife of effectiveness. Giving in to public opinion and putting societal norms before the Word of God lead to a dull edge in preaching and teaching.
Paul wrote the church in Corinth, a church that was constantly under pressure from the pagan culture that surrounded them:
But we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.1 Corinthians 1:23-24 NIV
Ask the Lord to keep his Church sharp for the Kingdom, finding us faithful till the day of his return.
Grace and Peace