Monday, May 9, 2011

The Untouchables of the American Church

Prelude: before you read this post, I want to inform you that I agree with this 150%. This was written by my editor & fellow author Shantae Charles. I remember her telling me a month ago she was planning to write this, and I was waiting for it. She released this on her blog page last week and it was fire! I'm with her when she says, "if you can't tell it, let me tell it!" Most of you know, that's how I am (especially if you went to FAMU with me between 1998 - 2001). With that said, you will probably get offended by this, but I'd advise you to pray about what you''ve just read.   
        As I begin this blog, I want to make it clear: the Pastoral calling, and indeed the calling to 5-fold ministry (Eph 4:11-14) is one of the most daunting and rewarding calls one can recieve from God. As a minister who is called to 5-fold ministry, I count it an honor that God counted me worthy putting me into ministry. I am also blessed to have been discipled and trained under pastoral leadership both past and present that has been full of integrity and full of the Holy Spirit's empowerment. I know that many people complain about their church or Pastors, but this is NOT a complaint. I hope to encourage the 5-fold ministry while at the same time provoke my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to good works and greater relationship with Jesus Christ.

         Jesus said that those who are not saved, are already condemned. He came to provide good news, news of salvation and deliverance, news of healing and forgiveness. Once we have recieved that message, and been grafted in to the Body of Christ, the fold of God, through justification, we emark on a lifelong journey with God in fellowship, in discipleship, in community with other believers, and along the way, we mess up. We screw up royally. We confess, we repent, we ask for God's forgiveness, and faithfully God provides it (I John 1:9).

But, what happens to us when we no longer want to hear the message of the cross? When our walk becomes comfortable and we take a laissez-faire, "let it be" approach to sin? What happens when church becomes just another thing "to do" instead of another opportunity "to change", to be renewed in the spirit of our mind, to understand what it means to put on Christ and not fulfill the desires of the flesh/carnal man?

Well, we come upon what I call The Untouchables: things that many pastors are inceasingly having a hard time addressing over the pulpit or have stopped addressing altogether for fear of losing membership, social or political reprisals (losing a pastorate), economic reprisals (decrease in tithe and offering to support church ministry), and as our laws becoming increasingly "anti-Christian", time in jail. Though there are many more, here are 8 of what I call The Untouchables of the American Church and the attitudes that go along with them.

1. "Don't preach to me about music."
"Yes, I will sell my soul for a Jay-Z, Beyonce, etc. concert ticket, and don't expect me to show up for service if the concert is on the same night as Bible Study...So what if their lyrics mock/deny Christ, and make fun of all that is good, glorifies sex outside of marriage, hustling, drugs, gang violence...the beat is thumping, you can't deny that.

2. "Don't interfere with my love/Sex life."
"So what if I want to be with more than one partner? That wait until marriage idea is archaic. Besides we both agreed to this open marriage...its what's in right now. You've got to try the relationship out first before you settle down with one person, right?"

3. "Don't preach to me about "rights to life."
"Its my body and I can do what I want with it...despite the fact that most abortions are not occuring because the mother's life is in danger, or because of incest or sexual what? If I want to use abortion like its birth control, who are you to tell me what to do?"

4. "Don't tell me homosexuality is a sin."
"Look, you just need to get over this, okay? People have been doing this for centuries and its not going to stop. Besides, my Mom, BFF, Uncle, Grandpa, and favorite singers are gay and they're nice to me, so, what's the big deal? You should be able to be with who you want to, right?"

5. "Don't tell me my political views are wrong."
"My president is black, and that's all that matters to me, and if you say another word, I'll shut your mouth for you...besides, faith shouldn't play a role in how you vote and what bills you support, right?"

6. "Don't tell me my appetite is out of control."
"Look, you're not Richard Simmons, so don't even try to tell me what to what my blood pressure is a little high, and I'm ignoring all the medical advice I have recieved from medical professionals...I'm going to eat, drink, and be merry. End of discussion."

7. "Don't preach to me about my social life."
"You're on thin ice,now. I've sacrificed to join this organization, I've given my time, money, blood, sweat, and tears, I've got too much invested and I'm not giving it up...besides, if you just give me some time, I know I can win them over."

8. "Don't preach about my vices.(Drinking, Obscene Language, Gambling, Smoking)"
"I know, I know, they're bad for me, but everything in moderation, right? My habits aren't really hurting anybody, as long as I only socially drink, and I don't smoke around my what if I fly off the handle? Everybody gets angry and has an off day, right? Oh, and if I hit the jackpot, I fully intend to donate to the church, okay? Just, leave me alone! I'm only human."

The above attitudes may surprise you, but what surprises me the most is that these attitudes are reflected by Believers in conversation and demonstration. When you have attitudes like this, it is no wonder 1,500 Pastors daily on estimate leave the ministry. If Pastors can't address the things in our lives that fuel carnality and unrighteousness, then where does that leave the church? We have to be a body of believers willing to hear the truth regardless of whether it is socially or politically correct. Our main concern should be whether it is Biblically correct. Is this for my spiritual good? Is my lifestyle leading me to eternal life or eternal death? Pastors have a serious charge to provide us with truth, to mature us in righteousness, and to give account for our soul, if we have been placed in their flock.

The Apostle Paul and other apostles throughout the letters to the church (not unbelievers) addressed some of these very same issues: sexual immorality, reveling, unnatural affection, sobriety of the saints, filthy language & communication, and so forth. Yet, at a very critical time in world history, and indeed church history, it appears the church is still needing milk. We must go on to maturity, but we must be a church committed to holiness, righteousness,truth and purity, which by the way are required of all church regardless of denomination or non-denomination. God is coming back for the  Church, His Bride without spot and wrinkle, not a church that excuses or makes excuses for a stained garment.

I encourage you, as I was challenged by the Lord, to examine yourself and see if you are in the faith. I encourage Pastors to not back down from the hard issues, the "untouchables" and preach the unadulterated Word of God. We're counting on you!

Blessings, Peace, and Church Love