How interesting…I shared some of these thoughts with someone on social media a couple days ago, adapted them to share on the blog, but then decided not to post them. Now several things make it clear I should post, expanding the thoughts even more. *THIS 1,000 word post can be read in 3 minutes*
It seems there is a strange disconnect with Christians when it comes to sin. What is going on? And what am I talking about exactly? Of course, most Christians (evangelicals at least) fully acknowledge the reality of sin. Sin is not an “outdated concept” as some liberals may espouse. Romans 3:23 says that all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory. Our sin is why we need a Savior. But there seems a disconnect between what Christians know and their perceptions about life.
Too often I find Christians can be the worst at acknowledging hard truths about humanity, current and historical. We refuse to see. Racial and systemic injustice come to my mind. But not just racial injustice, but a variety of things. For example, a respected Christian leader is found to have victimized someone and there is straightforward evidence – yet the leader is defended and the victim is ostracized. Folks just will not believe that their “beloved leader” could do such a thing!
Christians can be naive about sin or have a “head in the sand” mentality. Once when concerns about internet porn came up, a Christian mother I was with said with a strong tone “my sons would NEVER look at anything like that!” – after all, she wasn’t raising disgusting perverts. Sigh. Internet porn is sadly ubiquitous, and it is easy for kids and teens to stumble upon it – even if they aren’t overtly looking for it.
I could continue with examples, but… Why are Christians naive like this? Apparently not even seeing sin as a possibility to be on guard against? Why do we see certain people as above reproach? No one is above reproach, not even your beloved child or respected leader or you. Why do we ignore red flags? Overlook obvious signs that sin is at work corrupting a person or institution or situation?
As Christians, I think we, above all, should have the most realistic view of sin. Why don’t we? I say we, as I include myself in these concerns, as I am an evangelical. But a realistic view of sin (and life) has generally not been a problem for me. Sin discourages me, but rarely surprises me.
This does NOT mean we look at others with suspicion, or always assume the worst, or that we don’t have hope in the power of the gospel to transform lives and societies – But…
We should be the last ones to be naive, whether it involves the past or present. Have we forgot that Satan is on the prowl looking for folks to devour? Sin destroys lives and societies. While we evangelicals theoretically know all about sin and its seriousness, somehow sin has taken us captive. When we are naive about sin, we grant sin power over us. Sin has power to blind us and to deceive us.
Dr. Svigel just shared on twitter: Evangelicalism needs an exorcism.
Yes, it does! “The demons need to be driven out of evangelicalism” as Dr. Svigel went on to clarify.
Who would have thought that Karen Swallow Prior, well known author and former professor at Liberty University, would be sharing this on CNN? (More thoughts below the 3 minute video clip.)
I recently studied through First Peter, written to encourage believers suffering hardship as they lived in a pagan culture, but chapter 4 has a warning. Verse 15 says: “If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler.” In other words, assess realistically what is causing your suffering. Maybe it is actually your sinful behavior, not the surrounding pagan culture!
First Peter chapter 2 verse 11 tells us “to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.” – Note your soul.
Peter’s focus flips the expectation. Remember they are living in a hostile culture, but rather than tell them to wage some culture war, the concern is to be on guard about a war against their soul.
Back to chapter 4, verse 17 says: “For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?”
Or as Dr. Svigel worded it, evangelicalism needs an exorcism!
We need to stop judging the world, and get our own house in order. Now of course, not everything is rotten in evangelicalism, but the fact remains our house is in bad condition. Perhaps we personally are not a “bad evangelical” but the house we are a part of is in need of significant rehab. Daniel, in his prayer in Daniel 9, prayed “we” – more here – and we should do the same.
Years ago I was a “culture war” Christian, and even though I have changed since then, I must admit I have played a part in what has resulted. I am guilty. I am a part of the troubles we see in the evangelical world. It is not that being concerned for the culture was entirely wrong, but things lost focus. Christians are supposed to be salt and light in the world. But we lost our saltiness and our light dimmed, as we became more concerned with sin out there, than sin among ourselves.
And while I have used the analogy of a house needing rehab, that is not the essence of Christianity! We can’t rehabilitate our self. Christianity is not a self-improvement program! Christianity is about Jesus – and how much we need Jesus to save us from our sin and give us new life.
Jesus had special messages for 7 churches in Revelation 2 and 3. He gave most of them words of encouragement but also words of warning or rebuke. Five of the seven churches were told to repent about something. And I feel certain that the evangelical church today would also hear a message to repent. We need to pray for an awareness of our sins and failures, and repent. As Revelation 2 and 3 repeats: “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
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