Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
I was reading Radical by David Platt the other day and I came across a surprising story. He told a story about a ship that was built in the 1950s. The ship was known as the SS United States. In the 50's, she was the fastest ship on the planet. She could be anywhere in the world in less than 10 days. She could transport 15,000 troops. She could also go 10,000 miles without stopping for fuel and supplies. She was a very impressive ship, built to transport soldiers.
The surprising thing is that she was never used for that purpose. She was put on alert in the 60's during the Cuban missile crisis, but she was never used for her intended purpose. Instead, she was converted into a luxury liner for presidents, heads-of-state, celebrities, and other wealthy individuals who could pay the fare. In her 17 years of service she was never used for the her purpose.
The sad thing is that this could be said of many of our churches. Instead of training disciples of Christ, we're country clubs for those who fit in. As members we want to make sure the church is taking care of us, and as leaders we want to make sure we're taking care of our members. Not that we shouldn't take care of each other, but that's all we're concerned about. We make sure church is a fun place to hang out with friends and family. We schedule fun events and ,from time to time, we participate or organize charity events to reach out into the community to show that we care. Instead of asking people to sign up to serve Christ, we ask people to join the club. To put it bluntly, we are being "conformed to this world."
Obviously, that's not what Christ intended for His church to be. I'm not saying that any of these things are bad in and of themselves. It's great to spend time together as a church and have fun, but again, that's all that we are doing most of the time. In Matthew 16:18 Jesus wrote that even the gates of Hell wouldn't be able to stop the church. I remember the first time I truly understood that passage. Greg Hollifield was preaching on this particular passage. He pointed out that gates don't move. Therefore, Hell isn't attacking us, we're attacking it. We're going into enemy territory and trying to convert and bring back people to our side.
When you read the book of Acts, the church isn't sitting still and having parties. They're reaching out. Mission works are starting. People's needs are being met. The church is growing exponentially. The Christians are giving sacrificially. The church is being persecuted. Now before we say Christians have freedom and we don't have to endure persecution, I wager that we aren't suffering persecution because we're not really acting like the church. We're afraid to hurt people's feelings by telling them they need to follow Christ. We don't want to get immoral activist groups after us because we tell the truth. When Christians suffer because they refuse to go along the political correctness of this world, where are we. In our churches praying that we never have to deal with that.
Just think about how different the world would be if we actually asked people the hard questions. Do we ask people is they are really followers of Jesus Christ? Do we ask people if they live daily for Him? Do challenge people to make more than a verbal commitment and choose to surrender their lives to serve Christ? Or are we afraid to do that because we aren't really following Christ like we should. I'm not trying to make us feel guilty so we will serve Christ more. I'm trying to point out that we all have blind spots, places in our lives where we could be better.
Paul pointed out that transformation comes from a renewal of the mind. That renewal comes from reading God's Word. As we spend time with God in His Word, He changes us more and more into the likeness of His Son. That's what we are meant to be, God's children. And as we are being transformed, our churches will begin to be transformed into a gathering of God's children boldly serving Him in this world. My hope is that one day, we will be so bold that the world has no clue how it's going to stop us, and by us I mean God. In the end, every movement forward to serve God is done by God. He just asks for willing servants.
So are you conforming to the world, or are you letting Christ transform you into His child? What are some ways in which the church can be better at being the church it is meant to be? What do you think are some things that are hindering the church from being what it is meant to be?