An unprecedented number of Americans are declining to participate in organized religion. (See “America’s Changing Religious Landscape”, Pew Research Center, link below.)
Is it any wonder that people are rejecting church attendance, given the last decade’s convergence of religion and politics in a large sector of American Christianity? Why would people be drawn to religion when what they know about church (and therefore think of God) is what they witness on public platforms? Why would anyone be drawn to God when people who claim to represent him think and behave as they do?
To you who are understandably and rightfully turned off from this growing branch of American Christianity …
I wish you knew that “those people” are nothing like God.
I wish you knew that unrighteous people sometimes affiliate with a religious institution for selfish agendas and personal gain, not to worship God.
I wish you knew unscrupulous people sometimes exploit religion as a cover to control others, to shut them down with handpicked, out-of-context scriptures.
I wish you knew this usury has gone on since biblical days, and that Jesus had harsh words for people such as these. The sinless, ever-loving son of God wasn’t all sweetness and acceptance — while he gave “sinners” a pass, he boldly confronted hard-hearted, legalistic believers, calling them “you brood of vipers”, “snakes”, and “sons of Satan”.
Many of these religious people own the podium today — they pursued their platform and got what they wanted. Their numbers have swelled, and with it their sense of confidence and correctness. We hear from them regularly that they are right and the rest of the world is wrong.
This segment of Christianity has positioned themselves as the door through which everyone else must pass to access God — they have formed a united front to separate others from the love of God
For those of you observing it all, know this:
All Christians are not the same.
It’s not only non-Christians those people condemn, they also reject Christians who don’t conform to their beliefs. There are many who are alarmed and appalled at it. It was much different before politics insidiously infiltrated our churches. Services used to be about honoring God. In many churches it has become “us” verses “them”, and “right” verses “left”. Anger- and arrogant-tinged monologue that used to be considered wrong is now applauded.
There are many exceptions, to be sure. Many churches and individuals have not been swept into this trend; they have resisted conforming to a contaminated amalgam of theology, agendas, pride, politics, and appetite for power. I know many, many people who have attended their churches for decades, some for their whole lives; they and their churches have not changed. They are busy living life and making positive, genuine contributions to the world.
Another thing you should know:
God has not changed.
For those who have run the other way from Christianity, I wish you knew the immeasurable loss of “throwing out the baby with the bathwater”. Throw out the contaminated water of fraudulent religion, but don’t throw out God with it.
I wish you knew that God offers to be your lifeline, your air, your shelter, your sustenance.
I wish you knew you don’t have to go through “those people”. Humans are not the gatekeepers to God, regardless their claims, demands, or puffed-up display of authority.
The truth is …
No person or thing can separate anyone from the love of God.
Romans 8: 31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? 33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.
35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.” 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.