You may have read this study by Barna, but I think it is worth examining again as we try to reverse the tide of the declining effectiveness of our churches on the culture. We’ve looked at four now the fifth one.
5. The postmodern insistence on tolerance is winning over the Christian Church.
Our biblical illiteracy and lack of spiritual confidence has caused Americans to avoid making discerning choices for fear of being labeled judgmental. The result is a Church that has become tolerant of a vast array of morally and spiritually dubious behaviors and philosophies.
There are fewer and fewer issues that Christians believe churches should be dogmatic about. The idea of love has been redefined to mean the absence of conflict and confrontation, as if there are no moral absolutes that are worth fighting for. That may not be surprising in a Church in which a minority believes there are moral absolutes dictated by the scriptures.
The challenge for every Christian in the U.S. is to know his/her faith well enough to understand which fights are worth fighting, and which stands are non-negotiable. There is a place for tolerance in Christianity; knowing when and where to draw the line appears to perplex a growing proportion of Christians in this age of tolerance.
This shift has the potential for destroying the church and corrupting the very essence of the Gospel. We must not allow the culture to define, limit, or curtail our faith and belief. Are there cultural pressures that you feel today that you say, “I need to give a little on that so I can just get by – in my job, in my neighborhood, at my school.” Are we tolerating more and more cultural immorality? Are we afraid of being labeled “narrow minded” or “intolerant?” Go back ten years, fifteen years in your life. What’s changed in America?
It reminds me of the illustration of the frog in the kettle. Slowly turn up the heat and let it boil and he will not hop out. The church is all about sharing the truth of the Gospel. If we are asleep at the wheel over time we will start to tolerate small changes that the culture has imposed on the church and eventually those small changes will lead us into boiling waters of compromise.
Let’s not forget what the first century church faced in such a pagan environment. We must go back to the basics and teach our people basic Bible doctrine. Yes we respect the rights of others to believe in other religions, this is tolerance, but that does not mean we agree that they are true.
Being tolerant does not mean we compromise our faith. Surveys have shown that many of our people sitting in our pews each Sunday do not believe that Jesus is the only way to God. They believe that He is one of many ways. No wonder we have lost our evangelism zeal to reach this culture, we don’t really believe that lost people are lost in the first place!
1 Peter 3:15 says, “but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;” NASU
When Christ is Lord we are ready to share the reason we are followers of Christ. As this verse says we must always share with gentleness and reverence. Sometimes Christians come off arrogant and prideful because we are! We never argue someone into the Kingdom but we do love them into the Kingdom.
What are you presently doing in your church to help people understand the culture without compromising with the culture. Do they know what they believe and why they believe?
Keep the Son in your eyes,