Philippians 2:3 - Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
There is an organization known as the George Barna Group.
The George Barna Group generally goes to Christians and asks them questions to which I really don't want to know the answer. By that I mean Barna surveys reveal information that makes me feel very uncomfortable. Let me give you an example:
A recent Barna Group survey has found there is a great difference between church-going and non-church-going Christians. That difference can be summed up in two sentences:
1. Non-church-going believers say they are "spiritual, but not religious."
2. Non-church-going believers say they "love Jesus, but not the church."
Now the other thing you probably don't want to know is this: the non-church-going group of believers is growing. That's right. In 2004 that segment of believers was around seven percent. Today, that number has jumped to 10 percent.
Now a lot of church-going believers I know would say, "If you are a Christian, you go to church. That's what Christians do." To that statement, the non-church goers would reply, "Look, we believe in the Triune God. We believe He is all-powerful, all-knowing, the Creator and Preserver of the universe. Along with that, we love the Savior who died and rose for our salvation."
Then they add, "We are a lot like you, but we have lost faith in the church."
And if you asked the non-church-attending believer why he feels the way he does, and if he were being honest, he would say, "It's because in the church I have met hypocrites. They say they love as Jesus did but, no matter how long I worship with them, I'm still a stranger."
They can go on pointing out that we talk more about money than lost souls, that we're always fighting rather than loving, that we seem more concerned about silly things and not spiritual things that ... well, you get the idea.
Now you know why the Barna Group's revelations make me feel so uncomfortable.
What bothers me even more is that I can't argue against the criticisms of those non-church goers. I can't deny what they're saying because they are speaking from personal experience. Churches and church-going believers can sometimes be as bad as these folks suggest ... sometimes.
Is there an answer to all this? Sure, to love as Jesus loved. In that spirit
1. To the non-church goers, I would say the Bible always encourages God's people to be as one. We are to support each other; bear each other's burdens, commune, and do mission work together. Generally speaking, non-church goers don't do all those things.
2. To church-goers I would say remember that we are always the Lord's representatives, and it is our job to do the things listed above. Neither a new guest nor an old-time member should ever leave us -- or our church -- feeling that Christ's church no longer looks like Jesus.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, help me love others as You have loved me. In Jesus' Name, I ask it. Amen.
The story upon which this Daily Devotion is based was written by Veronica Neffinger for ChristianHeadlines.com on Monday, April 10, 2017. The website where the parent article can be found is: www.christianheadlines.com/blog/study-increasing-number-of-americans-love-jesus-but-not-the-church.html
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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