Monday, April 13, 2009

Pilgrims in a Strange Land

"Who ever thought that trying to live the biblical Christian life in America could make you feel so foreign?"

I don't know about you, but I'm still adjusting to this new life as a stranger and pilgrim as a Christian with a biblical world-view in the U.S. How about you? We now live in a western-American world where "Christians" are dating the church, attempting to custom make their own house of worship, attending when it feels right, our own government and media are telling the church to shut up and leave well enough alone when it comes to little things like sin, life, death, marriage and liberty.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is now hearing arguments as you read this blog against President Obama’s intention to rescind the “conscience clause” regulation that former President Bush put into place weeks before leaving office. The clause aims to protect the rights of health-care workers to refuse to provide care they find morally objectionable — especially abortion and the morning-after pill. It also stops federal funding to medical facilities that do not accommodate their workers’ convictions. Welcome to the new wave of American persecution to hit pro-lifers and the church in 2009. A biblical conscience could conceivably lead to criminal charges today.

David Stevens, president of the Christian Medical Association, warned in a Washington news conference: “In some states, pharmacists must dispense certain medications or lose their licenses. . . . Students are denied admission to medical schools or residency programs because they are not in favor of abortion. Doctors and nurses are losing their job or a promotion because of their beliefs.” Stevens also warned of the many Catholic-affiliated hospitals in the U.S. that may close their facilities all together rather than follow government regulations on abortion and contraception. He noted that 23 percent of his association’s members already report facing discrimination because of their beliefs.

What's our response? Protest and petitions? Not if our lifestyle and faith makes little difference to those we disagree with. The church is a body of believers that is rather dysfunctional today. According to a pastor of a large church in Kentucky, "Faith is relevant for many people, but church is not. People want to attend to the spiritual side of their lives, they are interested in God, but their experience of church has not been relevant. They say, 'Why do I have to sit through boring sermons and old music that don't speak to my real needs and problems?" A better question might be, "when did we get the idea that church is about us and meeting our felt-needs?"

According to the pastor quoted in a survey of Christians in Leadership magazine, "These days, people can get good teaching, wonderful music, and excellent writing, whether through iPods, TV, or online. They learn to shop around and pick and choose. Then they expect the same high quality in their local church. A generation ago, the average person learned to accept his home pastor and was faithful to his local church. But now, people's appetites for excellence have been heightened." Consumer church is not God's plan brothers and sisters.

God has a beautiful plan for His church- the bride of His Son Jesus. If you're in Christ, you're part of His plan and it's not too late for us to make a difference in America. When we resist that plan and relationship with His church, everyone gets cheated out of God's best.

* We cheat ourselves
* We cheat our community
* We cheat our world.

This week we'll begin a new series on The Body, taking a fresh look at ourselves- the church, it's vision, our mission and role in the world as we prepare to rejoin God in His plan for the world. Come, be prepared and America- beware.

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