Brother Ron Barnes
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Dear Brother Ron
I was thinking today, on how, not too many centuries ago, Christians met in silence in the woods to worship without making a sound. They did so out of fear of being killed. Nobody stopped to ask who was or wasn't in order. Nobody stopped to ask who was or wasn't living in open sin. They simply met and worshipped.
Has the church made a business of pointing the finger at others instead of remembering the actual purpose of the church? Should the church be standing in judgment or be judged? Should the church be running the "laws" or worshipping quietly in spite of the laws? When you think about the history of the church, how do you answer this?
The people you are talking about were members of a true "church". The word translated in the Bible as "church" is the Greek word "ekklesia", which is a coming together of people. The original Christians came together and formed a church, even though there was no building or organizational structure.
Fast forward two thousand years. We now have churches which are so concerned with politics, budgets, buildings and dogma that the original message of Jesus has gotten lost in the organizational machinery. Many churches are so busy trying to win converts, expand their organization and influence politics, they have lost sight of the message which was so successful in winning the original converts. To win converts, some churches are using a two-pronged strategy.
The first part of this strategy is to appeal to people's egos. Join our church and you will be better than those who have rejected our offer. And since we represent the will of God, as a member of our church, you will be able to pronounce God's judgment on those who refuse to follow God's will as you see it. This is a great ego boost and a very effective recruiting tool.
The second part is to strike fear into those the church wants to convert. They do this by building urgency into the sale. You had better convert now because you may not get another chance. If you die without having accepted our message, you will face eternal torment. This is a very effective sales strategy. Any good salesman will tell you that the fear of loss is always greater than the hope of gain. The churches through the centuries have been very effective in using fear to accomplish their objectives.
Please remember that these statements do not apply
to all churches. There are many which adhere to the original concept of the
ekklesia. Unfortunately, there are many more which have allowed their desire
for institutional growth and social influence to become the dominant factors
in their dogma and their communications. This is unfortunate because it
causes many people to have an unfavorable opinion of all churches, even the
ones who do not deserve it.