The Potential Church
The building isn’t the Church. And we should remember that.
Two years ago, I went to preach a sermon and ended up switching to another sermon just before the deadline. That same day, I regretted being talked into preaching something other than my burden, but perhaps this message was better suited for today.
We live in a diverse world. There are many religions, opinions, and yes, even skin tones. While we, the Church, should stand against false religion, we have taken opinions to be facts and twisted facts to fit our opinions. While the Church doesn’t have an issue with multi-colored skin, some within the Church continue to harbor prejudice that must be rooted out from within their hearts. I, as any preacher, should take issue with professing Christians that refuse to see prejudice among adherents to a pseudo-Christianity.
I brought up three things earlier: religions, opinions, and skin tones. These three have at least one thing in common, though they share much more. They share potential.
People believe/follow religions for a multitude of reasons, yet they all share similar reasons. From my research, you believe and follow because:
- Born into it
- Was at a desperate point in life
- Searching for answers/peace/or something else
Have I summed you up yet? I hope not, but if I have, I’m sorry. I’m sorry that you fit into a category. I also want you to know that it’s okay because I used to fit into a category too.
Most of us that are in religion, any religion, were born into it. We didn’t have a choice on whether we believed or didn’t, at least, not until we got older. Even then, many refuse to look outside the belief for fear the religion might be wrong, or that we might be subjected to eternal flames of damnation for even questioning the matter.
But perhaps you weren’t born into your religion. Perhaps you hit a desperate point in life where you required or wanted something more. Maybe the death of a family member, or a close encounter with death yourself, puts you in the position to look for the supernatural/higher power.
Or, maybe you don’t fit in either of those two categories. Maybe you were searching for love and peace and found religion. Most religions promise a sense of peace, unity among its community, and a life dedicated to serving a higher purpose: God.
In each scenario, three types of people found religion. These people are the potential Church.
The potential Church isn’t part of the Church, yet. That doesn’t mean we should give up on them. Even those that claim to be part of the Church aren’t always fully part of the Church.
It’s sad to see, but many attend church with a desperate feeling, only to leave feeling helpless, misunderstood, unhealed, not helped, etc. Many also think the Church is about the building and people in the building, not the worldwide community of believers. In believing so, they reject other believers and place themselves in an upper-class sense of superiority and believing status.
I once met a woman from Florida. She was a convert to Christianity from Islam after having married an Islamic husband. She told me Islam gave her a sense of peace and unity for about 3 months. Her conversion to Christianity changed all that. She found a greater, longer-lasting sense of peace and unity. But not only that, she wasn’t dangled over hellfire for every trivial matter.
But not all our stories are the same. I didn’t have such a wonderful experience with Christianity as a religion, though I can’t say I might have fared better in other religions. Christianity isn’t only about the teachings of Christ, but it is also a personal experience with God through Christ.
Go beyond religion and you’ll see opinions. Opinions fill the gap between what we know and what we don’t know. Many religious opinions fill the void between interpretation and understanding. It is because of our opinions we lose out on the potential Church. Preachers and teachers fill the gaps of their understanding with opinionated doctrines, which usually turn into legalism. Opinions damn believers with a varying view and shower the indoctrinated adherents with praise.
You could ask a single question to fifty people, yet receive original answers. But if everyone was to accept an opinion, not questioning the view, then you would get cloned responses. Most people don’t even realize they are providing cloned responses. They don’t realize they’ve become indoctrinated. It’s not our job to demand they see themselves for what and who they’ve become. Instead, we have to provide the way out and leave it at that. There needs to always be an option. The potential Church needs to see that there are options.
I’ve always found it strange, the relationship between the Church and the LGBT community. Opinions have reacted strongly to the issue. Some churches, denying scripture and accepting homosexual actions within the church. At the same time, the hardcore churches that participate in gay-bashing and saying hurtful insults and words to their LGBT neighbors (if they even have any). The Bible is clear on the subject. God is against a gay lifestyle, but there is always room in Christ for people, no matter where they’ve been and who they were. To identify with Christ means giving up your old identity. Paul states:
1 Corinthians 6:11 NKJV
And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
There are people within the LGBT community who are the potential Church. We can’t deny that. Preachers like to twist Romans 1 and claim it refers to all gays, but it doesn’t. The context within the verses points to people that completely abandon God, knowing His judgment. Knowing means having knowledge of the particular subject/matter.
Opinion has also reacted, usually wrongfully, to skin color. While Christianity doesn’t take issue with skin color, prejudice people under the guise of Christianity have held and continue to hold hurtful opinions. Imagine being told that white and black/brown people can’t marry each other. Many pastors would excuse their behavior by justifying it by saying they didn’t grow up that way. You can’t justify bigotry. These opinions hurt the Church. How much more was the potential Church hurt by these opinions?
All colors, black, white, brown, maybe a mixture somewhere between two tones, are part of humanity. Humans are one race with varying skin tones. Humans are the potential Church. We can’t look at people who may not share the same skin color or opinion and see them as different from us. They aren’t. They are as human as any human.
There is no segregation in Heaven. There are no black only or white only parts in Heaven. And until we realize that opinions and false senses of religion become obstacles between where we are and where we need to be, they will still cause damage to the potential Church. It starts with me. It starts with you.