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JOHN PEARRELL: It seems a troubled culture has managed to silence, stymie the church

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

"Whose fault is it?" With those words the blame game begins. We see it in childish arguments, we see it in current politics (almost a little redundant) and we see it in culture in general. Instead of looking for real solutions, it seems that we are fixated on identifying who is to blame for any particular problem.

Certainly a part of any solution is identifying the problem and then moving to correct it. But it seems that in our current culture we are content with fixing the blame on someone or something while ignoring the problem. This mentality is never more deadly than when it comes to the church. If what we say we believe is true, the consequences are eternal.

Who's to blame for the mess we find ourselves in? Those of us in the church often point to the culture or we point to those who have a different political bent than we happen to hold. The prevailing, "It's their fault," mentality I fear is nothing more than a salve to ease our excuses for inactivity.

The culture is going to do what the culture does. If the Bible is true (and I believe it is), the culture functions under the direction of the prince of this world (see John 14:30) and as such, it is going to do what comes natural to it. Why does that always seem to surprise us?

Solomon reminds us, "What has happened before will happen again. What has been done before will be done again. There is nothing new in the whole world. 'Look,' they say, 'Here is something new!' But no, it has all happened before, long before we were born." (Ecclesiastes 1:9-10, GNT).

The great tragedy I find in churches today is we seem to be either wringing our hands in worry, perhaps thinking that God has somehow lost control of things, or we are pointing our fingers in accusation, shaking our heads with a "Tsk, tsk" but doing absolutely nothing to address the ills we condemn.

If the early church had responded to the culture of their day the way the modern church is responding to our culture, Christianity would have died in the cradle! In the earliest days of the church 120 people managed to turn the world of their day upside down. Today it seems a troubled culture has managed to silence and stymie the church.

Someone once observed that whenever we point a finger at another, we have three fingers pointing back at ourselves. We can say what we want, but pointing fingers has not worked well for the church. The Bible reminds us that when (not if, but when) God's judgment comes, it will begin in the church (see 1 Peter 4:17).

The Greek word for church is a word that means "called out ones." In the culture of the day the word was used of the legislative groups who were chosen from the city/states to represent the people and to enact laws for the benefit of the people -- much like our Congress today.

If we carry this thought in the context of the church as Jesus defined it, we are not merely a group of people who get together for encouragement and fellowship and in some cases social work, we are a body through which the King of Heaven legislates his laws.

The reason our culture is in the mess it is in today is because the church has abdicated her true role. We respond to everything; we seldom are the trendsetters we are called to be.

In Ephesians 3:10-12 it appears that we in the church might have something horribly backwards. It appears that while we tend to wait on God to work, God, in fact, is waiting on us to work far more than we are waiting on him.

We are to be active in transforming our culture and we need to face the fact that if the culture is winning, the church is not being the church. The words of the song are appropriate: it is not "them" who are in need of prayer, it is us who are in need of prayer.

Dr. John Pearrell is pastor of Gateway Community Church in Covington. For more information, visit the Gateway website at www.gatewaycommunity.org.