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{October 31, 2011}   Church is Irrelevant (so says us)

In his article Dean Seddon asserts that that contemporary society has branded the Church as irrelevant, and (as sad as I am to say it) I believe that he’s right.  I’d take the assertion a step further and argue that not only does society brand the Church as irrelevant, but it also labels it as a hindrance, something which holds us back (at the best) and as something which hides from humanity the darker elements of itself (here I think of the sad cases of child abuse within the Church and conspiracy theories such as were popularised in the Dan Brown books).

** interestingly the Dan Brown books are still on my ‘to be read’ list of books, I’ve seen the first movie but not read the books as yet **

Society may be a rebellious child shouting at ‘the Church’ and straining at the leash to be free.  “You stop our fun!  You hate sex!  You hate gays!  You hate women!”

Society believed it had killed God many years ago, and now it’s trying to stamp on the grave…

 

Do you ever have a quiet giggle to yourself over the danger of this strategy?  It is a little like poking the sleeping lion (or perhaps the sleeping mummy after you’ve kept waking her up every 40 minutes overnight!)

God isn’t dead…

And God is watching!

 

I remember a rather long but amusing joke I heard a few years ago…

There’s this burglar who breaks into a warehouse one night.  The burglar’s made a plan, he knows when the night watchman has his break, knows where the cameras are… all those shenanigans. 

So he’s padding gently about, looking for things to steal and sell on.  Then he here’s this voice, “Jesus is watching you!”  The thief turns round, but there’s nobody there, so he continues and a few minutes later he hears it again, “Jesus is WATCHING you!”

The burglar’s getting more than a little twitchy now and wonders whether he should get out of the place right then and there.  He hears the voice again, “Jesus is watching you!” and he begins to suspect someone is winding him up, so he replies “who are you?  Where are you?”

“Behind you, over here!” The burglar strains to see where the voice is coming from, he certainly hasn’t heard anyone else come into the building.  “Who are you?” he asks, to which he hears a reply close to his left ear “Moses!”  The thief whirls round to see a parrot on a perch in the darkness.  He chuckles to himself and says “that’s an odd name for a parrot!”

The parrot responds, “not as funny as ‘Jesus’ is for a rottweiller!”

 

Perhaps the question to ask of society’s attempt to brand the Church as irrelevant poses some important questions…

  • Who / what do they believe the Church to be?

I personally see the Church far more as a group of people, a family – Church provides me with love, support, guidance, friendship, fun among many other things.  “Church” to me is no more the building or an institution any more than a school is the building.  One of the oddest experiences as a new teacher is to be in school at the start of a year; there are no pictures on the wall, no displays of work, chatter of children… the atmosphere is entirely different.  Creating a good and positive learning environment is one of those things I constantly work towards – and I view the Church in a similar way.  Church is the smile from the welcoming team, the chat while getting tea & squash, making plans for Christmas, charity (we’re supporting the Christmas Child shoebox thing), thinking ahead to the summer.  Church is praying for those we care about, for those ‘in the Church’ and outside the Church… Church is so many things which cannot be contained in a negative newspaper article!

No one abuses his own body, does he? No, he feeds and pampers it. That’s how Christ treats us, the church, since we are part of his body. And this is why a man leaves father and mother and cherishes his wife. No longer two, they become “one flesh.” This is a huge mystery, and I don’t pretend to understand it all. What is clearest to me is the way Christ treats the church. And this provides a good picture of how each husband is to treat his wife, loving himself in loving her, and how each wife is to honour her husband. [Ephesians 5.29]

  • Why do they want Church to be irrelevant

Things which are branded ‘irrelevant’ are not considered important.  The rain pouring down is irrelevant in my decision to go to work, it’s not important enough to stop me… that’s compared with perhaps my daughter being poorly and needing alternative childcare or a trip to the doctor.

Society wants Church branded irrelevant because then they can ignore it, they can ignore what Jesus did (WWJD is just some cheesy Christian wristband isn’t it?), they can demote God to a swear word.

There should be a consistency that runs through us all. For Jesus doesn’t change—yesterday, today, tomorrow, he’s always totally himself. [Hebrews 18:8]

God, and Jesus and faith and all that – well that’s something to turn to when you’ve had your fun.  When you’re old, and about to die.  It’s not relevant to today – the Bible was written all those years ago!

“Up on your feet! Take a deep breath! Maybe there’s life in you yet. But I wouldn’t know it by looking at your busywork; nothing of God’s work has been completed. Your condition is desperate. Think of the gift you once had in your hands, the Message you heard with your ears—grasp it again and turn back to God. “If you pull the covers back over your head and sleep on, oblivious to God, I’ll return when you least expect it, break into your life like a thief in the night. [Revelation 3:2]

Today I think I’ll take some time out in the evening, against the backdrop of All Hallows Eve to pray for those who don’t yet recognise Jesus in their lives… because it is a matter of life or death.

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Hannie says:

I love this song 🙂



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