Christian Churches in China must hang pictures of Mao Zedong next to the cross. Read more here.
True Story: the church I attended when I was a teenager had been added on to many times, and so it had two sanctuaries, an old one that seated maybe 100 people and a newer one perhaps three times as large. The congregation met in the older, smaller building when attendance was expected to be down.
The church sat in the countryside, but there happened to be two homes directly across the road. One of the families who lived across the road attended regularly – or, I should say, the wife and kids did. The man of the house bragged that his life was such a mess that, if he ever walked through the church doors, the roof would cave in.
So one winter day, when services were being held in the older, smaller, and not-so-well maintained sanctuary, the man crossed the street to join his wife and children at church. The very second he walked into the foyer, the false ceiling collapsed on his head.
No one was hurt, and everyone got a good laugh, and he did stay for the entire service. I am unsure, though, if he ever felt compelled to give his heart to Christ.
Here is what people fail to understand about God’s love. He loves you as you are. You don’t have to clean up your life before you give it to God. Christ says in Luke 5:32:
“I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (NIV).
Are you addicted to porn? Christ is calling you.
Are you a liar and thief? Christ is calling you.
Do you have an uncontrollable temper? Christ is calling you.
Are you hated by everyone who knows you? Christ knows you better than anyone and He loves you. He’s calling you.
Are you drowning in an alternative lifestyle? Christ is calling you.
Christ loves us as we are. He proves it in this way: even while we are full of filthy sin, He died for us… to rescue us from that sin… and from death (Roman’s 5:8, paraphrased).
Worried that the roof will cave in if you step inside a church? Don’t worry. Come anyway. Come as you are, and give all your sins and worries to God.
The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life. – Revelation 22:17 NIV
Here is an email from one of our faithful readers in the U.S.:
Dear Christian Holiness Daily,
I have seen a decline in holiness preaching over the past 30 years. There is very little emphasis placed on how the Holy Spirit works in our lives in empowering us to live above sin. The church we attend now is wonderful but I think there has only been one time that I have heard the word sanctification, sin, salvation, saved, holiness, or Holy Spirit over the last year! This is not an exaggeration. In years gone by, every Sunday morning service ended with an open altar.
The changes I’ve seen seem to be pulling our denomination away from its roots in the message of holiness. The preachers who used to preach holiness are either retired or passed away. The younger ones ‘teach’ but don’t preach. I guess they each have their own style, but I feel like I’m attending a college pep rally followed by a college seminar on generalized topics. Sorry if this sounds like I’m complaining or ranting. I’m just really concerned.
Do you see the same things in your church?
Here is what we’d like her to know:
Dear Southern Gal,
I am fortunate that I go to a church where the pastor still preaches holiness. But, your letter actually addresses two very important and timely issues, and I see a third issue that stems from those two. Your first question is, do I see many pastors abandoning the message of holiness. Your second question is, do I see many pastors that still “preach?”
Like you, I see a great number of pastors and evangelists who no longer preach that Christians can draw on the power of the Holy Spirit to live above sin. I’m sad to say that I am not surprise that you rarely hear the doctrine of holiness preached in your church.
I, too, see a great number of ministers whose priority seems to be to entertain their congregations. God’s Word seems to come in second place behind professional performances. Some ministers, it seems, would rather rely on talent than the Spirit. They would rather appeal to the congregation’s egos and emotions than their hearts. As you adeptly word it, they would rather give a “pep rally” than an altar call. Because of this trend (and many others), many believers – including myself – fear that the Church in America may soon be unrecognizable.
This is the third issue I see in your letter: Is there hope for the Church in America?
Honestly, I don’t know. I fear that the Church in America has been marginalized so much, and has so forgotten what it means to be a Christian, that its immediate future seems relegated to a cultural minority, devoid of spiritual power. America’s only hope is a true revival on a national level, and soon.
Here, though, is the hope for the Church found within the tragedy. From what I see and hear from my readers, the decline of Christianity is limited to parts of the western world. I hear of revivals and growth in India, Pakistan, and Malaysia. The church is strong in the Philippines, Nigeria, Argentina, Columbia, Syria, Lebanon and other parts of the Middle East. The Church in America may be in decline, but it is on the rise elsewhere.
Fear Not. The Christian Church will never die, for God always has a people. The Church is alive and well.