Is Your Church OK with These Sins?

Originally published Monday, 24 August 2015.

I hate chiggers. They love me. If you’ve never had the joy of encountering these nearly invisible beasts, be very glad. The tiny pests like to hunker down in tight spots on your clothes. Once there, they inject an enzyme into your skin cells that makes them into a cellular milkshake, which they then slurp up.

But that’s actually not the worst part. Because you’re very unlikely to notice the mites, you don’t realize you’ve even been feasted upon—until a few days later. That’s when you find these tiny bumps that start off with just a small itch before turning into a raging scratch-fest.

According to young adult minister Frank Powell, the church has its own “chigger problem” that we’re not paying attention to. In particular, he says that there are 9 “acceptable sins” that are lurking in our pews, and we must deal with them—otherwise, the damage will be great later.

1. Fear

Although the Bible comes jam-packed with admonitions for us not to be afraid, we Christians tend to be a fearful lot. We’re too petrified to make decisions, he says, or to step into dangerous situations, which isn’t what God intended. Instead, God’s love should compel us by casting out all fear (1 John 4:18).

2. Apathy

We have no passion about our relationship with God. Our entitlement culture has led us to take His love for granted. No passion = no salt and light:

“I mean, think about it. How many Christians have you met that left you thinking, ‘Wow, I want to be like them?’ But this should be the norm, right? Am I way off here? Shouldn’t you be so transformed by God that people want to ask about your life, even if they hate God?”

3. Gluttony

Gluttony isn’t about weight or even food as much as it is about a heart condition. We want more, and we take more because we’re trying to fill the void that God is supposed to fill. Unfortunately, we’re not keeping our eyes on Jesus, which is what we truly need.

4. Worry

We Christians are addicted to worry. Because we become convinced that we can do things on our own, we try to maintain a false image of control. But we weren’t meant to bear this weight—God is the one who is supposed to take care of us:

“You see, worrying is symptomatic of a larger issue… lack of faith. And for followers of Jesus whose primary mission is to show the glory and nature of God to the world, worrying is a problem.”

5. Flattery

While we are supposed to give honor where honor is due (Romans 13:7), Powell says that our problem is that we’re hooked on the praise of people. Our social media culture allows us to seek and give affirmation instantly. But we’re supposed to be after God’s approval—not likes and hearts and comments.

6. Comfort

We like things to stay the way we like them. But we can’t reach a changing culture if we make our comfort into an idol. When that happens, minor differences of opinion on secondary matters become reasons to fight.

7. Consumerism

According to Powell, we Christians have become something like Cookie Monster on Sesame Street. We want more and gobble it all down. But Jesus showed us a better way in giving and serving—not taking.

8. Patriotism

While we can be glad for where we live, our allegiance should always be in one place: “Celebrate American values. That’s great. But, at the end of the day, your citizenship is not with America. It’s in heaven.”

9. Lying

In our culture, lying is fine as long as you don’t get caught. We don’t even pay attention to it anymore. But God calls us to live up to a higher standard. Our word should always be good—so much so that you don’t have to use any extra words, such as “I swear,” when you make a promise.

The Bible calls us to be a “peculiar people,” those who are set apart by our love and commitment to Christ. In a related article on Crosswalk, Debbie McDaniel explains what this looks like from Psalm 1. Here’s one of her 7 signs:

He keeps himself from evil - He ‘does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers…’ v. 1 - He has a walk of integrity, humility, dependence upon God, and lives a life of self-control.  He chooses to set himself apart from sin, temptation, or those who walk contrary to God’s ways. He knows the importance of surrounding himself with those who challenge him in truth and makes wise choices for living.”

Your turn. What sins do you see hiding in our churches? Do you think Powell is right in the ones he’s calling out?

John UpChurch serves as the senior editor for