My pastor is currently preaching a series based on the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3, where Jesus praises, encourages, and calls out churches according to their faith and deeds. As he teaches on the churches, highlighting both their strengths and weaknesses, I thought about what the Lord would say to today’s church. Would He commend our churches? Would He call us out? Where in today’s church culture would Jesus call us to account?
My pastor is currently preaching a series based on the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3. As he teaches on the churches, highlighting both their strengths and weaknesses, I thought about what the Lord would say to today’s church. Would He commend our churches? Would He call us out? Where in today’s church culture would Jesus call us to account?
“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.” (1 John 2:16)
In the age of social media platforms that encourage self-promotion, pride in self is encouraged and expected. Self-promotion has even found its way in the church. There are preachers, pastors, prophets, and teachers who promote themselves, their opinions, and their agendas over Jesus Christ. Self-promotion is rooted in pride, and pride exalts and glorifies self. Pride is destructive and pits churches against one another. Pride in our pastor can become competition, exalting one pastor or leader above others. Pride needs to be removed from the body of Christ.
2. Immodest Dress
“Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments.” (1 Timothy 2:9)
As we look around local churches, there doesn’t appear to be much of a difference between the clothing we see in the world and the clothing we see in the sanctuary. Tight, revealing clothing is often as popular in the church as it is in the world. The Bible admonishes women to dress modestly. I won’t attempt to define modest for you as the definition of modest dress is subjective. However, I will say that our clothing should not bring unnecessary attention to our bodies. Christians should seek to glorify and honor God in everything we do, including how we dress. If our dress glorifies and honors ourselves and our bodies, we’re not dressing modestly.
3. Sexual Immorality (Fornication, Homosexuality, Adultery)
“But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints.” (Ephesians 5:3)
Sexual sin is prevalent in the church today. Sexual immorality is widespread in our culture, but it shouldn’t be popular in the local church. Whether it’s fornication, adultery, or homosexuality, these things shouldn’t be normal nor acceptable in the body of Christ.
Our bodies are the temples in which God’s Spirit dwells (see 1 Corinthians 3:16-17). We should keep our temples in a manner that’s pleasing in God’s sight.
4. Love of Money
We need money to pay our bills, bring tithe to the church, and pay for extracurriculars. However, we run into trouble when we grow to love money. Unfortunately, the love of money has infiltrated the church. We now have church leaders who are more compelled by money and the material things it affords than they are to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We need to be vigilant against loving money more than we love God because we’ll obey whoever has our hearts.
5. Taking the Lord’s Name in Vain
“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.” (Exodus 20:7)
“OMG,” “Oh my God”... These words and phrases are as prevalent in the church as they are in the world. Yet, the Lord warned us about taking His name in vain. Christians should be diligent in honoring, reverencing, and respecting God’s name. If we don’t, we can’t expect the world to reverence His name either.
“At the same time they also learn to be idle, as they go around from house to house; and not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention.” (1 Timothy 5:13)
From celebrity gossip to reality television programs, our society is replete with drama and gossip. Unfortunately, gossip and reality tv attitudes are creeping into our churches. Some Christians know more about their favorite celebrities than they do about the Lord Jesus Christ, and they read celebrity gossip more than they read the Bible. Our society encourages readers to know what’s going on and to spread the news as quickly as possible via social media. Gossip needs to be removed from the body of Christ as it is rooted in pride and can cause irreparable damage.
7. The Wrong View of Church
“Not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:25)
From fraternities and sororities to other organizations requiring membership, our society loves being a part of a team. We want to be included in something exclusive. Unfortunately, some Christians view the church as a social club, the place to which they go to see their friends, developing cliques in the process. The church is the house of God and should be viewed as the holy place it is, not a social club we visit only when we're in the mood. While watching some preachers and ministries on television or YouTube is ok, Christians should be faithful in church attendance, using their gifts, talents, and financial resources to edify the local body, and draw closer to community.
8. Music or Media
“So it came about whenever the evil spirit from God came to Saul, David would take the harp and play it with his hand; and Saul would be refreshed and be well, and the evil spirit would depart from him.” (1 Samuel 16:23)
I grew up in the ‘80s and became an adult in the ‘90s. I love music, all types of music. I’m also a firm believer that music influences the soul. As indicated in the above-referenced Scripture, music can refresh us, to make us well, but it can also depress us and make us angry and bitter. Christians who consistently listen to secular music should be mindful of its influence upon their spirits, spirits that then come into the church bringing the music’s influence with them. Secular music that demeans, depresses, or divides doesn’t have any place in the Lord’s house. We are called to praise God through singing. Let’s ensure we are doing so with thanksgiving.
9. Dishonoring Parents
“For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy.” (2 Timothy 3:2)
When my daughter was younger, I sometimes watched sitcoms with her, and I noticed an alarming trend. Parents were missing from the television shows she watched. The children were being raised by either an irresponsible older sibling, an immature babysitter, or even worse, unfocused parents. The children on the shows spoke disrespectfully to their caregivers or didn’t interact with adults at all. On the surface, there didn’t seem to be much of a problem with these shows. However, the more I watched the shows with my daughter, the more I realized these shows were teaching children that they didn’t need responsible adults in their lives, that they could live much more exciting and fun-filled lives without their parents.
As I speak to adults and children, I realize the adult-less themes in these shows have infiltrated the home and the church. Many children across the nation and in the church think they don’t need adults. And so, these children don’t honor nor respect their parents and other adults. Indeed, these children are disobedient to parents because they don’t fear God nor reverence His holy word.
10. Accepting of Sin
We now live in a culture where any and everything goes. Unfortunately, that attitude has snuck into the church, and we now have Christians believing God accepts sin because we accept sin. We accept actions performed by those we like. Some people in today’s church have even gotten to a place where they call evil good and good evil (see Isaiah 5:20). Instead, Christians should wrap their hearts around the word of God, and hold onto it in its truth. We can’t accept sin in our lives nor approve of it in the lives of others. We should obey the Lord in all things, even when doing so is unpopular.
The church, the ekklesia, is made up of people who profess the name of Jesus Christ. These things are only able to creep into the local churches because we allow them to. I’ve been a Christian for about 30 years. I’ve been teaching the Bible and serving in local churches for approximately twenty years. In that time, I’ve sinned, and I’ve seen others sin. I’ve witnessed worldly behaviors, attitudes, and norms displayed in the church, in myself and others. Indeed, Christians should be leaders in godly and holy living. Let’s root out any behaviors that offend a just and holy God. Let’s be holy because He is holy.
Aretha Grant serves her local church as a bible teacher and elder. She loves writing and is the author of Overcomer: 25 Keys to Walking Victoriously. Aretha resides in Hagerstown, MD with her husband and two youngest children. You can read Aretha’s blog at www.arethagrant.com.
Photo Credit: @unsplash/isaac-ordaz