Do you ever get enticed into a conversation about something you later feel kind of yucky about?
It happened to me recently.
I met someone who wanted to talk about politics right away.
He told me his take on Donald Trump and why he wouldn’t be voting for him — unless his vote was actually the deciding vote, in which case he said he would vote for him (I didn’t understand his logic… but it made sense to him).
Anyway, I’m a sucker for political and philosophical talk (I don’t like admitting that, but it’s true), so I engaged with him in discussion.
So after my new friend told me about Trump he proceeded to say a phrase that I’ve also uttered many times before:
“Do you know what’s wrong with the church?”
It doesn’t really matter what he said after that (if you’re curious he said the main problem is that we’ve tried to argue social issues based on what the Bible says vs using logic and reason.)
We bantered back and forth until I finally got my turn to tell him “what I thought was wrong with the church” (which was that we’ve neglected to transform the 7 Mountains of Influence in culture like the media, the entertainment industry, etc.).
I thought about our conversation later and realized what was really wrong with the church.
Do you know what it is?
I’ll tell you…
What’s really wrong with the church is saying, “here’s what’s really wrong with the church.”
Newsflash: We Are the Church
The ironic thing about criticizing the church is that we are the church!
It’s the same reason why it’s so weird to criticize our government because if you’re a U.S. citizen you live in a government of the people, for the people.
So the moment we separate ourselves from the government or the church we’re essentially saying, “I’m not part of that thing over there. But I can tell you what’s wrong with it.”
By doing this we elevate ourselves to the role of judge and jury and remove ourselves from being an active participant in the very thing we have the power and authority to change!
(Side note: Isn’t it funny how we never focus our water cooler talks on what’s wrong with us? “Do you know what’s really wrong with me? Let me tell you..”).
Now I’m not suggesting that’s any better. That would just make us feel condemned and powerless (hmm… could this be why the church feels so condemned and powerless too?).
So what should we do?
…especially if there really are problems with the church that drive us nuts?
If You Can See What’s Wrong Don’t Stop There!
I believe people who are overly critical have a gift. It’s called the gift of criticism! 🙂
But seriously, I do believe people who are super critical have a gift that the enemy has perverted for his own purposes.
Those who are gifted in discernment and the prophetic (which to some degree we all are) are more susceptible to being critical when they’re not walking in the fullness of their gifts.
For example, let’s say you pray for someone and can “see” things that are not right in the person’s life. In the moment you have a choice:
1. You can either call out what’s wrong with them and tell the person to repent.
2. You can look a little deeper and call out the gold that’s in them.
In other words you can either focus on what God is doing and who they really are. Or on what God’s not doing and the sin in their life.
It’s the same way when you look at the church. You can “discern” what’s wrong but if you stop there you’re stopping short.
This is part of the maturing process we must go through.
It’s why Hebrews 5:14 says, “But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”
Did you catch that?
It says we must learn to discern both good and evil. Not just evil.
3 Ways To Stop Tearing Down and Start Building Up
So how do we do this?
How can we grow up and stop acting like powerless armchair quarterbacks who point out the mistakes our team makes?
Here are three ideas:
1. Start identifying as “the church” and stop talking about the church as if it’s something separate from you.
2. Focus on what is good about the church (and not just your church. Think of a church you disagree with and find at least ONE good thing to meditate on about that church).
3. The next time you get mad because you feel the church isn’t doing something right (or is doing something wrong), take time to bring that before the Lord and ask Him to show you His plan for that issue. In other words, practice discerning what is “good.”
I’m writing this to myself as much as I am to you. Like I said, I enjoy political and philosophical talks a little too much.
And the critical spirit is definitely something I’ve wrestled with over the years. So I hope to practice what I preach and take steps towards being someone who can discern good as well as evil.
What about you? Is this something you’ve struggle with or have had victory in? Please leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you.