If we, as the church, just ignore this, it will go away, right?

ostrich hiding its head under sand to protect it from strong wind“Ignoring is not the path to redeeming.” This quote comes from Wesley Hill.

If you don’t know him, let me introduce you. He is an assistant professor of Biblical Studies at Trinity School for Ministry in Pennsylvania. He’s written a book titled, Washed and Waiting, Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality. 

This is not a post on homosexuality. It’s much bigger than that.

In the book, Hill confronts this enormous issue in a highly redemptive manner. He confronts tired cliches and shoots down silver bullet solutions. He shares the experience of noteworthy Christian leaders as well as his own. And he offers a redemptive way forward for both individuals and the Church. Simply put, Hill does not ignore the issue.

The conversation I’m wanting to start today is asking the Church what issues are we ignoring? Where may we be standing in the way of God’s redemptive efforts rather than helping? What do we need to stop ignoring and start addressing?

shoved-head-into-sandThe temptation to ignore is great. I feel it most often as a dad. One son hits the other. The inner monologue starts, I didn’t just see that. Because if I did, I’d have to address it. But if I didn’t then I don’t. In that moment ignoring is more appealing than confronting. But it doesn’t help my kids. Ignoring isn’t the path to redeeming for them.

And I’m eternally grateful that ignoring wasn’t the path Christ took. Can you imagine?

God the Father: I’m sending you into the world.

God the Son: Great.

God the Father: You are to lead, teach, and serve. You will heal the sick. You will raise the dead. Many people will choose to follow you.

God the Son: Check.

God the Father: You will die a horrific death on a cross on account of the sins of the people in order to redeem them.

God the Son. Wait. What sin?

It’s comical when stated that way. But every Christian is eternally indebted to Christ for not ignoring. Our path to redemption is paved by Christ who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

And what I’m not desiring is a belligerent church. Right? This is the brand of Christianity that can’t wait to confront. They love the blistering sound bite. They live to invoke the name of God against the heathens. They don’t ignore. That’s for sure. But it’s hard to imagine much (any?) redemption coming from this approach.

reality-keySo, what does the Church need to stop ignoring?

This could be things happening within the Church. Two that come to mind for me are the exodus of young people leaving the American Church and the Bible as absolute truth.

It could also be issues happening outside the Church. What do you believe are the issues, such as poverty, happening in our world that the Church needs to stop ignoring?

What can we, all of us together, address in order to share in God’s redemption work? Because ignoring is not the path to redeeming.

Please share your valuable thoughts!

 

Posted on by Cor in FAITH

8 Responses to If we, as the church, just ignore this, it will go away, right?

  1. Chris Eriksen

    Hey Cor, thanks for this. We surely are ignoring things in the church. We are sinful in what we do and in what we leave undone. Your suggestion of what the church is ignoring is significant.

    The Bible as absolute truth. Is the bible absolute truth, or is it a reflection, as through a glass dimly, of the Word incarnate? The Bible absolutely contains, in part, the truth. However given that absolute truth is a being which we in our humanness are incapable of knowing fully, out grasp of that truth will be finite, limited.

    The truth we have access to has our feeble attempts at epistemology and hermeneutics as limits. Most of the church has stopped sending our women to the edge of the village during their period. We have decided using hermeneutics, reason, logic, and epistemology that much of the old law no longer applies to us. Some of the church has decided that some of Paul’s admonitions are no longer applicable.

    I am not a relativist. I believe that there is absolute truth. However, our humanity is incapable of knowing it fully. This is why I encourage theological humility. God’s grace is there to cover all our inadequacies including the Hermeneutic and Epistemological ones. For those who have arrived at various positions on controversial issues, or non-controversial ones. If and when we learn that we are wrong on one point or another, there will be grace for that.

    I don’t call it ignoring. I call it trust that grace is real.

  2. Ryan S

    Cor – I agree with your two issues. The other two issues that come to my mind:

    1) How to respond to the cultural opposition…or How to live as Christians in Babylon. Maybe we’ve always been in Babylon, but it has never seen so evident. The issue isn’t necessarily new, but it’s certainly strongly than ever before (and doesn’t seem to be ending). There is a real hostility towards Christians that is ever-increasing and we need to think through how to respond lovingly.

    2) How to remain fixated on God in a world of distractions. We live in a world that is so saturated with technology, media, and pornography that I think it absolutely overtakes many of us in the church. Paul said he “resolved to know nothing…except Jesus Christ and him crucified” but we can’t go 5 seconds without something beeping at us. I think we need to think harder about what it means to live faithfully in this environment. I also think this is directly related to Cor’s two issues. I think a big reason young people are leaving the church is they are too distracted and too drawn away by things that are not God. Additionally, I think people reject the idea of truth because the postmodern world is more concerned with what feels good and what entertains, than with what is right and wrong…and maybe we are losing the ability to think deeply about these things because we are too distracted.

    God Bless.

  3. Emily

    I think the topic of sex absolutely fits this category!

    The belligerent Church has done a really good job of communicating that sex is bad and sinful – and it has caused a lot of confusion, hurt, and scars for Christians (and non-Christians) who have only heard this message.

    I would love to see the Church communicate that sex is God-created and it is good in the parameters in which God gives it to us. Simply saying sex is bad and sinful is the easy way out (it’s burying our head in the sand so we don’t have to talk about something so uncomfortable). In a culture that sex-ifies pretty much anything, I think the Church needs to be a strong voice that advocates for healthy sex. Instead of communicating sex is bad and don’t have sex until your married (with no explanation), we can be talking about what sex is and is not, why it is so important to wait until marriage to have sex, and how God created sex to be good. The Church can be an example and start conversations about what it means to allow sex to have a healthy place in our thoughts and marriages instead of making it out to be something shameful and embarrassing or going the way of culture and making sex so many things that it is not.

  4. Nathan Z

    I think a topic often avoided is why Sunday mornings continue to be one of the most racially segregated times of the week. Unfortunately I have seen some churches unintentionally turn “diversity” into their gospel, so I’m not quite sure what the answer is.

  5. Rosie

    Cor, I agree with your two issues you mentioned, and I also agree with Ryan S. on responding to cultural opposition and remaining fixated on God among all the distractions of the world. I feel like those kind of dovetail into two of the issues I thought of which are Christian worldview in our culture and teaching apologetics in the Church. The other issue that I rarely see addressed other than in passing is spiritual warfare and what that practically looks like for our daily walk.

  6. Vicki

    Your two examples of what we are ignoring in the church are very interesting choices. Mainly b/c I think the main reason young people are leaving the church is because the church is down playing absolute truth. So many American churches have watered down the truth to reach the masses – and I really think that is what making young people leave.

  7. Matt Heutinck

    I thought of a word for it after listening to Drew’s sermon on Sunday.

    Tribalism

    So, have been going to a different church for the last several months, and, intermittently come back to Hope. I noticed things that you don’t notice when they’re there all of the time. One thing is, the rapport building part of the sermon. Where the pastor sort of builds an identity to let you know where he’s coming from.

    Here is what I though about as I was blessed with a broken MP3 player for my run on Sunday. If Drew, Cor, and Steve were the same age, and went to high school together, they’d sit at different tables at lunch.

    Drew with the video gamers, and math team. Cor would be with the athletes. Steve would be outside sneaking cigarettes in his buddy’s car. lol

    The temptation is, that when we learn Christ is for us, we want to think that he is one of our tribe, or circle. That, he’d eat at our table at lunch.

    This manifests itself in church. Are you an urban church? Rural? Suburban? Families? Old people? Students? Traditional worship? Contemporary worship? Black church? White church?

    Christ doesn’t sit at any of our tables. He picks a table in the middle of the room, and invites everyone to come to his table.

  8. Katie D.

    I agree, apologetics + Bible as absolute truth, and understanding WHY young people are leaving the church. Youth ministry would be especially important to re-examine. High school to college transition seems to be one of the highest rates at which young people leave the church and I believe it might have a lot to do with how our youth ministry programs are structured and the lack of apologetics and “real world” experience/exposure, along with the study of apologetics. If our young people only understand the WHAT and not the WHY of Christianity, their worldview will be shattered when they step outside of their bubble. Deep study of the Bible and digesting it and being able to explain it back to people really matters for our personal growth and outreach. I have no idea what Hope’s youth ministry looks like so I can’t speak specifically to that but generally this seems to be a pattern in a lot of Church’s that are trying so hard to relate to the culture that the youth are a part of but they leave some important things behind in their attempt to do that. My husband and I recently listened to some of the podcasts from White Horse Inn, the two that were relevant to this were “keeping our kids part 1 and 2″ they are free and they are awesome!
    https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/white-horse-inn/id356920632?mt=2

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