The 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln once expressed his concern about the American Republic with this observation:
America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.
Somehow and thankfully, the United States survived the catastrophe of the War Between the States (aka the Civil War) and we are even to this day chugging along but American Christianity appears to be ill
This disease is an illness that includes strife among its members over issues that would best be left outside the door than brought inside it, an illness of malaise and complacency about evangelism and an illness in which we seem to have fallen prey to banality. And banality is the most serious of all the symptoms that could attack our churches and its members.
But what is banality and why do I believe it to be the most serious symptom of what is wrong with American Christianity? Banality can be defined as “devoid as freshness or originality.” We talk about trying new outreaches but then nitpick those who do new things. We talk about young people as being “the future of the church” but either ignore them when they suggest new concepts or tell them in a 1,001 different ways to wait their turn. We talk about the need for “revival in America” but keep inviting the same speakers we have had speak for the last quarter century. Where is the freshness. Where is the originality? Where is the vitality?
Today … I was reading Paul’s first letter to Timothy (3:14-16) and I noticed a few suggestions that we need for today in order that we can avoid banality in American Churches today:
- Remember that believers in Jesus are all family and members of the “household of God.” American Christianity has allowed ourselves to be divided in the 21st Century by politics and issues that are unnecessary and ultimately banal. Most everyone voted in 2016 but The Who you voted for should be left at the front door. Democrats can and should sit by Republicans and vice versa. Our only focus inside the building should be on worshipping the truth of 1 Timothy 3:16. Our only focus outside those doors should be on spreading the Gospel of Jesus to the lost world. All else is banality.
- American churches are to be pillars and foundations of The Truth! Yes, we can have Sanctity of Life messages in January but it should be about bringing hope and TRUTH to the world. Yes, we can defend the biblical definition of marriage but not at the expense of loving TRUTH. If our churches become about politics, they are no longer about The Truth, and they have come banal.
Last week in China, the government destroyed churches and are trying to force Christians to recant their faith. I have relatives (whom I will not name) who are serving their as evangelists. I know where they will be on Sunday … at church proclaiming their faith. For Matthew 16:18 is true and His Church will never fall even if the gates of Hell seek to prevail against it. Can we say the same about the American Church that has become increasingly banal?
What is the cure? We must get out of politics and get back to the work of evangelism? We must shake ourselves of this complacency and banality and care about the lost world again. We must decide it is more important about WHO is in their heart than what t-shirt or tennis shoes they wear. Are we banal or are we the Voice of Truth?