In our youth meetings, I want to start a news series called “The Church” to explain why and how the church is relevant for the 21st Century person, especially for the one who seems to have everything that he needs and wants. I want to challenge young people to be a part of the church and as the church, impact their communities (places where they live out their daily lives, their spheres of influence).
We live in an age of instantaneous gratification. When people need information, they have Google at their fingertips. If they want to reconnect with old friends, they have Facebook at their disposal. If they are hungry, there are fast food restaurants on every street corner. The list just goes on and on. Yet, at the same time, we live in an age when depression runs rampant. Why is that? How is it that we can have instant gratification and depression together in the same society? It seems like an oxymoron. The reason is because people are moving further and further away from the church (from a genuine relationship with God). Mankind has a problem and the church is God’s answer. The reason that many people do not know about God’s solution is because of the warped understanding of the divine. If we have divine questions then we need divine answers. The only place that we can find divine answers is from the Divine, God.
People were created to have a personal relationship with God but we messed up
God created a perfect world with perfect people. He gave them free will to choose to love and obey Him or not love Him through disobedience. Mankind was created to commune with God. Mankind was created to live in such a way as to give a direct reflection of God’s character, through his lifestyle. Mankind made a mistake and sin entered into the world changing everything. We no longer give a direct reflection of who God is by our lifestyles. We have a problem . . .
People are damaged goods because of sin
We are broken in a spiritual sense. We no longer have a relationship with God even though we have the desire (even if we cannot quite put our finger on it or articulate it). We need help. We cannot restore our relationship with God by ourselves. The Bible describes what a sinner is like (damaged goods).
This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should not walk from now on as other nations walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart. For they, being past feeling, have given themselves up to lust, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and were taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus. For you ought to put off the old man (according to your way of living before) who is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind. And you should put on the new man, who according to God was created in righteousness and true holiness. Therefore putting away lying, let each man speak truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. Be angry, and do not sin. Do not let the sun go down upon your wrath, neither give place to the Devil. Let him who stole steal no more, but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, so that he may have something to give to him who needs. Let not any filthy word go out of your mouth, but if any is good to building up in respect of need, that it may give grace to the ones hearing. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you are sealed until the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and tumult and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:17-32)
Here is a list of why we need the church so that we can be restored to a right relationship with God. As sinners without a relationship with God we are:
- Being corrupted
- full of wrath
- full of anger
- full of malice (wickedness)
- idol worshipers (trying to fill that God sized hole in our hearts with something other than God, it does not satisfy)
- vanity of mind
We are destroying ourselves by our lifestyles when we do not have a relationship with God. We get bitter at the world because we cannot fill that void in our hearts. Because of the bitterness we experience anger towards others but also toward God. We are wicked. We do bad things that end up causing us not only to hurt others but also ourselves. That void does not go away (that God sized hole in our lives) so we try to fill it with other things; money, power, position, “toys”, gadgets, family, friends, sexual experiences, fame, good works, merit badges etc. In the end, we are still bitter and continue destroying ourselves. Maybe you have your mind made up that you are not the problem. It is everyone else who is messed up. That is where vanity of mind comes in the picture. You cannot see reality as it is because you have deceived yourself in your vanity, actually believing that you are okay and everyone else is messed up. Is any of this ringing a bell? Is this exactly how you are living your life? Does it seem as if someone has been in your mind recording your thoughts? This is the way all human beings are, even the ones who live in the 21st Century with all of its instant gratifications. The good news is, it will get better but the bad news is, that it must get worse first. Not only do we self destruct but we also destroy others. The previous text describes sins against others as well. God created us to commune with Him and with others. Because of sin, we lost our relationship with Him and end up hurting others instead of communing with them.
- we deceive others (take advantage of them)
- we are vain (seeing ourselves as being better than others)
- we lie (half the truth is a lie, white lies count too)
- we steal (this is seen in many ways, we steal time from our companies when we are not working like we should, we steal people’s innocence in so many ways and forms)
- we cut others up with our words (the tongue has the power of life and also death)
- we are unforgiving, holding a grudge forever
There is another text I would like to point out to show how we treat each other when we do not have a relationship with God, when we have nothing to do with the Church.
Now the works of the flesh are clearly revealed, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lustfulness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, fightings, jealousies, angers, rivalries, divisions, heresies, (Gal 5:19-20)
The list continues as so:
- adultery (there is always a victim when adultery is committed)
- fights with others
- jealous of what others have (I hope his new iPhone get dropped in the toilet because I do not have one)
- rivalries (one small group against another small group)
- divisions (you are not like I am so stay away from me)
Do you treat others like this? Do others treat you like this? We are not supposed to treat each other this way. We were not created to act this way but because we are not part of the church and restored to a right relationship with God then we have what we have.
God’s solution: Jesus Christ and the Church
God has an answer to all of mankind’s problems. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ to die on the cross to pay the price for our sins so that our relationship to God could be restored.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
But as many as received Him [Jesus], He gave to them authority to become the children of God, to those who believe on His name, (John 1:12)
For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One [Jesus] shall many be made righteous [right with God and with people]. (Rom 5:19)
Then, Jesus Christ formed the Church, through which the Good News of His dying for our sins and restoring our relationship with God could be taken to the broken people of this damaged world.
And Simon Peter answered and said, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus answered and said to him, You are blessed, Simon, son of Jonah, for flesh and blood did not reveal it to you, but My Father in Heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:16-18)
In this passage, the rock or foundation on which the Church will be built is the statement, “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God“. That message is what will transform people’s lives and restore their relationships with God. As relationships are restored with God, people begin to join in the community of the church and learn how to live with one another, treating each other the way that God intended from the very beginning. In Ephesians 4:17-32, for all of the negative descriptions of mankind before his relationship is restored with God, we have a description of what he is like after having his relationship with God restored.
- No longer being corrupted by thoughts and actions
- Now your mind is being renewed (made better and better) constantly
- No longer deceive yourself
- Right with God which leads to being right with man
- No longer deceive others (take advantage of them, use them for your own selfish benefits)
- You speak the truth with your neighbor (the people around you)
- Work to be able to help others instead of stealing from them
- Encourage and build up others through your words (learn to say nice things, good things to and about others)
- You will become tenderhearted (you feel with others, hurt when they hurt, cry when they cry, rejoice when they rejoice)
- You will be kind to others (helping them instead of hurting them, serving them instead of taking advantage of them)
- You will want to forgive others and you WILL forgive others
All the jealousy, fighting, and rivalries are put away. The clicks are also destroyed. We become a true family, loving each other and learning how to love the world around us. Our desire becomes to serve instead of being served. We want to take the message of the Gospel to all so that they can be transformed as well.
So, as we have seen, there is a huge need for the church in our modern world because mankind is broken, damaged goods. The church has the message of salvation and transformation which restores our relationship with God and helps us connect and build relationships with others. Are you searching for something in this life yet cannot quite figure out what it is? How are your relationships with others? Are you constantly in conflict wondering why everyone else is so messed up and not perfect like you? Have you experienced what the church has to offer, restoration with God? Are you learning how to serve others and build relationships with them?