On Wednesday nights I teach a class called, “Bridges.” The purpose of the class is to ‘build a bridge’ between the Scripture passage we will be studying in upcoming services and people’s everyday lives (I actually had one person tell me they weren’t going to come because they don’t play Bridge…but I digress).
We are studying the book of Acts for the Pentecost Season and one of the things that stands out is that the early Christians got in trouble with the locals often because of saying “no” to many things. They were often run out of town too! I then asked the class what we say “no to today. How do we challenge the society around us? The universal opinion was that we say “no” to things that no one would object to at all today. We say “no” to hunger. We say “no” to homelessness. We say “no” to people having to struggle with mental and physical health issues alone . Agreed. We need to say, “no” to all these things. But who would say “yes” to any of that anyway?
One gentleman said, “We say no to war.” I could only partially agree with him. While the church does say ‘no’ to war conceptually, I don’t see churches condemning any current wars (ours or any others going on in the world at this time). Another said, “Well, some Presbyterian churches have said, “no” to the PC(USA) and left for the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.” I could only partially agree again. He was right, they did say ‘no’, but their doing so made them more popular, not less so, with the culture that surrounded them.
What should the church say “No” to in our society? How should we challenge the world around us today? This is just my personal opinion but here are three places to start:
a. Sports. We have made sports into an idol to worship. I love football. I celebrated when the Saints won the Superbowl. I enjoy Hornets games, LSU games, and follow the Cincinnati Reds. But when sports eclipses worship and family – it is an idol. People plan their lives around sporting events (professional, college, and little league) the way they used to plan around worship and community involvement. Any good thing can become sinful when it is given inordinate priority in one’s life. Sports is a place we do this frequently in our society.
b. Violence. If I ever hear parents complaining about an “R” rated movie or a video game – it always has to do with sex. Sex is objectionable in our society. Violence? We look the other way, even in the church today. There are video games sold to teens daily in our malls that go far and beyond simply shooting someone. Torture is a part of these games. Genocide is a part of these games. Do we believe this will really have no effect on the adults of tomorrow? When is the last time a church stood up and called this sin?
c. Gambling. There was a time when the church was strong enough in our society to make gambling illegal in most communities. Now, I would venture that most Christians in churches today could hardly enunciate why any Christian would object to gambling. When there is so much need in our world today, to squander money on gambling is not only designed for people who don’t understand basic statistics, but it is also morally wrong.
What do you think the church should say “no” to today?