As you read Joe's story in part one, you might be thinking isn't it nice that Joe feels so comfortable going to Church as a non-believer? Isn't it wonderful that the Church is a safe haven, where anyone can come, fit in, and feel like they are part of the family of God? Maybe you are happy Joe found a niche within the Church that spoke to him, in this case it was a Christian biker group. If Joe hadn't found a group he felt comfortable with, he might have left and never come back.
I can assure you, while talking to Joe, my heart was anything but happy or at peace. There was a great grieving within my spirit for Joe who had been going to church for 10 years and never learned anything about God. Joe honestly believed he as a nonbeliever had the same eternal blessings in Heaven as those who are in Christ. Joe's false security in the Church is actually leading him strait to hell. Hell is a real place, with real people suffering in it.
Perhaps you are thinking the Church did everything they could do to tell Joe the gospel message. After all, 10 years of Sunday sermons should have made an impact right? Some church leaders would say it's Joe's hard heart and refusal that is solely responsible for his path to destruction. I'm sure there are many who would quote Scriptures to back up their positions that it's all Joe's fault for where he currently is in his walk of faith or lack there of.
But, after talking to Joe for less than 45 minutes, I can tell you honestly, it's not all Joe's fault. Joe truly doesn't understand the Scriptures or the history behind the Bible. He has no knowledge to base a foundation of faith upon. He has no understanding that the Scripture can be trusted to be the Words of God and that they are not the words of men trying to control others. Unfortunately, biblical teachings on the firm foundations of the validity of Scripture are not the typical Sunday sermons preached. Most sermons are preached from the basis that those in the pews already believe the Bible is the word of God. Therefore, the pastors rarely seek to educate the congregation on this simple fact, assuming they already know it.
Most sermons, at this church like so many others, provide superficial Scripture in a theatrical performance with a little personal anecdote added to connect the listener to the topic in a "relevant way." The entire Sunday service lasts for approximately 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes. The first 30 minutes is usually worship music, announcements/videos, and a short prayer. The second half hour is the sermon with the common notation among Churches being most people in the congregation cannot stay focused beyond 30 minutes. Meanwhile, these are the same people who will spend 3 to 4 hours diligently watching the Super Bowl or other sports event. Many in a congregation will play a video game for hours on end or watch a 2 hour movie without hesitation. What's the difference? Is it truly our limited attention span or ability to focus for 30 minutes, or is it our passion and love for what we are focusing on?
There is no way 1 hour a week in a highly structured Sunday service environment is enough to know God, understand His word, and build a relationship with him. The responsibility for Joe's ignorance does not fall solely upon the failures of a traditional Sunday sermon or any pastor of the church.
... to be continued in Part 3
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An Alaskan Author, Prospector, Homeschool Teacher, Ordained Minister,
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