A Letter to the Church in America

Several weeks ago, while doing my reading for that week’s book discussion, something started stirring in me. I just needed to talk it out. One particular friend came to mind. I sought him out and began to bounce things off of him. I think the conversation was pretty inconsequential to him, but it’s been rolling around in my head every since. And this week, it’s finally coming out here. My questions to him (and myself) that night and to you today are these:

Can we really make a difference in the world? Is it really our responsibility to?

This year, I’ve undertaken to read a bit of CS Lewis and I found some answers last week in his Mere Christianity. He says, “Christianity is a fighting religion. It thinks God made the world—that space and time, heat and cold, and all the colours and tastes, and all the animals and vegetables, are things that God ‘made up out of His head’ as a man makes up a story. But it also thinks that a great many things have gone wrong with the world that God made and that God insists, and insists very loudly, on our putting them right again.”

Lewis says, in essence, that yes, it is our responsibility. And the fact that he phrases it the way he does says that he believes that we do have it within our power to “put things right again.” Because if he didn’t believe that, he would’ve said, “TRY to put things right again.”

In Chapter 20 of The Hole in the Gospel, Rich Stearns compares today’s American church to the church in Laodicea. This was the church that the book of Revelation referred to as being “lukewarm.” Stearns explains how hot water is healing and cold water is refreshing, but that lukewarm water is just disgusting. He clearly intends to apply this analogy to churches, but as I read, I found myself applying it to me. In my daily life, am I hot (healing) or cold (refreshing) or am I neither? Some days, I fear the Lord’s answer on that.

Being hot or cold is the way we make a difference in the world. And I think that the “letter” that Stearns writes in the rest of the chapter gives us some huge keys to keeping our “hotness” and “coldness.” So, let me just hit some of those for you here.

  • Why do you call Me, “Lord, Lord,” but do not do what I say? Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says, for whoever obeys My commands—that is the one who loves Me.
  • There will always be poor people in the land. I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in the land. Defend the cause of the weak and the fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and the oppressed.
  • This is the fast I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke. It is to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?
  • I urge you to live a life worth of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
  • Therefore, My dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

This post is part of our regularly scheduled Wednesday discussion about Richard Stearns’ book, The Hole in Our Gospel. This week’s discussion is about Chapter 20 – A Letter to the Church in America. If you’ve written a response to the chapter, please visit my co-facilitator Jason Stasyszen’s site Connecting to Impact to link up. I invite you and encourage you to jump into the discussion whether you’ve read the chapter or not. Your thoughts are important to us!

About Sarah Salter

Comments

  1. Along these same lines…if we are to truly make a difference, we have to move beyond our earthly notions and desires and become completely committed to the cause of Christ…not as a cute saying, but as a lifestyle.

  2. Good thoughts Sarah. Love the Lewis quote. Thanks for the challenge.

  3. I have often been troubled by what Jesus says of the lukewarm. Good post, Sarah.

  4. Yes, Sarah! That Lewis quote is perfect. Glad you commented more on the actual chapter too because I sort of went off in another direction. :) Great challenge–thank you.

  5. Amen, Great stuff Sarah!

  6. Christianity IS a fighting religion… fighting for what is right, noble and righteous. Thanks for the challenge, it was wonderfully written.

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