I often hear “Christians” from the millennial generation make railing accusations against the church. One young apologist I read on Twitter recently claimed that the primary reason people reject God is the church—Christians. This claim is so wrong that it can only have come from Satan, the accuser of the brethren. While Christians do manifest weakness and sin, they are not the reason men walk away from God. Men turn from God because they hate the light and love darkness (John 3). They say, “We will not have this man reign over us” (Luke 19:4). They are “lovers of themselves … lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God” (2 Tim. 3:1-4).
This is not something that I only know from the Bible. I also know this from my own experience. I have listened to many tell their tale of woe, claiming that they turned their back on God because of the church. The church mistreated them. The church is full of hypocrites. The church isn’t what it should be. But the truth came out in their lifestyle and testimony—they flew their true colors. Blaming the church was merely an excuse. In reality, they were already estranged from God because of their sin, pride, and compromise. And when the church called them to account, they publicly walked away from God denouncing the lack of love in the church. This is dishonest. Such self-justification will not fly with God.
Can the church really be to blame when men turn from God? Then what are we to think when we read in the gospels that the majority of those that followed Jesus turned away from him because he offended them? Is Jesus to blame in this matter? No. Their wicked hearts are to blame. He was merely the occasion that exposed the wickedness of their heart. Now if Jesus himself couldn’t keep the majority of former followers and potential followers from turning away from him, is it valid to blame the church when she has similar results? Maybe the problem is that folks don’t like the testimony of Jesus in the evangelical church any more than they liked the testimony of Jesus from his own lips?
Again, we read in Revelation 14:6-7 that a literal angel shall preach the gospel to the entire world in their own tongues, yet the world shall refuse to repent and give God the glory due him. Think about this! Despite the fact that the gospel shall be preached clearly and perfectly through this angel, in every language on earth, with no character flaws associated, yet the vast majority of the world will still refuse to repent and give God glory. Who is to blame here? The unbelievers. Their own wickedness and unbelief is the problem. They want the wine of Babylon’s fornication. They want the pleasures of sin for a season.
Now I will not make excuses for the lukewarmness, worldliness, and sin that prevails in many in the church. This is tragic. It is a travesty of the faith delivered unto man in the Bible. And this moral failure does stumble some men. But it is generally the presence of Jesus not the lack of Jesus that turns the ungodly away from God and from the evangelical church. They don’t want Jesus to reign over them, telling them what is okay and not okay. They only want God if they can bring him down to their own worldly level. But then he is no longer the God of the Bible. He is just a god patterned after man’s evil imagination.
Eyes wide open, brain engaged, heart on fire,
Lee W. Brainard