On June 23rd, this article in the Muskegon Chronicle caught my eye. I was instantly hit with a sense of dread for what I was about to read. What the article went on to describe produced a few mixed emotions and thoughts.
Read the article for yourself and then consider my thoughts.
How could there possibly be good that could come from such a story? A church is removing their cross, the symbol of our only hope for salvation. Well one of the comments on this article captures this well.
A church no longer exists on this spot. It’s been replaced by a social club. Being “inclusive” sounds great, but there has to be a common belief system for a true church to exist. From Websters dictionary…”Church: A body of Christian believers, holding the same creed, observing the same rites, and acknowledging the same ecclesiastical authority….” “Club: An association of persons for the promotion of some common object, as literature, science, politics, good fellowship, etc.”
I hope they all have a great time at what they’re doing, but they’re not attending Church. Sadly, it’s a sign of the times.
What is good about this situation is that in truth this is no longer a church. The church is a body of believers that has been called out of the kingdom of this world into the Kingdom of God. When a gathering of people is declaring (by word and by such dramatic action) that the cross no longer reflects the consensus beliefs of the community then it has ceased to be the bride that Christ purchased.
The cross is not simply a symbol. The cross is the real and ultimate act of God’s saving love.
The cross is exclusive. There is no other way of salvation.
The cross is beautiful. Though it was the place of ultimate grief and tragedy, it has become precious.
Here is a brief clip of the Pastor of C3 and a concerned community member the head of International Aid:
There is no other way than the Cross of Christ. This “church” has abandoned this notion. So perhaps it is best to remove the cross in order to stay consistent and maintain “integrity”. This is good that the church is making these changes in order to be more up front with who they are (or have become).
Of course, I am using the word “good” with much difficulty, but I think it is used appropriately.
Even though this “Gathering” is changing to reflect its members, I still am unashamed to say that this whole thing is bad….very bad!
I watch the short clip on the MLive site of the cross being removed and it grips me with sadness. I can’t stand it. It isn’t right. No matter the situation and its casues, it should hurt the heart of all who have “Christ in us.” We all should feel something strange well up in us…something that would lead us to fashion signs or plan rallies and protests.
The ‘bad-ness’ is magnified by the fact the the cross has been removed from this church long before the physical one on the outside of the building. Knowing that many have been brought into this shift of belief under the shadow of that cross is perhaps the greater tragedy.
But here’s the deal. We should not be surprised by this bad thing.
For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. I Corinthians 1:18
When people consider the cross too offensive or treat is as a foolish notion (Such as the Divine Child Abuse issue) we must begin to question the true belief in Christ…true regeneration. If Christ has not died for our sins…then we have no hope. Anyone that has been born again can’t deny the cross. This is essentially an unforgivable sin…denying the very power that can save you.
People that are denying Christ while claiming to be Christians…this is bad.
What strikes me as the potential ugly of all of this how Christians will respond to it.
When I first started reading the article I was actually afraid that this was a seeker-driven church making this move. Frankly, it wouldn’t surprise me. So many churches have gone the way of removing ‘offensive’ things in order to attract ‘seekers’. What has gotten lost in this movement is the clarity of the Gospel. The effort to be ‘relevant’ has removed the only truly relevant thing. An effort to be non-offensive has short-changed people on seeing the true offense of their sin. Without seeing the magnitude of our fallen state there is a corresponding loss of gratitude for and the wonder of the Grace of God.
What concerns me is that congregations that have moved away from Biblical clarity will have nothing to say to people like this (from the Article comments):
Huh–funny, I thought Christ stood for love–unconditional love of his fellow man, no matter how sinful, wicked, etc. By trying to make more people comfortable coming in, isn’t it possible that this church will have an opportunity to minister to those who may have never come through the door before? I guess thats a bad thing?
How should we respond? Are we ready to respond? Are we in the Word enough with God’s people, working to move away from the pattern of this world toward transformation and renewing of mind (Romans 12:2)?
I hope that we can see the good, see the bad….and stay away from something ugly.