It is not the scandals of the church that is causing its lack of growth…
…well, it is to those who are hostile to religion to begin with…but it is its stinking self-righteous, separatist judgmentalism against the ones Jesus came to save that is the real culprit.
We are all sinners. And rightfully, in terms of our sin vs God’s holiness, we stand altogether unworthy. Unworthy to hold any claim on our positions in the kingdom of heaven. Why? Because everything we do is tainted by our self-centeredness. Self-centeredness we attempt to justify as “a healthy self-love.”
But that is hard to see when you believe your very thoughts are being guided by the creator of the universe. Very hard to see all your actions as being guided by self-interest, when you are weekly, sometimes daily, on the idea of being predestined ( as opposed to predestined according to His foreknowledge. )
Speaking the truth in love became a license for being backbiting, snarky, demeaning, belittling, berating, browbeating, and shaming… taking Jesus’ anger at the moneychangers in the temple and applying it to those caught in life-besetting sin. It can be shown that some atheists act more mercifully and morally than those who claim to be in the household of God. Such things should not be, yet are.
We live in a capitalist society, so we are told, but real capital is driven by a free market, but here in America we have corporate welfare (state-sponsored) which is seen as a boon in the board room but leaves the rest of us scratching our heads when it comes to really understanding what they were thinking…
For as long as we labor for another, we are enslaved to them for the means to our very existence. Too big to fail? Too big to fail? “Too big to fail?” is what corporations rationalize their existence to the government and their government representatives.
It follows a script typically something like this
We employ xxx,xxx people in your state. If you allow us to fail, we will close our doors to this facility, and all those people in your state will die. It will be a scandal, and it will be your fault. Gobshite! (a lovely Brit slang word for the American “Stupid Shit Talker”)
The truly amazing thing is that many believe they share the same beliefs that Jesus has. In spite of the continuance of looking down their nose at the poor, the continued judgment of people entrapped by some “life-besetting sin.”
This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples — when they see the love you have for each other. [Joh 13:35 ESV]
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. [Joh 13:35 KJV]
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples] This is the true ‘Note of the Church;’ not miracles, not formularies, not numbers, but love. “The working of such love puts a brand upon us; for see, say the heathen, how they love another,” Tertullian, Apol. xxxix. Comp. 1Jn_3:10; 1Jn_3:14. ‘My disciples’ is literally, disciples to Me. — Cambridge Bible Commentary
Alexander MacLaren wrote: Babel after Babel comes down about the ears of its builders.
Those tests we set up for others will condemn us:
For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. [Mt 7:2 NIV]
It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? — [Mt 7:3,4 GNB]