Home » Spirituality

Where Love Begins

Posted by on December 10, 2012 – 6:50 am

According to the Pew Research Center’s recently released report, a full one-fifth of Americans are now unattached to religion, and the Protestant majority is no longer that; Protestant Christians now make up less than 50% of the population.

News agencies reported this news as statistical facts with maybe a raised eyebrow of curiosity while some agnostics celebrated the dawn of a new secularism. Meanwhile, fretful pulpiteers wrung their sweaty hands as they thundered to their shrinking congregations about the end of Christianity, threats against morality, and this trend that confirms that the apocalypse is upon us.

The illustrious Garrison Keillor had the cleverest response of all. If the statistics are true, he mused, then it means the death of the some of the world’s finest cuisine: The end of church potluck dinners. While some mourned over the condition of souls, he crooned with tongue deeply in cheek, his concern was the future of Lutheran casseroles.

Well, it seems the statistics are correct, and those of us who spend time in the church know it, and know it is no laughing matter. We don’t need an exhaustive study to confirm that the church is dwindling. A growing population is indeed unengaged with organized religion. They aren’t necessarily atheistic, nor are they antagonistic toward faith. They are simply uninvolved.

Why? Some of it is demographic, related to the age of our transitioning generations. Some of it is the natural evolvement of a Western society, and the result of an increasingly diverse nation. But frankly, and this cannot be ignored, the church has earned this decline all by its institutional self.

The Pew Report confirms that the religiously unaffiliated think that religious organizations are “too concerned with money and power, too focused on rules, and too involved in politics.” As one deeply committed to the Christian faith, I could not more heartily agree; I say, “Amen.”

Combine this study with the respected statistics of the Barna Research Group (which is an evangelical think tank), and the situation becomes clearer still. According to Barna, those unaffiliated with religion use several primary words to describe Christianity, words that include: “Anti-gay, judgmental, hypocritical, and insensitive.”

I know not every Christian behaves harshly toward others. The most gracious, caring, and welcoming people I have ever met are Christians, fixed firmly within the institution. But I admit that the most obnoxious, hateful, and critical individuals I have ever met are also religious people. This has to change.

“Change,” you ask? “Are you saying we should change our beliefs just to salvage our fleeting market share?” No. Market share has nothing to do with it, but how we treat others has everything to do with it. How can we who follow the loving, open-hearted, redemptive Christ be anything but loving, open-hearted, and redemptive people?

The longer I do this kind of work, and the longer I see these kinds of recent statistics, the more strongly I feel that the last thing most communities need is just another religious institution: An institution that pounds the pulpit and its parishioners with unyielding dogma; that points fingers, condemns, and excludes others from the love of God; that can never confess its shortcomings, admit when it has been wrong, or meet people where they are rather than demanding that people come to it.

No, communities don’t need more hardened, inflexible places like these; but every community needs simple, uncomplicated, receptive places. Every community needs launch pads of empowerment and liberation. Every community needs a communion of friendship, freedom, and faith that will build bridges of grace to the world, not boundaries of separation and marginalization. Simply, every community needs a place of radical hospitality and attraction that welcomes all to know a loving God.

I call these places “church.” Yes, I know, some churches are far better at being judgmental religious institutions than being living bodies of service and compassion, but my hope endures. My hope endures because where hardened institutionalism ends, love can begin, and the love of God is the most attractive force in the universe.

Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, speaker, and author of multiple books. You can read more and receive regular e-columns in your inbox at www.ronniemcbrayer.me.

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  • Dinosr says:

    Ignoring God?

    A carefully planned effort on God’s part,
    has failed again. Someone must be listening,
    for His efforts to be heard. Over the last 100
    Years, God has tried countless times to get
    The attention of His believers. Though no one
    seemed to notice;

    There was an earthquake in San Francisco.
    No response.

    Two freak airplane wrecks occurred that
    caused both pilot’s cabin to be complete
    torn off both planes. One in the east and
    One in the west. Something to joke about.
    No response.

    New Orleans was soaked with a try for
    attention but many were saved, only
    because of the masses crying out to God
    for help. Their own country would not
    help them.
    No response.

    Hostages were taken and held 444 days
    as foretold in the Bible. In the same time
    period, the whole top blew off Mt. Saint
    Helen, as foretold in the Bible.
    No Response.

    The day the towers fell, Many cries were
    heard and many approached God asking
    for revenge. No public words were said,
    asking for God’s reason. The falling towers
    were foretold, in the Bible.
    No Response.

    The only time, man has been brought to his
    knees, in this great land of freedom, was
    the dust bowl. The people finally realized,
    God is in control.

    God left some signs that blank out the
    Big Bang theory. Have you ever looked
    At a flat globe map? Do it. If you don’t
    See the pictures, God left as a sign,
    You must be spiritually blind. Check out
    The giant prehistoric bird of prey. And
    While you’re at it, check out the giant
    Dragon. One’s carrying a large hive and
    the other is eating from a large honey
    nest. Imagination? God don’t think so.
    It’s time to wake up, Christians, or God
    Will really get your attention.

    Lord?

    Please?

    Where in this Hell have all the true believers gone?

    Are you a real Christian?

    Stand up.

    Or Jesus will not know you.

    .

  • Dinosr says:

    Wake Up!

    …I just made such a strong statement, it
    seems everyone is in shock. How does this
    lowly human think he has the right to go
    against today’s common thought? What gives
    him the right to believe he can talk and
    listen to Jesus and His Father, God?

    ..It’s OK for the believers on this earth
    to think a chosen few get to talk to them.
    If you give enough to the church, you might
    even get to go to Heaven. Some even think
    there is only one way to get to Heaven and
    that’s with the help of a preacher.

    …If you search the words God left, in the
    Bible, you will find at least two meanings
    for everything written. The “Holy People”
    have taken control of God’s House and
    written their own rules.

    .. Most of today’s churches have relaxed
    God’s word to the extent, there is no
    longer a need to repent. They have also
    convinced themselves that works are a thing
    of the past. Most quote Paul and believe
    works is something that no longer has value.
    In the New Testament, a whole chapter is
    written about faith and works. The second
    chapter of James has been completely ignored.

    ..Now all you have to do, is say you know
    who Jesus is, fill the offering plate, and
    don’t worry. You now have a passkey to the
    Gates of Heaven. Today’s way of belief is,
    You don’t even have to try. An untold truth,
    that only the “Holy People” control, will
    save us all.

    …Why don’t you use common sense and some
    reasoning? Why would God come to this earth,
    in the form of His Son, give humans the
    chance to live again, then make it so easy
    to do? Don’t forget. He was killed for
    spreading love and making the offer of life.

    …No, I am not trying to explain all
    about religion. Religion is a lifetime
    study of something that no one seems
    to understand. I am telling you how
    to meet my friend, Jesus.

    “How about trying to Wake Up?”

    …God gave His Son to die on the cross so
    your God can live inside you. It’s really
    very simple. It’s one on one. If you
    believe that truth over powers evil, then
    quit evil, ask and Jesus will enter your
    heart.

    ..Now that you have met Jesus, you must
    have good Intentions and be willing to
    live for goodness. Ask Him in, believe
    He’s there and talk to Him inside yourself.
    It’s God’s promise, if you ask, He will
    enter.

    ..Okay, you ask Him. Do you think God
    would put His Son inside your heart,
    and make Him mute? Not hardly. Some
    (most?) people think the voice you hear
    inside yourself is your conscience.
    Granted. That is what it is called,
    so it can be explained.

    …After you have Jesus inside your
    heart, you must use His name to talk
    to His Father. You must ask His Father
    to put His Son’s voice inside you, so
    you can hear Him. Then believe it.
    Jesus says in the Bible, “My Sheep
    Know My Voice.” That is where doubt
    comes in. When you hear the voice of
    Jesus, you can’t doubt it. You must
    believe. As long as you are seeking
    Jesus or the voice of Jesus, You are
    covered by God’s Grace. God knows the
    difference. It is something the devil
    can’t fake.

    …I know what the problems of doubt
    are. Over the years I have doubted
    many times, but Jesus has always been
    there for me. When you believe in Jesus
    and His Father, your problems are not
    over. They are just beginning. When you
    live for Jesus, you must also believe,
    the devil is very real. He will try In
    every way to spoil your belief. Then
    you must remember, you are no longer
    alone.

    …Even if you can’t believe what I
    say, think about it. Jesus and His
    Father are waiting to meet you.</

  • Dinosr says:

    …Meaning no disrespect at all, I have no
    idea on how to change the truth and it still
    be the truth. If you have any thoughts on how
    to change this and make it appear as a truthful
    thought that is said so it can be excepted, please
    help.

    Wake Up!

    …I just made such a strong statement, it
    seems everyone is in shock. How does this
    lowly human think he has the right to go
    against today’s common thought? What gives
    him the right to believe he can talk and
    listen to Jesus and His Father, God?

    ..It’s OK for the believers on this earth
    to think a chosen few get to talk to them.
    If you give enough to the church, you might
    even get to go to Heaven. Some even think
    there is only one way to get to Heaven and
    that’s with the help of a preacher.

    …If you search the words God left, in the
    Bible, you will find at least two meanings
    for everything written. The “Holy People”
    have taken control of God’s House and
    written their own rules.

    .. Most of today’s churches have relaxed
    God’s word to the extent, there is no
    longer a need to repent. They have also
    convinced themselves that works are a thing
    of the past. Most quote Paul and believe
    works is something that no longer has value.
    In the New Testament, a whole chapter is
    written about faith and works. The second
    chapter of James has been completely ignored.

    ..Now all you have to do, is say you know
    who Jesus is, fill the offering plate, and
    don’t worry. You now have a passkey to the
    Gates of Heaven. Today’s way of belief is,
    You don’t even have to try. An untold truth,
    that only the “Holy People” control, will
    save us all.

    …Why don’t you use common sense and some
    reasoning? Why would God come to this earth,
    in the form of His Son, give humans the
    chance to live again, then make it so easy
    to do? Don’t forget. He was killed for
    spreading love and making the offer of life.

    …No, I am not trying to explain all
    about religion. Religion is a lifetime
    study of something that no one seems
    to understand. I am telling you how
    to meet my friend, Jesus.

    “How about trying to Wake Up?”

    …God gave His Son to die on the cross so
    your God can live inside you. It’s really
    very simple. It’s one on one. If you
    believe that truth over powers evil, then
    quit evil, ask and Jesus will enter your
    heart.

    ..Now that you have met Jesus, you must
    have good Intentions and be willing to
    live for goodness. Ask Him in, believe
    He’s there and talk to Him inside yourself.
    It’s God’s promise, if you ask, He will
    enter.

    ..Okay, you ask Him. Do you think God
    would put His Son inside your heart,
    and make Him mute? Not hardly. Some
    (most?) people think the voice you hear
    inside yourself is your conscience.
    Granted. That is what it is called,
    so it can be explained.

    …After you have Jesus inside your
    heart, you must use His name to talk
    to His Father. You must ask His Father
    to put His Son’s voice inside you, so
    you can hear Him. Then believe it.
    Jesus says in the Bible, “My Sheep
    Know My Voice.” That is where doubt
    comes in. When you hear the voice of
    Jesus, you can’t doubt it. You must
    believe. As long as you are seeking
    Jesus or the voice of Jesus, You are
    covered by God’s Grace. God knows the
    difference. It is something the devil
    can’t fake.

    …I know what the problems of doubt
    are. Over the years I have doubted
    many times, but Jesus has always been
    there for me. When you believe in Jesus
    and His Father, your problems are not
    over. They are just beginning. When you
    live for Jesus, you must also believe,
    the devil is very real. He will try In
    every way to spoil your belief. Then
    you must remember, you are no longer
    alone.

    …Even if you can’t believe what I
    say, think about it. Jesus and His
    Father are waiting to meet you.</

  • Dinosr says:

    TAKE HEED:
    ….It seems the American people are being protected
    from the bare facts of the TRUTH. Even tho the Truth
    is still spoken by true believers, it is not allowed
    to be spread to the masses. This post has been deleted
    many times before, but maybe on this “Day Of Christ”
    it may be allowed.

    God’s Last Warning?

    The United States has fought many countries
    for acts of inhuman actions against their
    own people. Humans are supposed to have
    certain rights, under God,that can not be
    denied.

    …Now it is time to expose a monster crime,
    against our own people. It has been reported,
    since 1973 there has been 53 million babies
    aborted in the name of free rights. Women
    have the right to abort any baby that is not
    wanted. Murder.

    …The excuse used to justify this mass murder?
    Life don’t start until the baby is developed
    to a certain stage. They state the baby does
    not have a soul until a certain time. The main
    theme in their story? When does life start?

    …If this question was asked in any part of the
    World but ours, they would laugh.

    …Life does not start. It continues.

    …If Hitler killed less than ten million, and
    he has been declared as the filth of time,
    what does that make us? So far this nation
    has killed fifty three million and counting.

    …If these facts are not given to the people,
    they will not know why God has condemned
    this country. Already, earth quakes and
    other attempts from God to get our attention
    has failed. Thousands of dead birds falling
    From the sky didn’t even rate the front page
    more than once.No one cares.

    Remember the cities God deleted?
    He did it with fire and ash. The last time God
    Managed to get the attention of this country,
    He did it with a dust bowl.

    Repent.

    Lord? Please?

    Where have all the true believers gone?

    Are you a real Christian?

    Stand up.

    Or Jesus will not know you.

    .

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