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What is up with the Church? Part 2

Church attendance in Europe has been on the decline for the last 40 years or more. We have noticed as well a decline in church attendance here in America for the past 20 years or more; the decline accelerated during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

So, what’s up with the Church? Part of the explanation is underneath the top discussion starters of people not feeling organized religion. I will delve into the obvious reasons in the next installment.

The underneath explanations are far more complicated and require serious research and study. The underneath explanations address the nature and origin of the Church in Europe and in the United States of America. There is a sinister duplicitous element to the organizing of churches in America.

The African Apostle Paul wrote to believers in the old European city of Corinth. He had people twisting the gospel that he had preached when he organized the church in Corinth. Paul wrote these words in 2 Corinthians 11:4, “For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.”

It seems there are people who always want to dilute the power of the gospel and the reality of the risen Savior Jesus the Christ, to make themselves feel better and to manipulate the religious leanings of people to fulfill their own desires for power and money.

For instance, many people have been led to believe that America, or more precisely the United States of America, is a Christian nation. They would have you believe the founders of this nation intended to create a Christian nation as a light on a hill when that is just not the truth. The founders of this nation, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, John Adams and George Washington were all Deists.

A Deist is someone who believes there is a God BUT God stepped away from God’s creation to allow people to do what they think is right, and that God will not intervene in the affairs of humans.

That is why these same compromised personalities could own enslaved people and believe they were still “good Christians.” That is why these men and women could peddle the flesh of humans and think they were baptized believers.

That is why these same persons could decimate the native peoples and call it “manifest destiny.” That is why they could deny the humanity of African people by determining in the Constitution of this nation in Article I, Section 2 that Africans were “3/5ths of human,” no more important than one’s flatware, cooking utensils and livestock, and still believe they were faithful followers of Jesus Christ.

In the words of the African Apostle Paul, they preached a “different gospel,” a gospel of money and financial prosperity at the expense of human lives. We see this today in the distorting of the religion of Jesus Christ called “Prosperity Gospel,” a false gospel that claims that God and Jesus want all believers to be financially super wealthy, as if material wealth is a sign of one’s closeness to God. It is a different gospel.

These people confuse God with government and elevate the flag or the cross of Jesus Christ. They preach a twisted version of Jesus that says, “come unto me ONLY those I like who look like me and think like me and all others stay away from me,” rather than the true words of Jesus, which were inclusive to all when he said, “Come unto me ALL, everybody who are weary and heavy laden…” They preach a different Jesus!

Further, they preach a gospel that denies people other basic human rights like safety and welcome. It is perhaps most disturbing to see people of African ancestry who have known the hurt, pain and inhumanity of being excluded, not wanted and turned away from resources that make life better, to now join with the crowds of cruelty, saying to refugees and immigrants fleeing oppression in their countries, which America helped to foment, now saying to those at the southern border, “no room in the inn for you.” It is a different gospel.

People are being driven from their homelands as a direct result of American policy that has interfered with their sovereignty and thus, they show up at the southern borders because of war, famine, death and a bleak future that our nation bears a great deal of responsibility for. Yet, many African descended people can be heard saying, “I wish they would speak English,” or they are “taking our meager resources.”

And the warped twisted governor of Texas has set up buoys of death with razors on them to cut and kill in the water those who are fleeing oppression. This is truly a different and dangerous gospel of vile hatred.

I guess many people in America really don’t want to know that Jesus in the flesh spoke three languages, Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic. I guess if they heard Jesus speak today, they would be so upset that they would miss his words of hope to them because of their hate for the stranger, the wanderer and the refugee.

Many in this country, especially the poor and working class, have been duped into believing there is only so much to go around concerning resources, when in reality there is more than enough for everyone to have enough of what they need. The real issues are with the extremely wealthy who would want all the resources to themselves.

What’s up with the Church? There are those who have twisted the gospel so that it is exclusive, rather than the inclusive gospel that Jesus preached.

What’s up with the Church? Far too many see “blessing” as synonymous with material wealth, when in fact Jesus said, “You cannot serve two masters, money and God.” And way too many in the church are trying to live the American dream of individuality, and being self-absorbed falsely believing they don’t need a community when Jesus gave a commandment to “Love one another, as I have loved you…”

But just as only a remnant returned to Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile, there will always be a remnant in the 21st century church and beyond who take the gospel of commitment to the liberating cause of Jesus the Christ seriously.

There will always be a remnant of those who don’t abandon the church, throwing rocks at it from the outside but who join the church and allow their presence in the church of the risen savior to become a beacon light of unconditional love, welcome, dignity, liberation and the sufficiency that God intends. Such was seen at the birth of the church, in the Acts of the Apostles where “no one had a need” because all shared what they had lovingly and liberally with each other.

Finally, the late Reverend Charles Albert Tindley put words to music and left us this powerful line, “Harder yet, may be the fight; right may often yield to might. Wickedness a while may reign and Satan’s cause may seem to gain, BUT there is a God, who rules above, with hand of power and heart of love, and if I’m right, He’ll fight my battles, for we shall have peace someday.”

CLICK TO READ PART I

Rev. Dr. John E. Jackson, Sr. is the Senior Pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ-Gary, 1276 W. 20th Ave. in Gary. “We are not just another church but we are a culturally conscious, Christ-centered church, committed to the community; we are unashamedly Black and unapologetically Christian.” Contact the church by email at [email protected] or by phone at 219-944-0500.

Knowing The Truth - Part I
Rev. John E. Jackson
Senior Pastor at | + posts

Rev. Dr. John E. Jackson, Sr. is the Senior Pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ-Gary, 1276 W. 20th Ave. in Gary. “We are not just another church but we are a culturally conscious, Christ-centered church, committed to the community; we are unashamedly Black and unapologetically Christian.”

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