Have you considered that the American Church contributes to America’s problems? As a member of that Church, I’m not exempt from being part of the problem. But having served for many years as a pastor’s wife, I felt the paroxysm of wrath numerous times because different ones in the Church fought hard against the exercise of passages like Matthew 18, 1 Corinthians 5, 1 Timothy 1:18-20, and 1 Timothy 5:20. Those times when sin continued in spite of confrontations against adulterous relationships, fornication, or immoral behavior, the leadership understood the importance of carrying out the commands of Scripture. Yet, some members opposed church discipline and threatened to leave along with those confronted in sin. So losing church members became problematic with Scripture being respected. Thankfully, others were supportive holding the pastor up in prayer while coming alongside with encouragement. The painful realities of dealing with people who used Scripture to fit their own preferences and prerogatives caused the witness of the church to greatly suffer. In essence: They were espousing one thing with their lips but not living it with their lives.
I find we, the Church, want to hold unbelievers to the high moral standards that we ourselves are unwilling to follow! Yet Scripture doesn’t call unbelievers to follow Christ’s commands, because without the gift of salvation, which places the Holy Spirit of God within their beings, they lack the power or the means to obey. They must be lovingly wooed to the Lord Jesus Christ and His gospel message. Pushing the Bible under their nose and pointing out what it says in areas that address their sin while neglecting to follow the entirety of Scripture ourselves is not wooing them to Christ. We often espouse one thing with our lips but not live it with our lives.
“Be ye holy as I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16) is for every area of our lives and not just where we feel like being obedient. Our attitude should not be to find some sins appalling while involved in “small” sins because we have somehow justified them in our minds. We must not espouse one thing with our lips but not live it with our lives.
Michael Ramsden, International Director of RZIM, in a Question & Answer Series at UCLA, answered the following question – “Why don’t we see Christians Living an Abundant Life?”
Mr. Ramsden begins by sharing an excerpt from a letter written by Dr. Martin Luther King while in a Birmingham jail.
‘We’re living in America where the church is espousing one thing with its lips but not living it with its life …. May the church be raised up to live the moral values that it espouses to.’
I think the Scriptures are very challenging to Christians in the way we live and the means by which we live and the values by which we live. And I’m going to have to confess in the western church we have excused ourselves from a lot of that and claimed comfort and convenience as being the highest ethic rather than the principle of laying down your life in service for others. We’re expecting everyone to lay down their lives in service to us, and that can’t possibly be right. When I’m visiting the parts of the world where you can be simply killed for being a Christian, the Church I meet there is often very beautiful, very attractive, very humble and very clear both in its message and its lifestyle. But our affluence seems to have choked the purity of that message. A challenge to the church would be: we are called to live a thoroughly uncompromising life. Now this may be sad, but most people if they were to close their eyes and imagine someone as a thoroughly uncompromising Christian, someone who is totally uncompromising in their Christian faith, we would immediately think of someone who is harsh, very difficult, and very unpleasant to spend time with. But the Bible invites us to pass judgement on everyone who claims to be a Christian. And part of that judgement we are told is to look at the fruit of their life and the fruit of their life for everyone who claims to follow Christ should be love, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control, and so on. So, let’s be thoroughly uncompromising about that . . . so I think we may need to fall in love all over again with what it actually means to be a Christian (if indeed you are). It seems here in America there’s a lot of money to be made by faking it, one friend I know who is training for the ministry said: ‘People will give a lot of money to authenticity, and if you can fake that, you have it made!’
Do we espouse one thing with our lips but not live it with our lives?