With our church doors open wide, we must be careful who we let in.
Satan is waiting for an invitation. He is lurking outside the door.
Have you let Satan’s influence into your church?
After living in several places over the past few years, I’ve walked through many different church doors.
Some became a temporary home, while others pushed me out as quickly as I came in.
I’ve seen many different types of leadership, fellowship, outreach and service.
I’ve seen God’s hand working in mighty ways, but I’ve also watched as Satan’s influence crept into the corners of the congregation.
Satan is real and at work in our churches.
And Satan is a liar.
We must face these two truths.
There are three extremes that are at work in our churches today. I’m going to walk you through each one to bring awareness to the lies that tempt.
As we shine a light on the darkness, Satan runs.
Satan cannot stand in the presence of God. So join me and let’s take our stand against his evil schemes in our churches.
Extreme #1: A Tight Door and Squinted Eye
Have you ever received the look?
You know, the one where you look yourself up and down wondering what you did wrong.
We’ve all been on the receiving end of this look. But far too often, we are on the giving side.
Let’s face it, Christianity can easily become a tight-knit community of rules and regulations.
We may begin with the best of intentions, but soon, our churches become hardened to the sinners longing for a home.
Too many tattoos. A swollen belly at too young an age. A questionable lifestyle. An everlasting addiction.
Too many of us see these things and close the doors. Or worse, we allow them in and offer only a heart of judgement.
But Christ came to save the sinners.
He came to offer hope and healing.
On hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." -Mark 2:17
Where is that truth in a church full of judgement?
Where is the light of Christ in the darkened room of hypocrisy?
We often think of the Pharisees as the ones who judge.
But take a close look at your church. Take a close look at your heart.
Do sinners feel welcome? Are your doors open to the broken and needy?
You don’t know the story behind the pregnancy, the addiction, the brokenness.
Within every sinner is a heart longing for a home. Christ offers that home.
As a church, we are to offer the door to that home. As the body of Christ, we are to proclaim grace and hope.
Extreme #2: The “It’s Okay” Mentality
We are all tempted with thoughts to rationalize.
Maybe it’s not that bad.
I see other people doing it.
Just this once.
When we entertain these thoughts, we invite Satan in.
Whether it’s the acceptance of a sin or the sinning itself, Satan gets a foothold when we rationalize.
We must spend time individually and as a church in the Word of God. It is Scripture’s light of truth that will reveal the lies we’ve let in.
We must compare our church’s values, mission and everyday workings to the truth.
Paul’s letters are full of truths for the church to live by. He addressed many corrupt churches and told them to stand against Satan’s influence.
We are still that church today, so easily taken by Satan’s tempting. So quick to fall to sin.
Take a look at the inner workings of your church. Do they line up with Scripture? Do they follow the truth of God’s word?
As we align our churches with the truth, we will see a body of believers rise up and shine a light into the brokenness of our world.
Extreme #3: Monotony and the Mundane
Wake up. Go to church. Eat lunch. Take a nap.
How many of your Sunday’s follow a pattern similar to this?
It is so easy to get caught up in the routine of Sunday morning church.
It is so easy to view your church service as fuel for your week.
We serve on committees, prepare meals, plan activities and all the while, we may be missing something big.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” -Matthew 28:19
Do our daily church activities bring unbelievers to the love of Christ? Are our hearts being offered as much as our hands?
I’ve served alongside many church congregations while my newfound faith spiraled wildly out of control.
I’ve smiled, planned activities and offered a helping hand, all the while questioning God and whether or not He truly cared for me.
And these fellow church members alongside me?
There were several times that I walked away. I hated the idea of a church full of mundane activities and hidden hearts.
But some of these fellow Christians offered an open heart and the chance for me to share my struggles. And this made a world of a difference.
Now, as I face opportunities to serve, I must remind myself of the importance of the task.
We are not planning picnics simply just to eat and play. We are not sending meals simply just to feed.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord. -Colossians 3:23-24
The church has the opportunity to offer a heart of grace, a word of encouragement, a source of accountability.
Everyone around you is struggling with something. No matter how well they hide it, it’s there.
As a church, we need to open the doors to genuine conversation and growth.
Don’t just invite people, invite hearts.
As you examine these three extremes, consider how Satan has worked these lies into your own church and your own heart.
How can you take a stand today? How can you work with your church to take a stand?
When we stand together, we have the opportunity to offer hope and healing to the broken and weary.
Let’s shine Christ’s light through our churches today.
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