The Church Gone Sideways

On the morning of March 23, 2021, the container ship Ever Given was headed through the Suez Canal when something went horribly wrong and it became wedged diagonally in the canal.

 

If you listen to SRN News on Kinship Christian Radio (or any other media source for that matter) you know that the ship remained stuck sideways in the canal for six long days. Shipping through the canal came to a complete standstill as the 1,312 foot vessel completely blocked the 673 foot-wide canal. 

 

The cause of the mishap still remains a matter of speculation. Some say a sudden gust of wind from a sandstorm caused the ship to “lose the ability to steer.” Officials say other factors involved in the mishap may include “technical or human error.” Whatever the cause, the cost of the Ever Given going sideways is estimated at one billion dollars. 

 

At the same time news of the Ever Given was breaking, SRN News was also reporting on a poll by the Barna Group that found that 51% of U.S. church-goers do not know what The Great Commission is:

 

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. Matthew 28: 19&20a (NLT)

 

The details of the poll are even worse. In reality, only 17% of U.S. churchgoers say they know what The Great Commission is and can explain it. Another 25% say they know what it means but cannot explain it and 6% chose the response, “not sure.” When given a choice of five verses and asked to pick which one is The Great Commission, fully 64% either admit they do not know or chose the wrong verse. 

 

The irony of the whole situation is that The Great Commission is exactly and precisely about the Church making disciples –disciples who should absolutely know what their purpose and mission is in the whole grand scheme of what it is to be a disciple of the LORD Jesus Christ.

 

It appears the Church has somehow “lost the ability to steer” and gotten itself wedged sideways in the path, even more so than the Ever Given did.

 

Don’t get me wrong on this. When I say “the Church” I mean the Church Universal. I mean the people who make up the body of Christ.  I mean you and me. 

 

There’s a line in Jesus, Friend of Sinners, by Casting Crowns that goes:

The world is on their way to you,

But they’re tripping over me.

 

When Lent rolled around this year, I decided to give up being political on social media because of what I read in Luke 20: 20-26. Jesus threw the money with Caesar’s face on it back in the faces of those who tried to trap Him with it and instead turned the topic to what belongs to God. (Luke 20: 20-26.)

 

Jesus absolutely shunned the political. And yet He was executed for entirely political reasons. 

 

Even though I am just one person, what I say (even on social media) has the power to heal or destroy, to unite or divide.

 

And, when I think about that part of The Great Commission where Jesus said, “and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you,” there’s a verse I cannot ignore:

 

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. John 13:34 (NLT)

 

It’s so easy to get myself sideways on the political comments with which I disagree on social media. But responding in kind to prove I’m right and someone else is wrong is exactly the kind of thing that blocks the path to Jesus. It becomes about me instead of about the love of Jesus.

 

The way I look at it, the problem with church-goers not knowing what the Great Commission is has nothing to do with the availability of that information. Every pastor I’ve ever known has taught those verses.


The problem comes from the Church not living out The Great Commission. We who know what it is often think it’s about over-seas missions, and it is. But that’s not all. The Great Commission applies just as equally to our neighbor as it does to the guy in Timbuktu. 

 

The love that held Jesus to the cross and the power of the Holy Spirit that rose Him from the grave changed the world more than anything had ever changed the world before or since.

 

As His disciples, that love and that power lives in us –and Jesus is still changing the world in and through His disciples.

 

All we have to do is let the Captain, Jesus, steer the boat. 

 

Today’s Praise

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. John 14:12 (NIV)

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