Editorial: Looking Unto Jesus

We are living through a time of great shame and challenge for the church. Pride and presumption are like termites in the temple, eating away at the pillars and posts of institutional Christianity.

Pride has created sensationalism where self-declared “superstars” erect buildings and ministries that look more like them than like Jesus.  Presumption has resulted in scandal as the ministerial office is cheapened by abuse and duplicity.

It is because of the church’s failure to really be the church that we hear phrases like “spiritual but not religious” and “churchless Christianity.”  Suspicion casts a dark shadow over the church today.

It is no wonder that many Christians are discouraged and multitudes of non-Christians view the church as charlatan and even dangerous.

For both Christians and non-Christians, the way through this is found in the exhortation of the writer of Hebrews, “Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in” (Hebrews 12:2, The Message).

The words “and finished” are our hope.  Many begin the race, but do not finish well–thus bringing disgrace on the race itself.  But Jesus both began and finished the race.  If we run with him, he will take us to the finish line.

The church of man (as in ‘good old boys’ club’) is in trouble due to multiple self-inflicted wounds.  But the Body of Christ is as strong as ever.  And as has happened before in times past, the Risen Christ will cleanse the temple, rebuild the ruins, and restore the church on earth to health.

Ride out the storm.  But just make sure you are in the boat where Jesus is. Give him your heart. Do not sell your soul to any other company store.

About jstevenharper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 31 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church
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2 Responses to Editorial: Looking Unto Jesus

  1. Amos says:

    Far in the wilderness echoed again the scarcely words of a prophetic thinker. A wilderness marked by a shortage of church’s leaders who refuse to speak the biblical truth. Steve, a man of God who deserves our admiration, sees the catastrophe of the church as an inevitable consequence if it continues to sell a “cheap christianity” packaged with “pride and presumption” which are, as he uses the metaphor, like “termites eating away at the pillars and posts of institutional Christianity”.

    Yes, it is a prophetic call for the church to come back to Christ and keep its eyes on Him, the source of all truth and life, in other to get to the finished line. Thank you Steve! We really need these words in a time where the church no longer remembers its history.

    Dr. Steve, I ride out the storm and I am sure that I am in the boat where Jesus is.

  2. Lew Arnold says:

    I can’t help but hear the echoes of Jesus himself in what you say Steve. The church has always stood in need of “reformation” and a fierce assessment of what is “essential.” It is great to hear those who have dedicated their lives to honest religion speak their mind.

    21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

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