Summary: A sermon about being the Church.
"Defeat Evil with Good"
We would be in denial if we were to say that there is not something terribly wrong with our world.
We would be delusional if we were to deny the existence of evil.
This past week, the world watched in horror the desperation of children and civilians who have come under attack in Gaza.
251 children were killed this past week alone.
I found this story on CBS News.com:
"Now in Gaza, the question is the mental wounds that will emerge after the bombs stop falling."
"I call it psychological massacre cases,' said Gaza psychologist Sami Owaida. 'There will be shock.'"
"Owaida has a grim prediction -- made as bombs fell nearby -- for how the shell-shocked and depressed with cope."
"You commit suicide and you die or you will stay alive just to get revenge for your families who were killed,' he said."
"Revenge brings us to Emran Krayka, an outgoing 15-year-old who likes tennis and computers.
His bombed-out family now lives under blankets on a sidewalk.
They are among what some now estimate as many as 400,000 internal refugees."
"The Israelis teach their children,' he said, 'that we will kill them, so they take revenge on us.'"
"This war has inspired his new ambition, which he shares with chilling calm."
"I will be a suicide bomber,' he said.
'I will blow myself up in Israel.'"
"From the angry mind of a teenager, a glimpse into the seeds of hatred sowed in one war that may well fuel the next one."
A couple of weeks ago, 298 souls were shot out of the sky as Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 became a victim of war and terror.
Here at home, 1.5 million American children live in homelessness.
And in our state alone, a child is abused or neglected every hour.
At the same time, the American Church is in decline.
That means less and less people are finding that the Church is relevant or meaningful to their lives.
Instead, many outside the Church see the Church as part of the problem, as we argue over sex, politics and so forth.
Many become discouraged and disillusioned by those who call themselves "followers of Christ," as well, when we spend our time and resources trying to conform to the world rather than doing things that put ourselves outside the norms of human behavior, the consumer mindset, and a "me, me, me" way of life.
This past week a friend was telling me about a church that has soda fountains, you know--like in fast food restaurants or convenience stores--in the lobby as you walk in...
...as well as a coffee bar, complete with cappuccino machines.
They have professional rock bands to lead worship, amazing light shows, count downs before worship starts--in order to get the crowds riled-up and emotionally charged.
This stuff costs big money.
A year or so ago there was quite a stir when a church spent many hundreds of thousands of dollars on a construction project.
Many folks inside and outside the church asked questions such as: "Could this money have been put to better use?"
Others thought it was fantastic.
In any event, it was argued that a lot of hungry mouths could have been fed, an entire homeless shelter could have been built and maintained, persons could be taught job skills, the list is endless--as to how that much money could have been spent.
A couple days ago, I was speaking with the person who runs one of the only options for homeless families in Chattanooga.
She said, "If I could have had just one of those $100,000 dollars...oh what we could do!"
But, who knows, maybe that church was right to spend the money on what they spent it on.
And, even if they weren't, none of us are "qualified" to throw stones.
In any event, there can be no doubt that the world is in trouble and the Church is in trouble.
And when the Church, which is called to be the Body of Christ, is "out of sync"...
...well, the world is really, really out of sync.
We have lost now, several generations of people.
The Baby Boomers were the first to start trailing off in their church attendance and involvement.
Then, my generation--Generation X--there are many less of us who are part of the church.
And the Millennials???
The 18-24 year olds...
...where are they?
They aren't interested in arguing over sexuality or politics.
They want to do something they see as worthwhile, something important...
...but right now they aren't seeing it in the Church.
When Jesus began His ministry He gave what was basically His Mission statement.
It can be found in Luke 4:18-19: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me.