There’s a song about Memphis that Todd Agnew wrote that seems to highlight the need for authenticity in the church. The reality is that the church is in crisis. Instead of being the peace makers and shaping the culture like it should, the church is resembling more like the culture it should be influencing.
The church, as it should be noted, is not the brick and mortar buildings throughout the Bible belt. The church is the people of God; people who are called by their Lord and Savior to share the Good News and make disciples of all nations. Because the church should be filled with people who are walking closely with Christ, it naturally should shape its environment and the culture that surrounds it.
As a result of the church’s neglect, the world system, or in other words society and human nature, has sank lower in depravity. We see how people have turned their backs on God. In the United States alone, there’s an ongoing attack on Christian beliefs. There’s the rejection of God within the government and schools. But if that’s not enough, Christians are now being told they need to conform to laws that violate their consciences. Christians are being told they need to support abortion through taxes and the health care mandates. They’re also being told that they need to provide services for same-sex marriage or have their business licenses be revoked or be sued for discrimination. Each of these topics are debates that each side is extremely passionate about. And those are discussions for another time.
Because the world system is actively trying to eliminate the conversation about Jesus and man’s desperate need for Him, our country is experiencing social ills in nearly all aspects of life. Unfortunately, because the church has failed to influence the culture, the world system has been relentless in advancing its goals in infiltrating the church and pushing its agenda of sin and depravity upon God’s people. As proof of this, one only needs to see how rapidly the landscape within the dominant religions have changed in its views toward homosexuality and same sex marriage.
However, society’s ill are not limited to sexual orientation. God’s Word says there are two basic commandments in Scripture: 1) to love the Lord your God with your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and 2) to love your neighbor as yourself. Removing God from the hearts and minds of people has always been the goal of those opposed to Him. So naturally, if God is not involved, then the next logical step is for people to be offensive and unloving to each other. It’s not difficult to see how this is being played out whenever we turn on the news on TV or whatever news outlet one uses.
Problems of this nature, man against man, is a conflict that is as old as history itself. Remember Cain and Abel? Now fast forward to the 21st century. Wars are waged and every day there’s stealing, killing, and destroying. Just as this is an ongoing issue worldwide, it’s as big an issue in Memphis, TN. One would have to be blind or completely ignorant to ignore the reality of racial divides. No matter what experts would say on the matter, it’s not a one-sided issue. Has one side been mistreated more than the other? Perhaps. The problem, though, exists in the heart of every man, woman, and child. The problem is sin.
People generally dismiss honest and open discussions regarding faith because the Gospel message is antagonistic against the world system. If Memphis, TN or any other city or state is ever going to solve the ills of society, it must first identify where the problem originates. The church needs to step up and it must solve its identity crisis that it is experiencing. The church is not a people that conform to the world and the culture. The church is people who identify with Jesus Christ and His godliness and attributes. The church is to be in the world, not of it. As Todd Agnew suggests in “On a Corner in Memphis,” the church needs to step outside the brick and mortar and get involved; it needs to influence the world.