Imagine what might happen if the American church stopped trying to defend that of our history which is indefensible?
What if we owned our collective sin and humbly asked God and society for forgiveness?
And what might happen if we Christians took it to the personal level and asked for forgiveness for our own failure to live a Christ-like life in front of our friends, co-workers and families?
What if we actually admitted that we are sometimes hypocrites, we are often conflicted and we sometimes doubt and fear?
And what might happen if we Christians knocked the chip off our own shoulders, abandoned a defensive posture and actually started talking to people who may think differently than we? Not yelling at them or judging them but talking. Not to convince them that we are right or to be understood, but truly attempting to understand; to hear, to feel, to love.
And what might happen if we actually shared the unapologetic Gospel of Jesus Christ in a loving way that conveys the Good News as…well…good news? What if we let people know that sin can be forgiven, guilt can be assuaged, broken hearts can be mended, addictions can be overcome and lives can be restored? And that purpose, power and passion are found in Christ?
And what might happen if we spoke, tweeted and posted less and truly prayed more? And what might happen if we actually prayed before we said, tweeted or posted a single thing?
And what might happen if we decided to listen before we spoke, realized that unconditional love does not necessitate unconditional approval, determined to show respect in all things and broke free from our annoying addiction to having to be right…on everything…all the time?
Perhaps in this soft light of humility, the world may see the Light of the World in the church and in us. Imagine that!
Forgive your church for we have stumbled and fallen in so many ways.
Forgive your people for we have failed to represent you well.
Forgive us for we are quick to speak and slow to listen; quick to judge; quick to anger and slow to understand.
We are filled with pride and arrogance and are too much a part of the problem and not enough a part of the solution.
Forgive us and free us for joyful obedience through Jesus Christ our Lord.
In the STONG name of Jesus Amen!
-Rev. Shane L. Bishop, A Distinguished Evangelist of the United Methodist Church, has been the Senior Pastor of Christ Church in Fairview Heights, Illinois since 1997.