I became a Christian when I was around 16 and came from a background that was non-Christian and non-restrictional. I came into the “church “ quite unaware of its unwritten rules and regulations.
Imagine my surprise in our youth group, when a young lady very piously asked “ Is it alright for Christian young ladies to wear make up?” Our youth leader, who tended to be somewhat direct in his style, looked at her and said “If a barn looks better painted paint it !! This exploded a super spiritual attitude in the girl and in the group.
Unfortunately, the church has been following this dictum for many years and has attempted to cover its blemishes and age spots by a liberal dose of make-up in an attempt to lure the world into its orbit.
The church is due not for another layer of “foundation cream”, but rather for a total facial reconstruction job!! Looking in the mirror we see the following;
When we look at the church in the Western world we can see that we have relied on all sorts of cosmetic changes to our church life. We have added the dimension to church life that suggests that no one can be expected to concentrate for more than 28 minutes, so all preaching must fall into that time limit. We have become more concerned about the size of our parking lot and our nursery than our genuine concern for the needy and poor. We have replaced exegetical preaching and teaching with messages that barely contain scripture at all and are building a biblically illiterate church. We have silenced the voice of the Holy Spirit in our midst in the name of “not giving offence” and spiritual gifts are becoming dormant. We have fallen in love with the hierarchical commercial model of leadership, in exchange for the biblical model of servant leadership. This has resulted in arrogance, pride, and immorality in our major leaders, which has driven a generation away from the Gospel, rather than drawing them to it.
I saw a sad sitcom on television where a young woman went through massive cosmetic surgery and was never satisfied in spite of the great risk she was taking for her health and survival. At the end of the episode she went to a surgeon and said “put it back the way it was before”
The church has had too much ineffective cosmetic surgery. In spite of all the promises that have been made, that if we would simply follow this system or that our society would be impacted… we face again the reality as we move into 2010 that the church in our Western World is making very little if any progress. We are deceived by our own statistics
What am I suggesting? That we return to unreadable translations of the Bible? That we return to a dead legalism ? That we don’t preach a relevant message? That we separate ourselves from the world in a way that makes us monastic in our lifestyle? That we become intolerant to change?
No to all these things!
As good as make up may be, underneath is the true person and no matter how good you look you will not remain eternally attractive, even with the best available cosmetician to help you.
Cosmetics are expensive for the church as they are for people! Some are allergic to cosmetics and others permanently damaged by them and this can also be observed in the church. So much damage has been done to people as they have been led into a gospel of prosperity , which was another cosmetic that church applied in the hope of attracting people.
The church is actually beginning to pay the price for cosmetics of the ornate buildings and architecture of the 1970’s and 1980’s.
Millions were invested in such properties that are now being sold off at ten percent of true value , and world missions have been deprived of finances in the extension of the Gospel, during a season of openness in the World.
The church needs to have a new face that is in fact an old face! Unadorned by ineffective make up , she needs to shine in her beauty and glory as shown in the book of Acts and the Epistles.
Is there an answer to these things?
Returning to servant leadership, heartfelt worship, glad commitment to mission, true devotion to Christ, and a real care for the poor , as well as meaningful community are part of the facial reconstruction needed.
The church, which is His Bride, has an attraction of its own. When we clean off the ineffective make up we see not a haggard wizened old Lady, but a glorious and attractive Bride , that people will be drawn to as they were in the early days of the church when “They took note of them that they had been with Jesus!