A few years back when I sensed a serious decline in the role of Christianity in our nation's leadership I found the book, "The Christians and the Fall of Rome." I thought I should prepare for the worst. Though overall it was a challenge to read, I found this quote comforting:
"A candid but rational inquiry into the progress and establishment of Christianity may be considered as a very essential part of the history of the Roman empire.
Knowing that I also want to "erect a triumphant banner of the cross on the ruins of ‘the Capitol’", I'm not sure I see a "pure and humble religion" in our Christianity. Echoes of "open violence" toward Christianity seem to be heard more frequently now throughout our nation, and certainly the "slow decay" of morality and work ethic are all around us. But inside the churches it seems we hear more in-fighting, discontent and hopelessness. While that great body (Christianity) was invaded by open violence, or undermined by slow decay, a pure and humble religion gently insinuated itself into the minds of men, grew up in silence and obscurity, derived new vigor from opposition and finally erected the triumphant banner of the cross on the ruins of the Capitol."
A word of caution: Don't confuse what you hear inside "church buildings" with what you hear inside "THE CHURCH." Inside church buildings a lot of people talk about the gospel, Inside THE CHURCH people live out the gospel. Inside church buildings people argue to defend the doctrines of the faith. Inside THE CHURCH people long to share the good news of their faith in Christ. Inside church buildings people talk about the moral decay outside the church. Inside THE CHURCH people strive to be an example of how to find freedom through Christ from the moral decay outside the church.
The church of the first century was hated by many, misunderstood by most, but ignored by very few. The world just couldn't comprehend that "love" factor. This summer we have set out to “tweak” our attitude toward those outside THE CHURCH. Let's continue to look for ways to creatively share the good news...and in the words of Francis of Assisi, "if you must, use words." Then maybe we will be able to once again " erect the triumphant banner of the cross on the ruins of the Capitol
See You Sunday,