THE Church today is facing numerous challenges in our society. Christians would wish the gospel was easy to share to the unbelieving communities around us, but this is not the case with rising contemporary issues today. The Church now faces serious challenges which threaten the destruction of Christian faith. Some of these challenges include compromise with the standards of the world or walking the path of the world. Today, it seems the church has been more influenced by the society, rather than society being affected by the church. It is an undeniable fact that a majority of the people in our society profess to be Christians, yet the spiritual condition of our society is worse than before. While the Church has been trying to use all means to reach out to people, we have not met with much success in improving the spiritual condition of the society. I believe that if the spiritual condition of the society is the Church’s main focus, with the help of God we can make strides. On the other hand, if we only focus on material stuff, definitely we will fail. Paul said in 2 Cor. 7:1, “…beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” I believe this is the key to overcoming the numerous challenges we are facing in our society.
The truth is that today, there is biblical illiteracy and a widespread deficiency in the basic elements of Christian character, ethics and morality. By my observation, there have been moral dysfunctions among professing Christians more than the secular society. It appears alcoholism, substance abuse, domestic violence, greediness, sexual immorality and promiscuity are commonly seen within the church going population.
It appears our pulpits and Christian platforms are silent when it comes to the issue of sin and immoral behaviour. When that happens, the church is seen more as “married” to the world, but the scripture teaches us in 1John 2:15-17, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him…”
Another area is homosexuality and moral ethics. The issue of marriage has become a much debated topic in recent days. Marriage is being re-defined, particularly by the LGBT community. It appears the church is being pressurized to compromise its biblical position on homosexuality. The human rights advocates are pushing the church to change its theological stand as far as marriage is concerned, but the church cannot accept that because it is unnatural. In some places, ministers of religion are expected to officiate and bless such unions. The contention now is, while church leaders are saying that this is against God’s natural design of sexuality, human rights groups are saying that it is people’s choice and right. The most unfortunate aspect is that some theologians see nothing wrong with this “unnatural behaviour” and are trying to use scientific research to justify that sexual attraction towards one’s own sex is driven by biological makeup. My fear is that the issue of homosexual marriage is not the only case where marriage is being redefined. If same sex marriages are allowed, the next issue will most likely be that of polygamy and polyamory. Polygamy is defined as where one person has multiple wives or husbands while polyamory is defined as multiple lovers within or without a marriage connection. The question is this, do we want the society to go on this tangent? As Christians, we stand against unchristian principles and principalities, and not people.
Still another challenge relates to gender roles and equality. This is measurable equal representation of women and men. Gender equality does not imply that women and men are the same, but that they have equal value and should be accorded equal “treatment” In Ephesians 5:22-26, it teaches that “wives should submit to their husbands and husbands to love their wives…” Some feminist theologians allege that the Bible is gender biased and its teachings are based on a patriarchal culture. The truth is that the Bible does not encourage oppression or gender inequality, but rather oneness and sameness before God. The Church is finding it a challenge to promote Biblical truth on gender issues alongside feminists’ presuppositions. As a result, some women in select churches have been denied the right to become a Pastor or Priest or Minister. I believe to be a priest, a pastor or whatever designation is used, is a calling from God and God is the one who calls whom He chooses.
Poverty is another challenge confronting the Church. Poverty is normally associated with lack of basic needs such as food, shelter and clothes which support one’s everyday living. Poverty is one factor hindering the church as it seeks to reach and convince people who argue that if God is love and is fair, He wouldn’t allow some people to be rich while others are poor. No Church with lack of resources can reach unsaved people for God’s Kingdom. To spread the gospel to the end of the world, the Church needs to be rich. While not promoting the prosperity gospel above the saving one, the Church should have some sessions in which people can learn how to earn a living. Where possible, let the Church have a loan account to be able to help its members to start small-scale businesses which will help them get out of poverty.
I would like to encourage the Church not to leave the above challenges in the hands of government or politicians alone. The Church should work together with the state to deal with challenges that affect both. The Church needs to understand that what affects the state, affects the Church too. When the Church promotes unity, the country will be united.