Amos 5: 21 “I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me.”
Too much religion, more evil! Too many churches in our society, more social ills! Has the church failed the society? Is the Church losing its impact and influence in our society today? Is the church’s preaching and teaching making an impact on the church-going populace in our society today to bring transformation?
There is no doubt that the church over the years has played a very significant role and continues to play a role in our society. Through the church, the society has been transformed in terms of its quality educational system, character formation, promotion of peace and tranquility in our society and the list could go on and on.
While these are areas of important impact made by the church in times past, it seems to me that the church has not done enough in recent times to address the prevalent societal challenges. These challenges are the manifestation primarily of neglect of parental responsibilities and include indiscipline in our communities and on our roads, injustice, dishonesty in work places, immoral activities, excessive drunkenness, marital unfaithfulness, reckless driving on our roads, indecent dressing among some of our young people, drug menace, armed robbery, sexual immorality, and again the list could go on and on.
It appears that in recent times, the Church has become too complacent and, in doing so, it has compromised its moral teachings and now “tastes like the world”. There is no doubt that the role of the Church as the light of the world and the salt of the earth has become questionable, when it seems the majority of our society profess to be Christians.
Today, if truth be told, it is very difficult to differentiate between a believer and a non-believer since both persons share and exhibit the same worldly values in their everyday social, public and private lives.
Our society is steeped in religious tradition, religious practice, religious systems, and religious rules and regulations; a society where it appears that every corner you pass you meet a church building yet, our religion is not penetrating into our daily lives to make the society a more just society.
It is unfortunate that the same people who profess to be Christians and are deep in religious practices are still the same people who oppress their co-workers and ill-treat the poor and vulnerable in the society. They are the same people who do not take their work seriously, who practice corruption, go to work late and leave early; the same people who know the criminals in our society, but they shield them; the same people who see wrong and say nothing.
The truth is that our worship of God in the church, must translate into our daily lives in order to impact our communities positively. True Christianity is when the people who follow Christ become and behave like the One we worship. Christianity is not just an act like bringing tithes and offerings or going to church every Sunday. It is a lifestyle! The fact is, when the salt is worthless then the meat rots. It decays. The question is, how many Christians in our society today are Christians by name only?
It seems to me, that most Christians in our society are very religious in terms of lip service and participation in divine ceremonies and sacraments, but very “hypocrite” in terms of practical demonstration of the Christian faith.
God wants holistic individuals and communities who see worship, prayer, fasting, etc., and justice, mercy and blessing going hand in hand.
True Christianity relates. It is a relationship, not a set of rituals. True Christianity should impact lives. It changes our life and influences others. The true Christianity that pleases God is when we practice justice, when we love kindness and walk in humility. The church should be seen as a transforming agent to affect and infect our society in a positive way. The church is the salt and the light to liberate the society from oppression, injustice and abuse.
Christians in our society must let their light shine, people are tired of hearing the gospel today in our society, and they want to see the gospel reflected in our lives – reflecting in our work places, in our neighbourhood, in our homes, in our schools. The gospel should change the culture of impunity. It should change marriages. It should change medicine and health. It should change our attitude. If the gospel is not able to address our societal ills, then, I suggest the churches must re-think their theology to address the challenges facing the society. In the New Testament era, the culture was lifted from the oppressive darkness, and light shone! The gospel produced salt and light, not the other way around!
I suggest that it is time for the churches to re-examine their theology and find a pragmatic way to help to address issues confronting our society. Theology is dynamic and not static. In every context, the gospel is potent enough to transform life and society in a positive way.