I love the church, so, it isn’t easy for me to say this: Church, our reputation stinks! We are thought of as hypocrites, haters, critics, and irrelevant. Unfortunately, all those descriptive words are accurate. Of course, there are other words I could use to describe what I have seen in the church: love, sacrifice, giving, and compassion, for example.
You see, the church is so large that there are millions of us in different stages of growth and maturity. So, it’s not surprising, really, to see such a vast difference in the ways we act and are perceived. Yet, God has given us an important mandate that few of us are fulfilling. We are the body of Christ on earth. How can we overcome our poor reputation?
Here’s a simple suggestion: Learn to do right! Especially when it comes to those who are hurting and helpless. The church must emulate Jesus who always sought out the least and the lowest. If we listen to Isaiah and seek justice, encourage the oppressed, defend the cause of the fatherless and plead the case of the widow, we would be thought of in a much better way in our society. We might not have such nice buildings or such fancy programs, but our reputation would surely be better. And our nation would be changed!
• Repent over the poor reputation of the church in our nation.
• Ask the Lord to show you those who are hurting and need you to reach out to them with the love of Jesus.
• Pray for a spirit of compassion to come over the church in the United States so that we will begin seriously to live out the lifestyle of Jesus in our communities.
Lord, forgive us. We have so often made church about us and our needs and wants. In the process we have ignored those who were hurting right down the street from our buildings. Please help us to see people, really see them, as You do. Help us to learn to do right as Isaiah told us. Remake us in Your image, Lord Jesus. You went to those who desperately needed You. May Your compassion well up within us to meet the needs of those around us.
–Adapted from Desperate for Change: 40 Days of Prayer for America by David Butts