Christians Fiddle While Rome Burns
by Alan Allegra 7/15/2010 / Church Life
Legend tells us, during the great fire of Rome, Nero fiddled and sang. Since the only stringed instrument available was the lyre, we assume a liar started this legend. What we do know is the citizens blamed him for the fire. When their ire reached a flashpoint, Nero blamed Christians. This is an example of mankind's favorite weapon of self-defense: blame shifting.
This weapon was first unsheathed when Adam blamed Eve, who blamed the serpent. It is said, "When you point a finger at someone, three fingers point back at you." When it's time to solve problems, it's time to take responsibility and act, not assign blame and react.
Society is in a moral tailspin. Party blames party, country blames country, child blames parents. It's time for the responsible party - the church - to respond to the world's problems.
As a bible-carrying member of the church of Christ, I make no apologies for apologizing for the world's mess. Our Head told us, "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:1316). We are called to penetrate society and point the way to God, even if no one listens. When we fail to address our responsibilities, it's our fault the message is never delivered.
Jesus warned, "When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8). He knew, to his great sorrow, that the church would fail in its mission of spreading the faith. The world has penetrated the church, dimming its light in an eerie eclipse that doesn't bode well for church or society.
I recently started a new job and learned new procedures. It would have been easier had I known the purpose of these procedures. The church's problem is it has forgotten its purpose. Churches are sold as hospitals, social clubs, welfare agencies, ritual museums, counseling centers, salvation purveyors, religious business hubs, once-a-week Worship Worlds, and anything else that appeases our "felt needs." Church leaders lose perspective and become professionals and facilitators instead of shepherds and preachers, leaving the table scraps for prosperity preachers, psychobabblers, cults, Christian counselors, and charlatans to pick up and distribute with their own flavoring.
The importance and purpose of the church is simple: "not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another" (Hebrews 10:25). The task of church leaders is also simple: "to equip the saints for the work of ministry . . . so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes" (Ephesians 4:1214). We gather together to encourage and train one another to avoid false teaching and do good works so God gets the glory. Then are we equipped to make disciples (Matthew 28:1620). This is done by obediently studying the bible and keeping the church pure, while not falling prey to the newest personal and church growth schemes.
Remember Paul's command: "[B]ecome blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life" (Philippians 2:15, 16). Hold fast to the Word, and you won't fall for anything! You'll also light the path to the solutions for the world's problems.