A leaner, meaner church …

As the church has become leaner due to it’s decline, we’ve also become meaner.

We once talked a lot about winning souls, but if you look at the stance of many Christians today toward unbelievers, it’s one of trying to defeat them rather than disciple them.

We’ve flooded our faith to overflowing with our politics, and we spend our days hurling political rants all focused on defeating our “enemies.” So much so, we’ve come to see our world as being made up of “us” and “them,” with anyone in the “them” camp being an enemy to be defeated.

So we spend a lot less time loving others and sharing the Gospel, and a lot more time looking for a point to debate, another argument to win, and ideas to destroy.

In the process, we’ve lost sight of who our real enemy is …

“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places,” Ephesians 6:12.

Even when we discover human beings who really do position themselves as our enemy, our response to them is often far short of what Jesus says it should be …

“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!” Matthew 5:43-44.

In “The Grace of Giving,” Stephen Olford tells of a Baptist pastor during the American Revolution, Peter Miller, who lived in Ephrata, Pennsylvania, and enjoyed a close friendship with George Washington.

In Ephrata also lived Michael Wittman, an evil-minded sort who did all he could to oppose and humiliate the pastor. One day Wittman was arrested for treason and soon was sentenced to die. Peter Miller traveled 70 miles on foot to Philadelphia to plead for the life of the traitor.

“No, Peter,” General Washington said. “I cannot grant you the life of your friend.”

“My friend!” exclaimed the old preacher. “He’s the bitterest enemy I have!”

“What?” cried Washington. “You’ve walked 70 miles to save the life of an enemy? That puts the matter in a different light. I’ll grant your pardon,” he said. And he did.

Peter Miller took Michael Wittman back home to Ephrata, no longer an enemy but a friend.

Are you busy trying to defeat unbelievers, or disciple them? Are you battling against people you see as enemies, or obeying Christ by loving them?