If you were to line up 20 people side by side, would you be able to tell which ones are Christians? If you were to randomly follow church attenders around through their daily lives, how many would live distinctive, Christian lives?
If we, the Church, would honestly answer those questions, we would have to admit that the Church is disappearing. The everyday lives of today's Christian are really no different than the sinful world. In many churches, sin is no longer called sin for fear of stepping on toes and offending people. And in far too many churches, the Gospel of Jesus is so watered down that sin is now considered a normal part of the Christian life. The writing of Paul to the Roman church is now long forgotten - "What shall we say then? Should we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid."
The divorce rate in the Church isn't much different than that in the world. The rate of premarital sex among Churched teens is not much different than the world. Cursing, drinking alcohol, immodesty, anger, bitterness, bad attitudes and a host of other things are not really that different between the people of the Church and people in the world. Why?
I believe that Mark Sayers has identified the reasons why the Church has blurred with the world. We've long forgotten the real issues. In our quest to be relevant, we've become self-focused instead of God focused. That's why so many churches are falling prey to entertainment rather than true worship. Dynamic preachers rather than truthful preachers. Great programs rather than old-fashioned moving of the Holy Spirit. Decisions rather than praying clear through at the altar.
The ultimate problem is that the Church has lost it's respect for authority because they've become focused on the creature rather than the Creator. Sayers presents what he calls a "religion of self" that led to this whole movement of individual freedom. He gives examples of this change of focus from God and His traditions, received wisdom, regulations, ect. to individual freedoms, happiness, self-definitions, and self-expressions.
The last section of this book addresses what we, as the Church, must do to return to what we need to be. It is summed up in these quotes from the book:
"The only way to be truly alive, to produce fruit, spiritual fruit that lasts into eternity, is to remain in Christ."
"To learn to abide in Christ, we also must break from the lures that surround us, while still offering good news to the culture that seduces us."
You could say that the theme of this book is the words of Jesus - "If the salt loses it's saltiness, it is no longer good for anything..."
I would like to thank Moody Publishing for the opportunity to review this book. I give it a 3 out of 5 given the fact that at times it is difficult to read just because of the depth of the content. But overall, this book is worth the read.