In America, cultural Christianity has led to some serious problems. As a result, Christian America has become more and more post-Christian America.
One of the greatest reasons for our fall is our unwillingness to obey one particular verse in the Bible.
“Accept the one whose faith is weak….” – Romans 14:1
By failing to include and disciple those without faith and our impatience with those new to faith, people with genuine doubts or questions or issues have given up or not come to us any longer for help.
Too often Christians have been seen as judgmental. As a result, there is a pressure to look like a “good Christian.”
As a result, churches have been tempted to operate under more of a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Many who follow Christ want everyone to have it together or at least act like they have it together.
In the end, people who struggled with their faith or struggled with sinful choices have felt a need to go in one of two directions:
- Hide their struggles and never get help.
- Embrace their struggles and leave the church.
The antidote to this slide away from faith is to follow Paul’s command to the Roman church to “Accept the one whose faith is weak….” (Romans 14:1)
Just consider, what if…?
- What if churches followed through on Paul’s direction to the Romans to accept those who are weak?
- What if churches allowed people to belong before they believe?
- What if churches communicated to the world in words and in action to truly “come as you are”?
Accepting the weaker person and creating the space for the unbeliever to be among us is really difficult.
The challenges of including the weaker person include:
- Struggling people don’t often think of the church as their go-to place to find healing.
- For those who are part of the community, people who are struggling are messy.
- Hurt people hurt people.
- Many of the “more mature” people who follow Christ are looking for a church community in order to hide from the struggles and broken people of the world.
- “More mature” Christ-followers give money to be “fed” rather than looking for ways to invest in skeptics and new believers.
Consider more of the passage:
“Accept the one whose faith is weak…. without quarreling over disputable matters….
We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. For even Christ did not please himself…
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
– Romans 14:1, 15:1-6
It appears consumer Christianity is not an issue only in America. Paul challenges the Roman Christ-followers to “bear with the failings of the weak and not please ourselves.”
Our human default is towards selfishness and pleasing ourselves.
The way of Jesus is to build up others – no matter how weak they may be.
Dr. Eric Michael Bryant serves as the lead pastor at Gateway Church in South Austin and teaches at the masters level on Ministry in a Post-Christian World and at the doctoral level on Missional Effectiveness with Bethel Seminary. Eric is the author of Not Like Me: A Field Guide for Influencing a Diverse World. You can find articles, interviews, and other great resources through the Eric Bryant Foundation at www.ericbryant.org.