Living in the “bible belt” has it’s good and bad. I’m a child of the bible belt. Some good. Some bad.
The good? Easy access to Scripture. Evangelical doctrine purged (mostly) of post-enlightenment liberalism. Respect for elders. Honor for those who have passed on and their families (I love that in my town we still stop for a funeral procession. I’ve buried both my parents, and we’ve buried my wife’s mom, and nothing quite like people stopping to honor your grief). Strong sense of family. There’s more, but that’s not the point of this post.
The bad? Assumed salvation. Assumed gospel content. Poor child evangelism. Poor preaching. Moralistic therapeutic deism disguised as Christianity. Bad theology in many pockets (distinct from the overall absence of liberalism). Salvation tied to “asking Jesus into my heart” with no concern for following Jesus in obeying everything he has commanded. There’s more, but again, can’t be unpacked in this post.
What I am concerned about in the post-Christian south is a form of godliness that denies the power of God to supernaturally advance his kingdom. A lacking ethical standard rooted in the inerrant bible, God’s word, truth (noun not adjective in John 17:17), manual for life.
People who call themselves Christians yet show little concern for others in failing to observe boundaries. People who are concerned with not violating the law, but show little regard for biblically ethical behavior and practice…We are called to a higher ethical standard. It’s legal to seek an abortion, but we have a higher ethic for life. Power and a desire to be known leads to compromising biblical ethics for the sake of legality. Make sense? People who have little regard for the role of pastor/elder/overseer who passively/aggressively come after under-shepherds with little to no respect while doing nothing to obey Jesus’ teaching. People who will not receive instruction, but look for ways to contend and divide or just do things their own way. People not wanting to keep the covenant, but looking to get as much spiritual product as they can. People just being lazy.
None of us are perfect, but we must be humble people, striving to obey Jesus, loving each other and our neighbors well, fighting for joy, keeping unity and peace and smelling like what we read about in Scripture.
We can use marketing, CEO strategy and business tactics to build an organization, but it may not be the church. We must go after Jesus end and means to get the church.
Here’s Matt Chandler’s take:
Think in this, and may it produce a love for Jesus and a desire to see his kingdom come and his will be done on earth as it is done in heaven.