Here is the thing - When people outside the body look at Christians, they rarely see the body of Christ that Paul seems to talk so much about in the bible. The unity, equality, and empathy found in the Book of Acts with the early church is largely absent from our society.
I preached a sermon on Sunday (http://www.sondaylive.org) about the body of Christ. Why? Because I have friends that feel burned, excluded, or apathetic towards the Christian sub-culture that is a shell of the living, breathing, body of Christ its supposed to be.
Anyone who has been in the church for more than a month can tell you that Christians can be the most venemous, back-stabbing, gossiping scum of humanity sometimes. With sugary-sweet smiles they will tell you they are praying for you and in the next flash undermine your connection to the community.
But that, my friends, is not the body of Christ. That, as I mentioned before, is a hollow shell of a former life that Christians still struggle with. Its a dangerous thing to claim to be God's representatives in the world. This responsibility cannot be taken lightly. But it should be taken! I need, you need, we need, Christ to be active and alive in America.
I need you to be the sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, wives, husbands, uncles, aunts, and grandparents that will take care of those who don't know those things can be good. I need you to be the stranger someone passes in the grocery store who smiles simply out of kindness. I need you to be the stranger who shares a cup of cold water to a thirsty homeless man in the name of Christ. I can think of a million ways you are needed - because if you don't do it, God won't do it. Not immediately. The rocks might cry out eventually, but that won't happen until all other options are exausted. And as long as you and I walk the earth, God has another option.
Please. We don't have time to argue. We should, as the body of Christ, unify*. Is our belief in Christ not enough to bring us together? Then we are NOT the body of Christ. We don't have time to play favorites. We should, as the body of Christ, lift up every member of the community equally*. Are there some held in higher esteem because they have status in our society? Then we are NOT the body of Christ. We don't have time to ignore each other. We should, as the body of Christ, empathize* with those in pain or need. Is there someone in our community in need who we have turned a deaf ear to? Then we are NOT the body of Christ.
Until we are honest about the fact that the body of Christ does not look like most of our churches, we cannot be honest about the fact that most of the world could care less what the church is. The days of passive acceptance of religious loons is over. People are now turning against the church - some outside the church believe organized religion is a scourge that should be cleansed.
And I would agree.
I need you.
* A healthy body of Christ is concerned about unity, equality, and empathy. Yes, yes, yes, church exists for saving the lost, being in mission, reaching out, etc. Say it however you want. I'm not talking about Christians dealing with non-Christians (which Jesus is clear about too, I think) but instead how people who profess to follow Jesus say so with their lips and deny him with their lifestyle. There are many Christians who don't even have to focus on the "outsiders" - their attention is on other Christians. They are too busy sowing seeds of discord, lifting high their own idols, or trampling other Christians underfoot that outsiders aren't a target, and they are glad! They don't want these angry, depressed, insensitive Christians unleashed on the world any more than Jesus would! Specific examples for you: Unity - one body, one baptism, one creator, one savior, one faith. How much clearer can you get? Equality - 1 Corinthians 12:20-27; Empathy - Galatians 6:1-5