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Yesterday, we saw the solar eclipse, an event that media talked about for weeks. People traveled from around the world in order to see it. All of this publicity has made me think about "eclipses" in the church—that is, those things that seem to block the Son. Here are some that come to mind:
- Unrepentant hearts. When we choose not to turn from our sin, we hinder God's work and turn our attention from the saving grace of God's Son.
- Personal agendas. It's tough to honor the Son and defend our own turf at the same time.
- Gospel-less preaching. You'd hope that it doesn't happen, but it does. A message that never gets to the gospel neglects Jesus.
- Congregational division. The congregation that's continually fighting among themselves cannot be pointing others to Jesus.
- False gospels. Preach the wrong gospel, and you probably eclipse Jesus all together.
- Kingdom building. Broadcasting our own achievements so we build our own kingdoms rather than God's kingdom robs Christ of His glory.
- Bad teaching. Some teaching is so poorly done that it's almost impossible to follow its train of thought—and seldom does it clearly point to Jesus.
- "Tradition idolatry." I'm not at all opposed to tradition, but some churches allow an unhealthy traditionalism to get in the way of clearly proclaiming Jesus to a non-believing world.
- Unspoken pluralism. That is, many churches have members who believe there are multiple ways to God—in addition to a personal relationship with Jesus—though they seldom admit that belief publicly.
- Directionless small groups. A small group that has no intentional guidance and accountability will likely wander in multiple directions, and seldom will it default into a deep focus on Jesus.
What other causes of eclipses in the church come to mind for you?
Chuck Lawless is dean and vice president of graduate studies and ministry centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, where he also serves as professor of evangelism and missions. In addition, he is global theological education consultant for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
This article originally appeared at chucklawless.com.
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