Photo by Marion Vendituoli

Everything has changed for Christians and for churches.

We may not like it. We may long for the “good old days.” But we don’t live in the 50’s anymore. Back then, everyone went to church because that was the cultural norm in America. Churches were universally respected by those in the community, even if they didn’t attend themselves.

But, the reality is that everything has changed in the new millennium. The change began incrementally in
the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. And then the pace of change in
American culture went into overdrive as we turned the calendar to the new millennium.

This means that the need for Christians and churches to adjust is staring us in the face.

Granted, it’s easier to moan and groan about it than to actually change. But, whining about it will not reverse the growing tsunami of disdain for Christians and churches.

So, like it or not, Christ-followers and churches must adjust to the new reality. No, I’m not advocating that we reinterpret the Bible. The Word of God is unchanging (Isaiah 40:8)
because our great God is unchanging (Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8).

What must we do? With apologies to Michael J. Fox and Hollywood, we must go “Back to the Future.” We must go back to the New Testament Book of Acts, because the first-century church faced exactly what we face today: a smorgasbord of indifference, hate, ridicule, and persecution.

We must do just what the first-century church did. They imitated Christ. Twenty centuries later, we must do the same. We must do just what Jesus did, because Scripture instructs us to be imitators of Christ (Ephesians 5:1).

So, Christ-followers and churches today must refrain from name-calling and finger-pointing. No demonizing. No hate. When we disagree with others in our community, we disagree politely and without rancor. The Bible reminds us that our enemy is not our
fellow man (“those people”), but Satan and his minions (Ephesians 6:12).

The greatest thing proactively that Christ-followers and churches must do is “love.” Obviously, we must love the Lord (Matthew 22:37-38). In addition, we must love our fellow Christians (John 13:34-35), even if we disagree on a theological position.

But we also must love those who are not like us (Luke 10:25-37). Jesus goes so far as to instruct us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:43-48).

What our world needs to see today is Christ-followers and churches that live a life of love. What our world needs to experience today is Christ-followers and churches that actively care for people (love!) like Jesus does.

The song was written and recorded 53 years ago by Hal David and Burt Bacharach. But the lyrics still speak to us today: “What the world needs now, is love, true love . . .” And, that
“true love” is best personified in Jesus Christ. Let’s be imitators of Christ!

Editor’s Note: David Daffern began serving the community in July 2015 as pastor of Sonoita Hills Community Church in Elgin. He can be reached at 520-427-6160