In nearly every church in America, pews fill with churchgoers who practice “religion” but they only do so on Sundays and before the pews are cold, before they leave the church grounds, they revert to their old ways of living, conforming to the ways of the world. So many professed Christians are consumed with their worldly possessions and future plans. Yet, they have no burden for lost sinners. Sadly, many do not care; they simply think that going to church on Sunday is enough. But is it? Worship is not done in the church; it is done on the mission field of life. That is it starts outside the door of the church when you return to the dusty roads of the world. That is where true worship begins; it starts in doing the Will of God allowing your life to witness to the worldly. Do not get me wrong these “church” people are legitimately good people. They carry and quote their bibles, they frequently attend church; regularly participate in tithes and offerings. They go on mission trips, they are legitimate “church members” yet, there is no tangible relationship with Jesus outside of the church doors and they have become very comfortable with their façade. Worse still, they are not producing any fruit whatsoever.
Palm Sunday begins the Holy Week. It was on Palm Sunday that the Pharisees ordered Jesus to silence the crowd’s joyful praises (Luke 19:37–39). The nation of Israel had failed to exercise their faith in Jesus. They had a visible profession of being faithful as many of them were waving palm leaves as He entered their city, yet the Jewish people were not very productive when it came to practicing their faith, they were essentially fruitless.
Following His arrival in Jerusalem, Jesus spent Sunday night in Bethany, the village at the foot of Mount Olives where His friend Lazarus lives. As Jesus returned on Monday to Jerusalem, He noticed a fig tree that had produced leaves ahead of season. Jesus knew fig trees bear fruit twice a year — in June and September. This was April, so even the un-ripened fruit should have remained for Him to eat. However, since the fig tree bore leaves, He expected to find figs, yet it was fruitless. The barren fig tree is a symbol of those who think only of outward goodness which does not come from the heart (Matthew 21:18-22). Jesus cursed the tree and it withered the next day. The disciples were surprised to see the tree wither so rapidly. Just as Jesus had cursed the fig tree, He would judge a generation that rejected Him (Luke 21:20). “Profession without practice was the curse of the Jews.”
When I was younger, most of my friends were not Christians although their parents were. However, those parents had never trained up their own children in Christianity as the bible teaches we should (Proverbs 22:6). They figured it was the youth pastor’s job. Consequently, most of those kids never chose to follow Jesus themselves. Nevertheless, they knew the “Christian Rules” of don’ts and they went through all the motions giving the appearance of faithfulness. However, there are always many reasons other than Jesus people find to go to church, you know. Your family was there. All your friends were there. The music was good. Youth group activities were often fun. There would be “mission trips” that were just vacations to Mexico. There would be “retreats” that were really just ski trips. Sometimes there was an attractive person in the church youth group whom they you were hoping to impress with your spirituality.
When you become an adult, you quickly realize, “Wow, I don’t have a clue what I believe about God. You soon recognize many adults go to church for very similar reasons as do their children. Someone makes them, your spouse makes you, friends and family attend, and there is good music, good people, good fun, and the possibility of meeting an attractive Christian of the opposite sex. Once you enter the workforce, it adds a multitude of new reasons: You can do some serious work-related networking. If you go to an activist church, you can also do political networking. Church makes you look and feel responsible, or at least more spiritual than your neighbor.
There is no greater truth than the Gospel of Jesus Christ; and sadly, no truth is as neglected. Religion abounds these days; but in most religious circles, the genuine Gospel message is corrupt becoming nothing more than a collection of rules and regulations, a watered down set of do’s and don’ts a Gospel bearing no fruit. The great need of our time is obedient Christians who preach, teach, and live the Gospel. Most churches do not even know what the term “soul-winning” means. God calls the soul-winner “wise” in Proverb 11:30. One of the if not the nearest and dearest thing to the heart of God is soul winning. In Romans 10:15 God calls the feet of His gospel preachers “beautiful”. He says in Luke 8:15 that believers who have “an honest and good heart” will become soul-winners. Something is very wrong with a professed Christian who has no desire to share the Gospel at every opportunity in hopes to bring forth fruit for the Kingdom of God.
Once you become an adult, you realize, “Wow, I don’t have a clue what I believe about God. Now your own kids or members of a new youth generation has questions. What will you tell them?”