Because of shallow, half-hearted relationships to Jesus Christ, the toleration of sinful behavior, and the lack of church-discipline, people have no conviction when it comes to confrontation about their spiritual walks. Many among the “Disenfranchised” Christians, find it of no avail to be confronted concerning their loose behavior, nor do they find it of any immediate perniciousness to their lives to neglect being and participating in the Community of Christ. To the Disenfranchised, there must be some “monetary” benefit derived out of being a part of the “Community of Christ”. Unless the Disenfranchised find monetary benefit, which is nothing more than finding a cause they believe in, then they will continue to disown their elder’s community. For many churches, they see that the best way to sustain the interest in “Monetary Benefit” is to formulate Entertainment-driven-venues, where the medium that is conveyed is in line with the current culture. Hence, once the medium is removed, so do the disenfranchised. What must be rooted far, far deeper into the hearts of many Christians, not just the Disenfranchised, is a total commitment to their relationship with Jesus Christ and a desire to experience and flourish in it. Until that is cultivated in the hearts of Christians, it does not matter what program, worship-service, or event, or what cultural medium it is conveyed along: people will not be dedicated through thick-and-thin to a cause they do not believe in.
Christians must see that to be disconnected from the church body/Christian community is to send oneself into the enemies ranks alone and naked. They must see that in order for their spiritual lives to flourish, they must be in connection with other believers. But undergirding this all, as stated before, is the commitment to Jesus Christ. If there is no commitment to Jesus Christ, or at least a shallow one, then there will be no commitment to pursue community with other believers. They will not see the correlation and therefore see no cost to not being in the Community of Christ.
The primary importance of the Church leaders is to cultivate and promote full, undivided devotion and commitment to Jesus Christ, willing to sacrifice all and follow Jesus into the trenches for the greatest cause in all creation. There will be no true joy in Christ’s followers if they are sustained on a lackadaisical, shallow attitude concerning their relationships with Christ, and it must be our goal to drive Christians deeper in their relationship with Jesus Christ. We must send out the calls of Christ of “dying to self” and “hating father and mother” and “renouncing all that one has” because if those calls are not resounded, then the church will believe that they do not have to sacrifice all, that it is not necessary to “take up their cross daily” and follow Jesus Christ, which is exactly what we see today.
For our American Christian culture, there is nothing more pernicious than it’s current stupor into defending and cherishing their pleasure and possessions. We must probe first into our own souls, inquiring into the depths of Christ’s commands of discipleship – We must bear our own cross and come after Christ, if we do not, he tells us we cannot be called his disciple. We must lift this banner before our people as well, and remind them, as Christ did, that they must “count the cost” of following Christ. I fear too many have not counted that cost and have entered into discipleship with Jesus Christ, of whom it will be said, “This man began to build and was not able to finish”.
This will have one of two effects. The results in numbers will be staggering, in either direction. The less likely situation is that the church will grow. But if it does, it will flourish, because the relationships born will be founded on solid ground and watered in a rich environment. People will be coming to churches longing to flourish in their relationships with Christ, ready and willing to lay aside “the sin that so easily entangles”. They will see the great benefit of fellowship and participating with other believers in Community and want to be apart of the great cause of Jesus Christ.
But, sadly, the more likely result is that the church will dwindle at a rather quick rate. As we see when Jesus issues his most difficult calls, people left at alarming rates. Nothing is more repulsive to an unrepentant heart than to be called to sacrifice its hope in worldly pleasure. And as we lift the truth of the cost of the cross, then we will see the winnowing fork of the Father, the pruning hand going through his fields, weeding and cutting off anyone who is not sustained on Jesus Christ.
There may be many in our congregations crying out against such an action, but if they endure, then they will in the end only rejoice. They will be grateful that men and women stood up and spoke frankly in love of the goodness of God and emptiness of the world. They will be grateful when they find Christ being magnified in their lives. It is not in our hands to discern the hearts of men, but it is in our hands to say in the light what Christ has said in the dark, and proclaim on the housetops what Christ has whispered to us. It is only the word of God that will discern men’s hearts. So since we can’t discern, we can proclaim, and see the results of the Spirit, since God’s word never returns empty.
And if we have any hope of believers being concerned about estrangement from the Community of Christ, then we must first begin by calling them to commitment to Christ, or else they will never seek to be a part of that community when all other fleshly desires fade. To reach the Disenfranchised, we must offer them “monetary” benefit. That monetary benefit is the joy of knowing and experiencing a life with and in Jesus Christ, as Paul so earnestly speaks of in Philippians 3:7-8. But they must understand, and we must communicate, that that monetary benefit only comes through sacrifice and renouncing. If they reject that, then they were never disenfranchised, they were simply unrepentant.