I turned on the radio this morning to try to find some morning start-up music, and was instead faced with a puzzling question regarding those professing Christ in these modern times. A question regarding modern Christianity wasn’t what I was in the mood for, but like so many times when I turn on christian radio, it is what I got. The local Christian station was broadcasting the song, “If we are the Body” by Casting Crowns. I am guessing most readers are familiar with it, but for those who are not, take a look at the lyrics of the main chorus:
But if we are the body
Why aren’t His arms reaching?
Why aren’t His hands healing?
Why aren’t His words teaching?
And if we are the body
Why aren’t His feet going?
Why is His love not showing them there is a way?
I am no expert regarding the music industry nor its’ marketplace, but I do know this is a popular song and has been for a few years now. It seems to resonate with people. They hear this song and it seems to address what they see around them in their Christian sub-culture. When a song (any song in any culture) becomes popular, it is because people identify with it. So if people are identifying with the message of this song, what exactly is it about the message of this song that resonates with people? I think it can be said with confidence that the songwriter is lamenting the fact that there is no or little visible fruit from the modern church he sees around him. Is this what is resonating with people? The lack of visible fruit from those professing Christ? Yes, it is.
So here is the question I was forced to ask myself. Why are those professing Christ not recognizing this sad state of affairs for what it is? Look at what Jesus said about the lack of fruit: Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Matthew 7:16-18
The lack of fruit on a massive scale (which is why it resonates with people) isn’t just a bit of weak spot in the modern church, it is a sign that the tree isn’t a fruit tree. And why is that? The modern Church has abandoned the message of sin and guilt before God because it is too uncomfortable. It doesn’t “bring em’ in”. Without the knowledge of guilt, we don’t understand the need for Christ to bear our punishment and give us pardon, and so that message is rarely discussed either, or at least, not in-depth. We have abandoned the message the King told us to deliver and instead we have cultivated a decorative garden. We have planted very pretty ornamental trees all around the land and called them fruit trees, but they aren’t fruit trees. So when a songwriter begins to sing about missing fruit, it really resonates with folks. Everyone knows the fruit is missing, but why is everyone surprised? Do we really expect to see fruit on pine trees, or pears on maples? If a church isn’t preaching the law and the gospel, if they aren’t preaching Christ crucified (and why), then they aren’t a church. It doesn’t matter what they call themselves. And if they aren’t a church, why is it surprising that Christian fruit is nowhere to be found? Looking at this song in light of scripture gives a whole new meaning to the question, “If we are the body”, doesn’t it?