Times Have Certainly Changed
When I was young (yes, there was such a time once) churches and Christians were respected for their morals, honesty, integrity, and for being hard workers. Negative comments were basically limited to the name "Bible thumper" and the objection to Christianity was that people wanted to "have fun" while failing to understand the joy only Christians know.
Everyone saved or not, knew what a church was. Then came various groups calling themselves "churches" like the church of satan, the church of scientology and others who do not hold to Christian doctrine. There were denominations but the labels only designated differences in the church service such as Lutherans having a liturgy and Baptists not having one. Methodists had one form of church government and Presbyterians had another and Congregationalists yet another form of church government. In spite of their differences, they believed the Bible, in the family, and patriotism. Churches spoke against the doctrine of communism instead of supporting socialist ideals. Israel was considered a miracle and an ally not an occupier. Fathers were fathers and mothers were mothers. No one had two of the same.
Today, most of that has changed. In the area where I live we have had the "Church of Pleasure". Anyone could "join" for a fee and then select a priest or priestess for a private pleasure session. It was eventually closed because of prostitution charges. Another "church" held services which included the use of mind altering drugs. The phone book has listing after listing of various groups that should not be under the catagory of "churches".
Society today has a very negative opinion of Christians and the church which they are quick and eager to state. Christians are considered not only old fashioned, but prejudiced. We are accused of hating all who are different from us. We are called war mongers and accused of destroying the planet. The fact that the church has built thousands of schools, hospitals, and orphanages around the world as well as our feeding and aid programs is completely ignored. Instead, we are accused of using these to enslave the minds of those we serve. Some in our government even consider us dangerous and possible terrorist threats.
Textual criticism and modern thinking have watered down and changed the basic Christian teachings in shocking ways with tragic results. We old timers never thought we would one day find that half of the church members have been divorced, that forty percent of the women in the average church have had an abortion, or the sixty percent of the men and a growing number of women admit to being hooked on pornography.
Today some ministers counsel women to have abortions and congregations hold celebrations when another state legalizes same sex marriage. Joint services are held with leaders of all different "faith groups" leading "worship" as though they were several Christian congregations coming together for a community hymn sing and proclaiming that all faiths are the same. Congregations used to hold patriotic services on patriotic holidays instead of anti-war rallies. Thanksgiving services involved humbly thanking God for His blessings regardless of one's wealth and not in unveiling some new scheme to use in order to get more from God.
Christians are not perfect! The church was not perfect when I was young, but it is not improving. It is not a matter of going back to "the good old days" but of moving forward to being the church, and Christian, God wants us to be. The answer is not closing the church doors, but in confession and repentance. Meeting on Sunday mornings does not make a group a true church of Jesus Christ. He builds His church - not men with their own programs (regardless of how many people they can get to come). Jesus was speaking to Christians when He talked about spewing them out of His mouth (Revelation 3:16). He also told them how to be acceptable to Him. Advice we need to follow today.
The worst possible thing that can happen to anyone is to hear Christ say "I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity" (Matthew 7:23).
Little by little, we lost sight of the fact that in scripture God's people and the world were always two separate groups. Some decided that they should be like the world in order for the world to accept or at least tolerate them. Our lights will fail to shine for all to see if we keep compromising and dimming them. We must allow God to cleanse us on the inside. It is time when we have to make a choice whether we are going to truly follow Him regardless of the cost, or if we are only interested in the miracles and what He can do for us when we make our requests. It involves an old fashioned Christian concept - denying self and surrendering to the Lord.