Have you been watching the news that is coming out of the Mid-East, Africa and Europe lately? It seems as if one act of barbaric aggression is soon followed by an even greater display of violence and evil against the innocent. Women and children, the old and the unfortunate who are disabled, have become targets of religious zealots and the conquest of national expansion. Ebola outbreaks, political corruption, world economies being shaken and the rise of anti-Semitism have all catapulted us into a new era. Even the global increase in catastrophic weather is hard to take in at times. It’s as if a switch was flipped somewhere, and it plunged the world into a deadly, downward spiral.
Here in the United States we are, for the most part, so far removed from these events that they don’t seem real. News correspondents on location report the events and we shake our heads in disbelief. Then, when it’s over, we turn the TV off and “poof”, it all goes away. Our world comes back into focus and the suffering of humanity fades into the distance. We get up for our next cup of coffee, eat another piece of dessert and lean back in our comfortable chair feeling irritated because our favorite show has changed time slots or, God forbid, has been cancelled.
This sums up my deep concerns for the church in America. We have been given so much for so long, and been so well protected, that the bulk of our activities seem to be built around what works for us. Are we comfortable? Is our church growing? Do we have internet appeal to attract new people? Are we doing the newest songs in worship? Do people feel welcomed when they come into church? Is the preaching entertaining enough to keep the attention of the people? What services does the church offer so people will want to be there? Do we have a Café and free WIFI? Is the service too long or too radical and scaring people off? In other words, we have been influenced by the world into a “consumer mentality” when it comes to the Kingdom of God. Yes, specific churches may be growing but the end results may not be what we bargained for.
We now have growth experts that can come in and tell us what to change so our church will start to explode numerically. We have financial experts that will teach us how to increase the giving. We have worship experts that can instruct on how to get the most out of worship and fire up the congregation. There are experts on the gifts that will come in and do seminars and activate the gifts and identify the callings of congregation members. The list just goes on and on. Yet I have a question in all of this and it is quite simple. Is this how Jesus said He would build His church so that it would last? The answer is a definitive NO!
How do you see Jesus and His disciples building His Church? Surely they must have been doing seminars, advertising aggressively, providing free donuts and coffee. Most certainly they must have brought in the big name preachers to draw in the masses. They had to have sent out bulk mailings to get those big offerings in order to begin their next building project and expand “the vision”. When we look at Scripture none of these current trends were being used yet the church was growing somehow, and multiplying to the point where it shook up the whole world.
What were they doing that brought about such explosive, lasting growth? Well first of all Jesus said His house would be a house of prayer, so that means they prayed! Imagine what your church might be like if people had a passion to pray. Consider the impact on everyone if they all built a deep relationship with God and got His heart before they did anything. Secondly they released praise and worship up to God at all times. Think of Paul and Silas, or think of David and you will understand the power that was tapped into through praise and worship. It delivers and sets the captives free. Finally it was obedience. When we do whatever He says to do we will get abundant and lasting results He say we will !
If you have been questioning why you are here and what you can do to move into the next phase of life, let me suggest the above. It was what Jesus and his disciples used and there is little doubt that it will be what God can use in your life as well. Surrender your life to prayer and build a deeper relationship with Him. Surrender your life to praise and worship so you can rise above the controlling circumstances of this world. Surrender your will to obey His and the results may just shock you.
The world around us may be falling apart but we don’t have to. There may be wars and distress upon the earth but when we surrender our all to God, for us the war is over. From that place of rest we can see and hear His voice more clearly and then be an agent in His hands to do the works He has given us to do. Are you needing vision? Are you frustrated with the church and with the life you have? The answer you are looking for is right at hand. Surrender and be used by God for great and mighty things !