Thursday, May 04, 2006

Enter the wild

What will the future of the church in North America be? Will we follow the path so sadly blazed by the church in Europe? Will we become only a footnote in the history that is yet to be written?
How long will it be until local municipalities will be taxing church buildings, and ministry facilities. Consider health care costs that increase and school boards struggling to find additional revenue sources without raising taxes, what will happen to churches in this case. How long until churches no longer have non-profit status? While many of these scenarios may seem off in the distant future, they are not so far off to think we can ignore them. As the church continues to be pushed to the side of the public square, we will have fewer and fewer ways to help shape the cultural conversation of our time. The pressures on the church are not only external, but also internal.
The pressures stressing the church abound. We are increasingly assailed by busy schedules, and demands on our time. We are connected all the time via the web, mobile phones and wireless devices, and yet people are lonely and our communities are increasingly disconnected. I am convinced that in the Body of Christ we have some answers for these pressures on our lives, but do we want to hear what the spirit has to say? In this time of excess activity, the church seems to be offering only more and more activity for an already complex and busy schedule. In many churches activities are divided into age brackets and families are scattered for purpose of ministry. Is the answer to waning church attendance more activity? Do people of faith need more to do? Will increasing our schedules fill the void that is there in our hearts, that whisper that says, “There is more to life than this!”
Yet, many followers of Jesus seem to posses a shallow faith. Walk through just about any store selling Christian books and see how much is, for lack of a better term fluff, more activity and less deepening of our relationship with Christ Jesus. We can observe, in those same stores, the marketing of the faith, copywrited and protected intellectual property of individual members of the Body of Christ, but not the collective property of the body of Christ. Does something seem amiss? What if Matthew, Mark, Luke John or Paul would have protected their intellectual property?
If there is no more than just a quick baptism after a sinners prayer, I do not want to have part of such a faith. I want more, I want the life of the spirit, I want the deep connection with my God, I want the tongues, the flames and full life in Christ. If you are honest with yourself, don’t you want more than just a superficial faith? Don’t you want to be enlivened by the Holy Spirit of God, don’t you want to live that life of faith that burns so brightly that nothing else can stand in its presence. Don’t you want the courage of the martyrs of the early church who faced death and sang to the Lord God praises for being counted worthy to suffer for the name of Jesus. Doesn’t your heart yearn for that wild, uncivilized, undomesticated bliss of a deep and powerful relationship with the Living God?
My heart, that deepest part of me, tells me there is more, that there is something beyond what I have found, that if I am willing to take the next step of faith that God will open to me even more. I suppose that this is the point where I have to be willing to allow the Spirit of God to continue my own transformation, my life being reformed by the hand of God to reflect the life of Jesus. It is also this point where I want to cling to my own agenda, to change the things about me that I want changed, and to keep those things that I like. It is the time when I must cast down more idols, more of my selfish pagan tendencies, like gluttony, lust, avarice, selfishness, pride, vainglory and the rest of those personal idols that keep us from growing into a deeper relationship with the Almighty. There is no real mystery about how to grow in faith. We like to cloak it in mystery because if we don’t know, how can we be responsible for the that transformation that never happened? So, we can contend with God that it was beyond us to understand. God will not allow such a ruse to stop our growth, he calls us to account and will not allow us to hide behind professed ignorance.
The truth is we all know the next step, we are just fearful of what we may have to let go. The next step for each of us is different because we are all in different stages of our growth in faith, however, the primary block to growth is always our own selfishness. This is what I want! Is our creed, but the question we need to be asking is, “What does God want?” “When what does God want?” becomes our creed, our lives will change. And the remarkable thing is that those longings of our hearts will be answered, the desires of our hearts will be achieved not by what we do, but by what God does in us.

1 comment:

Suzanne said...

Amen brother!!!!

Your passion for God is very evident. Your desire to be Christ-like and to experience all that God has for you and exciting!

Good things will come!