Many years ago, when the Lord first spoke to me He told me very clearly “Luther wasn’t done” meaning that the reformation that was begun by Martin Luther was not a completed work and more needs to be done to get the church back to where it needs to be.
Thanks to the work of Martin Luther, and others like him, we have made some progress. The believer no longer has to “buy” his way out of “purgatory”. The believer has the Word of God back in their hands. We have corporate hymn singing and worship (which was not a part of church service before Luther), and many other things that have brought us closer to operating as the first century church did and we have also made some advancements that have honored God. However, more needs to be done. It seems to me that after Luther the only major change that the church has made is splitting into a ton of different denominations. Oh sure, there have been some changes and some modernizations, that is to be expected, but when it comes to major, positive, revolutionary changes in the church, it’s been close to 500 years since anything really significant has happened, anything positive anyway. Oh, there have been some major changes, we have gone from preaching a message of true repentance and freedom from sin to the “good news” meaning that “God will solve all of your problems and He has a wonderful plan for your life, now, let’s pray for all of the troubled lives in the congregation.” and nobody notices the dichotomy!?! We have gone from seeing drastically changed lives that bear witness to a Holy and loving God to hearing such quotes as this one “The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips then walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” (DC Talk) We have gone from a meeting place where people go to not only worship God but to also grow more intimate with Him and learn to discern His will and learn how to expand His Kingdom and promote His righteousness, to what we are now which is little more than a consumer friendly country club where people go to hear a weekly motivational speech and feel better about themselves. We have gone from seeking first His Kingdom and His righteousness to following marketing trends and consumer statistics. We have gone from meaningful food that sustains and glorifies to being a consumer oriented “McChurch”. We have gone from a grand army of soul winners to a bunch of self-centered, complacent pew potatoes.
I don’t want to be all negative and keep hammering a bent nail here, so let’s move on to some specifics of how we can change, let’s open the window and let the light of hope in shall we? There are many different things that need to change but let’s start with just three areas of change that will influence on a large scale. I will list these three, and then give a basic overview and then in coming months we will delve into each topic in depth. The three basic areas of change are; the ministry of the believer, the unity of believers and the power of the believer.
Some have the attitude that the ministry of the believer has been realized but it has not. Yes, the average believer has the Word of God in his hands and is no longer bound by some of the legalism of the past. Also, the average believer can easily become involved in some form of helps ministry in the church. However, when it comes to seeking and saving the lost or preaching and teaching to equip the saints, there is still a pervasive attitude of complacency and inactivity. The world has this attitude of leaving things up to the hired professional. In these days, people rarely handle all of their own responsibilities; they just “call the guy”. The church is no different and many people leave the work of the Kingdom of Heaven up to “the guy” or in this case, the leadership of the church. The truth of the matter is that every single born again posterior that is polishing a pew is indeed a minister. That’s right, hear this and understand, if you are a true born again believer you are a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the leadership in the church are merely administers who are called and equipped to help you do your job. Of course, this is a two way street and too many people in leadership in the church have forgotten that it is not all about them. Many in leadership have this notion that only they can do all that they do in the church and that the church revolves around them. If you don’t believe me just go up to your pastor this Sunday and tell him that the Lord has given you a message to share with the church and that you would like to preach next Sunday. Just a hint, don’t hold your hand on your backside while you wait to make it to the pulpit to share, your hand will surely grow there while you wait.
When it comes to the unity of the believers there is so much work to be done. Not only am I talking about getting past denominational differences and biases, but you also just don’t see believers forming a united front to take on the work of the Kingdom of Heaven like we should. We again have a great degree of complacency in this area. An example of this is in another area that greatly lacks unity, the area of giving. People bring their “treasure to the storehouse” and give on Sundays, which is usually way below ten percent, but Monday thru Saturday they just get on with their own lives and again expect “the guy” to do the loaves and fishes thing with there miniscule offering. You just don’t see the church operating like you read in scripture such as; “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had.” (Acts 4:32) This is not just about money either, I’m also talking about sharing ALL resources and networking together and acting as a team instead of a bunch of individuals who meet once per week then go their separate ways. There used to be an attitude of “all for one and one for all”, but it has been replaced with an attitude of “all for me and none for you”. Think about it, it was over 2000 years ago and a dozen guys who were united in their efforts took this world by storm in the name of Christ Jesus. Think of what we could accomplish with all of our resources, all of our technology and all of our numbers if we would only unite better.
When we get to Heaven I believe that we will have three great surprises; the things we did that we thought were Ok but actually displeased God, the things we didn’t do because we thought that they would displease God but God was actually OK with it, and the power we had available to us that we didn’t use. Most Christians today are like unarmed policemen, they have their Christian uniform on, their badge and shoes are all shined up, their hat is on just so, they have all of their seams straight and look real good, but they are walking around without a gun, or handcuffs, or a protective vest, or a radio, there is no squad car or backup in sight, they don’t even have a billy-club. Jesus said that we would do all that He did and more but we don’t even do a fraction of what He did. The power of prayer is the power of God but the church is, by and large, ineffectual in this area.
I will be going more into detail on these three changes in coming devotionals, but I aim to show that progress in these three areas will not only change the church, but also change the world as the church once again becomes an effective witness for Christ. We have gotten away from seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and have become seekers of our own happiness. Happiness is good, but true happiness for me is not only knowing that my eternal destination is no longer the pits of hell, but also knowing that my family, friends and neighbors are also “Heaven Bound”.
May the LORD bless you and keep you; and may the LORD make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you.
Please feel free to forward this to anyone who may be interested.
A devotional by:
Rev. Kirk B. Steward