Today, I shared out of Ephesians 3:1-13 where Paul shares what the main business of the Church is. Unfortunately, the Church gets caught up in a number of side agendas and forgets or marginalizes the life and mission Christ instructs us to live.
Rather than the Church being radically committed to the Great Commission and the Great Commandment, we often pick-up sidebar agendas and ram them to the front at the expense of our calling. Below are some of the concerns I have for the church:
- Obsession with Social Action.
- Obsession with Comfort.
- Obsession with Prosperity.
- Obsession with the Supernatural.
- Fear of the Supernatural.
- Biblical Illiteracy.
- A prayer life that stops at asking for stuff.
- A personal financial life that ignores God’s plan for your life.
- Unwillingness to be conformed to the Image of Christ.
The antidote is simply shelving personal agendas…dying to ourselves…living to Christ…and continuously allowing the Holy Spirit to convict us of our insistence on ignoring the purpose of the Church in favor of advancing our own desires.
Crowds throng to the flash, the pomp, the explosive, the sensational. We want to see the explosive (dunamis) power of the Holy Spirit. We equate the Holy Spirit with explosive and immediate power. Well, we should. Holy Spirit power is explosive power!
But, it is not only the power to see the extraordinary or Acts 2 revival where thousands are ushered into the Kingdom of God. Holy Spirit power is also the power that compels Philip the Evangelist to leave an explosive Holy Ghost outpouring where 3,000 were saved to a desert road between Jerusalem and Gaza where he stumbled upon an Ethiopian eunuch and led him to Christ.
Philip probably never realized the impact of that moment…perhaps even questioning why God would move him from a fertile Gospel explosion to the desert. But, history shows us that this Ethiopian eunuch likely is the seed that germinated the Gospel in Africa with the Coptic Church tracing it’s origin back to this eunuch.
The continent of Africa can thank God that the Holy Spirit isn’t confined to acts of ecstasy but is free to express Himself on desertous trailways and through men and women that are digging out works in Gospel-hostile lands.
All of us want and crave great spiritual results. But, we ought to desire more greatly to be vehicles that communicate the Gospel where the Gospel most needs communicating. If the tools of that trade more greatly resemble trail boots and a travel sack than a great stage with plenty of “atta-boys”, by all means, let’s embrace a pioneer’s life.
It’s funny how the goal posts have moved. We judge our faith quality by how God blesses us…as if God is the great cosmic pinata and our prayers are the stick that manipulates the candy out of the sky. Seemingly, gone are the days of conquest, spiritual adventure, raw Spirit-empowered engagement, pioneering, and the raising of Gospel outposts in spiritually barren frontiers. Perhaps, we traded it away for a little more luxury, a little less trouble, and an absence of pain or resistance all for a predictable, non-circuitous journey.
I can’t imagine that God’s purpose is to save us to polish us up to make us his sanitized trophies to settle us as dust collectors on His heavenly mantle. We read the adventurous story of the Holy Spirit in Acts 1 & 2 and think of the Holy Spirit as our warm, comfy lap blanket to cuddle with on the couch…a Holy Spirit that gives us the “cozies” after punching the clock…some type of spiritual, pick-me-up. No way! That’s not how I read it.
The Holy Spirit is our radical empowerment that broke into our reality with an uncontainable fuel meant to cause us to come alive in Him, dead to ourselves, and propelled into a black-and-white world with massive and expressive splashes of vivid color swaths.
The Holy Spirit calls us and enables us to live radically and energized among the world, imparting God’s grace generously to others. And, in our soft, entitled way of thinking we’re happy to instead settle for a life of fluffed pillows, softish hands, and microwaveable spirituality…but, it doesn’t have to be.
I shared these thoughts in another forum, speaking primarily to other pastors. But, I think it has some value for us in a general discussion about the church…so that we don’t ever feel that we’ve got it all together. Certainly, we don’t!
|It’s easy for us to face off in different corners of the room advocating style preferences, etc… Styles change. Ministry flavor changes. God never changes. Neither does His calling on us as a people. Let’s not embrace style too tightly. In fact, throw style out the window…unless style alters solid doctrine (then we better have that discussion).
Instead, let’s remember a beautiful heritage that God has called us to.
When I was 17, I was roofing an addition with my Papa on his house in Wimauma. My Nana brought us cokes and we sat on the roof and talked. He paused and said, “Big T, I can take these tools and go anywhere in the world and make a living for my family and build the Kingdom of God.” I knew he was right too. He was the foreman on a really cool construction project among many others when he was younger. Every time, I drive to Miami Beach, I look at the railroad bridge going over to the Port of Miami. I think of my Papa and what he must have looked like when he helped put that bridge together.
Anyway, couched in those words was the fiercely pioneering DNA of a good man of God. He was a Gospel pioneer. At that point he was 69. When he was 72 or so, he built a house by himself. Wow. In my eyes, he was fearless, unafraid, uncompromised, and full of passion…seriously full of passion for Christ, his family, the world, and his church.
Our church family was full of men and women with this steel-eyed, gaze and tenacity. Over time, I’m afraid we’ve grown softer, more privileged, and with a slight bent toward entitlement. We still have men and women like this. In fact, it’s within us all to be giants again. Afterall, look at who our fathers and mothers were.
Remembering our pioneering heritage is not trying to duplicate a style. If my Papa was still alive and he saw me trying to be a younger version of him, he’d probably give me a hard time and tell me to stop being so dull and predictable.
Remembering our pioneering heritage is rediscovery our guts, our fire in the belly, our Gospel passion, our thirst for our cities and cities, towns and hamlets we’ve never seen before. It’s having the gumption to launch out with the promise of little for the hope of many souls coming to Christ. Remembering our pioneering heritage is being counter-cultural and challenging people to so fall in love with Christ that they lose their love for the things that previously captivated them.
If we aren’t careful, we’ll become dull children of prosperity, so far removed from the passion that drove our pioneers that we will not create anything new- no new churches, no new radical disciples, no new ruckuses, bruised knuckles, and skinned egos.
I believe each one of us in our unique giftings, personalities, and postures, relying completely on a powerful Holy Spirit can get a fresh taste of the unexplored frontier in our bellies and become new pioneers…doing what is already in our DNA to do. In that, there’s a Gospel revolution waiting to happen…waiting to be carried on…waiting to be passed down to more kids who are piddling around with their Papa being challenged to attempt to do the impossible that becomes probable when the Holy Spirit saturates our souls.