Let me be clear, this is not directed towards any one person. This is a general caution for all of us, me included. Only God knows each of our hearts. I love the Evangelical Church. I love the Organic Church. I love the Simple Church. I love the Missional Church. I belong to one of these Churches. But I wish to caution those who are involved in these movements. I want to caution those who are seeking to change the world. Please hear the cry of my heart and judge for yourself.
Today, there are portions of the Church world that are falling into a trap of despair that is baited with good intentions. They seem to think that if we could just somehow rid the Church of religious trappings, man-made traditions, religious language, re-discover the power of God, return to the book of Acts, (this is all good) that people would come to Jesus in droves, and we would turn the world upside down. They think if we could somehow become clearer representatives of Christ, then we would see the results we so desire. Neil Cole in his book, “Organic Church” expresses the underlying motivation of many leaders today by saying, “It is not enough to fill our churches; we must transform our world.” He goes on to say that the only reason for changing the Church is so that we can change the world. This is a very good and noble intention, but God never promised these type of results, and we should never be motivated by that which God never promises or asks us to strive towards (more on this later in the following paragraphs). Embracing the idea that we will transform the world will lead to striving, sadness, and hope that is deferred. This is a hope that is partly set on the belief that mankind will overall embrace light and turn from darkness. Do not set your hope on man.
When men clearly see Jesus, we will clearly see more rejection than repentance.
- He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. He was despised and rejected of men.
- The villages of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum rejected Jesus outright. (Matt. 11:23, Lk. 10:13-15)
- Jesus was rejected by the Samaritan Village Luke 9:51-56
- Many of His disciples clocked out and quit (John 6: 60-66)
In the end, there were more yelling, “Crucify Him”, than there were those spreading palms crying, “Hosanna to the Son of David”. Jesus wasn’t just crucified by the religious crowd. We focus too much on that. It was the world that rejected Him, and Gentiles that nailed Him. He was a friend of sinners, but the world did not befriend Him. (Jn. 7:7, 1Jn 2:15) While it is true that the Church has done things to obscure the message of Christ, do not be fooled into thinking that the majority of the world is going to embrace the truth of Jesus. Does this mean that we shouldn’t mingle and witness? God forbid. We must witness! But understand this. God loves truth, and Man hates truth. God will drown the lost before He will bend the truth. God’s love for man flows from His love for the truth. God will reject man before He will reject truth. God is Love, but He loved truth before man existed (For more, see the post, “God is Love…For What??? A Response to Rob Bell”). Jesus is still hated by all men because man hates truth.
Although thousands turned to Christ in the book of Acts, you have to wonder about the overall percentages. Is there anything in Scripture that ever indicates that the majority of the population that heard the Gospel fully repented? In the O.T. you have instances where Nineveh repented, cities repented, and even nations repented…yet the majority of the world continued in darkness. While it is true that many are in darkness because they have never heard the gospel, are we ever promised that we will transform the world? Some have taken the promise of God’s intention and purpose in 2 Chron. 7: 14 and have turned it into a formula for our emPOWERment. We have turned Habakkuk 2: 14 on its head! The Bible talks more about the righteous in terms of Remnants rather than Majorities.
The Bible makes a clear ruling about the overall state of man, and what our expectation should be. It says it like this: This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Are men somehow different today? Should we qualify this passage to mean something that only referred to a certain people or era? Jesus never promised that we would win the world, the majority, or anything that looked like many. “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” He will “give us the heathen for our inheritance”…But not all of them. As the Church seeks to remove man-made traditions and return to a purer representation of Christ, what should we expect to be the result? Here is a precious promise from the Bible that we need to remember. It says in 2 Timothy, “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” Name it and claim it and post that on your church sign! LOL
We were never called to transform, or overhaul the world. WHAT? That’s right. The “Great Commission” never promises or even suggests a world-encompassing majority makeover. Yet, the goal of “transforming our world” has been preached and elevated to the point that some of us are nearly brainwashed into believing that is what the Bible says. Stop it. God never made us that kind of promise, or gave that type of command. When the Bible addresses Jason as being one who has turned the world upside down, it is not talking primarily about majority conversions. Again, the “Great Commission” doesn’t make that kind of promise. The ambitious Apostle Paul did not fall into that mindset either. Paul said, I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save SOME. Be mindful that Paul was motivated by obedience and not results. I would be afraid to set my expectations beyond the Bible. We are called to be salt, light in the darkness, and witnesses. Salt preserves but doesn’t come anywhere close to bringing metamorphosis. When Jesus was calling us the “light of the world”, He didn’t use the Sun to describe us (but that is how we think). He didn’t use a bonfire either; instead, He used something very small like a lamp that you can put on a stand. We are called to be His witnesses, but He does the saving and transforming. Salt, lamps, witnesses. These are not the words you use for world-wide metamorphosis. These are remnant words. Putting words into God’s mouth and striving to fulfill what God has never promised leads into unfulfilled expectations and a bitter end that actually destroys our very witness. It is a dangerous thing to make changes in the church simply for the sake of results. Changes must be made for the sake of obedience unto Christ. We can only find rest when we simply pray, obey, and completely leave the results totally in God’s hands.
I think that it is great to rid the church of useless traditions and things that obscure the Gospel. I think it is great to purify and return to being what we are truly called to be. We must get out and be the salt, light, and witness. But don’t do it for the sake of results. Don’t do it thinking that we are going to have results that are different from what is promised in Scripture. We may indeed reap a harvest, but don’t fool yourselves into thinking that is the reason for making these changes. Make these changes out of obedience to Christ and leave the results up to God. Making changes for the sole motive of yielding a greater harvest of souls is a motive that you were never called to chase. It sounds really, really good, but God never intended for you or me to carry that load. On the other hand, making changes for the sole motive of obedience which may lead to a greater harvest of souls is just fine. You do what you are supposed to do and be satisfied with that regardless of the results. You can’t make anyone come to Christ. You plant seed, you obey, but He brings the harvest. You were not called to determine the 30, 60, or 100 fold results. It is out of your control. Don’t focus on results. Make changes for the sole motive of yielding in obedience to Christ, and don’t focus on the results. God knows how crushing and focus-altering that the mistake of looking for results can be. Looking for results can hinder the practice of obedience and can lead to feelings of either pride or bitter disappointment. If you are obeying God and getting few results, don’t change from your obedience to get better results. Focus on obeying and pleasing God by faith. If He calls you to make changes, then change. But do not change for the sake of results, thinking that He wants results rather than obedience. Do not become like the man of God from Judah who heard the voice of another true prophet (1 Kings 13) and obeyed that voice rather than hearing from God for himself. This man was eaten alive by lions! It is not enough to simply heed the voice of other true prophets and follow the latest cutting-edge church trend, you must hear from God for yourself and obey regardless of what “seems” right. Do not make changes for the purpose or hope of changing the world around you. Do it for obedience and obedience alone, and stay the course if that is what God has called you to do…regardless of results. Preachers get unreal when they base their success upon how well they have filled the pews. Doing things and making changes for the sake of results would have crushed the ministry of Jeremiah. Jeremiah had no converts, no revivals and no one heeded his message…Yet he was successful in the eyes of God. God didn’t measure Jeremiah by “results”, he was measured by obedient faith. God isn’t interested in your striving for results; He’s interested in your resulting obedience…And you can rest on that.
Defrosting Windows by defrostingwindows.wordpress.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.