THE CHURCH ON FIRE
To say that we are living in a volatile time is an understatement. Never in my lifetime have I encountered such a tense undercurrent in our culture. The matters are serious, the voices are loud, the movement is intense, the buy-in is vast. (Apologies if I am lumping things together but I have a point in this.) People are drawn to the social justice issue, not only because there is an issue that needs to be addressed, but because it has meaning; and people who are moving and leading in it are feeling it at a DEEP level.
There are many other issues people are “fighting” for at a deep level – masks (wearing them or not wearing them), the impending return to school or another season of distance learning (and what different sides of the aisle are arguing for), campaigning for upcoming elections (left or right seem to be the only definitions), whatever issue will be the next great showdown; as well as all the other major issues as a society that we are lobbying for or against. People are fired up and pouring all their efforts and energies into that “one battle” they believe will change the entire course of things for them.
The intensity is real! At times it feels suffocating. If I don’t at least tune in to the news (and I am not even talking about watching it for an extended time), I am deemed ignorant and uniformed. And yet it’s those moments watching news that often leave me feeling most hopeless, grasping for air and the hem of His garment.
Have people swung so far away from the Lord? Or is there something in this instability that we need to pay attention to?
The Church needs to wake up and take notice. People are in desperate need; they are HUNGRY! They are crying out for something that matters. They want to pour their lives into a cause that’s worth risking for. And yet, we are still offering a soft, palatable Christianity. Quite honestly, it seems to be crumbs rather than the rich banquet we have access to.
What would happen if we offered the pure, unadulterated Truth? What would happen if we were honest about sin and separation from the Lord? What would happen if we were truly unashamed of the Gospel? Walking with the Lord demands being “sold-out”; it demands your life, it demands your all.
Lukewarmness, casualness in our faith, Sunday-only Christians – these things are a lie and they are not enough.
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. (Revelation 3:15-17 NIV)
“Knowing the correct password—saying ‘Master, Master,’ for instance—isn’t going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience—doing what my Father wills. I can see it now—at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, ‘Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.’ And do you know what I am going to say? ‘You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important. You don’t impress me one bit. You’re out of here.’ (Matthew 7:21-23 MSG)
The first scandal in the Church is that we have lost sight of our first love. We have allowed other things to divert our gaze. There are many sold-out Christians fighting valiantly to make sure everyone has a voice at the table. But there are others who have simply jumped on the bandwagon. They are “fighting” to be part of the crowd, rather than following the Lord’s leading with His full breath behind their every effort.
There are many matters I feel strongly about, matters that stir up fire in my spirit and make me want to go raging out on to the battlefield. In fact, earlier this year, I found myself in one of those spots. It only took about two weeks in before I realized I was spending all my free time researching “this thing” and all my energies into fighting for the “right” voice. I am grateful for a loving Lord to gently open my eyes to see that I had diverted my passion to something other than Him.
I am now reminded of that time and how quickly I can lose focus and sight of Him. I must keep HIM at the helm – and where He leads, I will go! And if HE is steering the ship, I cannot go wrong. I will fight with all the “right” tools, not the “almost right” set of equipment.
What if our churches were willing to consider the cost? Not a building full of people but of a people on fire? What if we were willing to “lose” half our congregations for the sake of raising up a generation who will not be shaken, a people on fire, built solidly on the rock rather than on shifting sand?
I truly believe our society is so desperate and hungry to believe in and fight for issues of the heart. We are missing our opportunity – we have the answer – the only One that matters – and it will infiltrate EVERYTHING else we do!
In the midst of a culture floundering in the throes of instability, God can light the fire and renew the passion of the early days with our first love–those days where we were sure mountains were molehills to Him and that He could break the chains with His bare hands. He has never changed.
The same God who parted the Red Sea and delivered a group of vagabonds into a land flowing with milk and honey, the same God who protected three men in a fiery furnace and kept the lions’ mouths closed… the same God who sent His only Son to die as a ransom for our own lives. The God of the RESURRECTION calls us His own. THAT is a cause worth selling out for.
It’s time for us to RISE UP!
“Build Your kingdom here
Let the darkness fear
Show Your mighty hand
Heal our streets and land
Set Your church on fire
Win this nation back
Change the atmosphere
Build Your kingdom here
We pray.” Lyrics from “Build Your Kingdom Here”, Rend Collective
(Suni Piper is a prophetic intercessor who blogs at A Surrendered Life. )
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