“And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people…” Isaiah 11:10-11
In different periods of history the Church, by divine revelation, has placed emphasis on different truths. At one time it will be on Global Missions or Worship and at another it will be on healing or ecumenicalism. It has been that way since its inception on the day of Pentecost and it is no different in our own time. As we enter into a new season in Church history, the Holy Spirit is calling the church to major on its own renewal. After all, before we can move forward we must be honest about where we are.
Abraham Lincoln said, “If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could better judge what to do and how to do it.” This is a vital truth that we must take to heart as we step into a new mission field. Optimism has its place but if you desire to move forward, realism is the only feasible starting point. In an effort to “be real” I want to state this truth as emphatically as I can because until we embrace this reality we will never be able to advance.
Committed Christians & Believing Believers are a minority.
The contemporary weakness of the Church stems in part from a miscalculation of its own strength and acceptance. When you read the New Testament it doesn’t take long to realize that part of the power of the early Church arose from the clear recognition that it was by no means conventional or popular. The call to take the Gospel around the world was prefaced by the clear recognition that opposition was to be expected. Paul confessed confidently “a wide door for effective work is opened unto me but there are many adversaries” (1 Cor 16:9). At that time, Christians were surrounded by uncompromising pagans and religious zealots who were contemptuous at best BUT since opposition was expected, the early Christians prepared themselves for it spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and even physically.
Today we’re dazzled by new and exciting Life Groups that promise to teach us how to witness our faith without offense. We’ve mastered the art of camouflage and we’re basking in the warmth of cultural acceptance. In many ways, contemporary Christians are less fortunate than our first century counterparts because of this perceived acceptance. It is a delusion.
There is no doubt that our nation has been baptized in “Christianese” with an abundance of Christian music, TV, movies, T-shirts, necklaces and bumper stickers but if we believe that this means we still hold a lion’s share of cultural influence, we’re mistaken. Looks can be deceiving especially in something as important as this. Just look at Europe where the landscape is littered with beautiful churches and cathedrals but has little to no Christian influence today. The external evidences of a religion may go on for a long time after the power of that religion to influence the masses has disappeared. People will still get married and buried via the Church long after prayer and other real christian disciplines have passed away.
The fact is that Believing Believers are a minority that are just as hard to find in Church on Sunday as they are in a bar on Saturday. This is a fact well hidden if you merely judge by name only. Church attendance is skyrocketing but what people are embracing by and large is not true committed Christianity, but vague religiosity. The Apostle’s words to the Athenians are just as suitable today, “I perceive that you are far to religious” (Acts 17:22). Don’t get me wrong, being a minority is not a problem and it does not hinder our ability to influence our nation. However, refusing to acknowledge our minority status provides misguided expectations as unsuspecting believers attempt to fulfill the call of God on their lives. We cannot be rightly prepared for what’s coming if we do not understand the intensity of the opposition to REAL Christianity.
This new watered down version of Christianity preaches the doctrine personal spirituality and worn out hedonism that rejects accountability and discipline. They scoff at holiness, claiming freedom from such antiquated ideas. The person whose primary focus is their own pleasure and liberty will logically become anti-church because he is doomed to see church and its membership, with all of its responsibilities, as something that limits his own personal freedom. Selfishness always turns spirituality into a very private matter.
Some will inevitably say, “It’s nobody else’s business. It’s just between me and God.” No, your Christianity is between you and your Church, which is the Body of Christ. We cannot do anything in a vacuum. Everything we do directly affects the Body we’re a part of.
“If you continue in my word then are you my disciples indeed and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free (Jn 8:31-32).
According to Jesus, Freedom is not acquired automatically. Participation and commitment to the life of a disciplined one is the price of that freedom. The current easy-believism is a far cry from what the cross provided and this buffet style of religion is picking up steam and will continue to grow in acceptance, feeding the lie that real Christianity is growing when in reality it is just as rejected now as it was two thousand years ago. The early church prospered because it was willing to be counted worthy of persecution. As we enter a new year we must ask ourselves, “Are we willing to embrace the scandal of real Christianity?”
We can no longer maintain an uncostly membership in our churches and expect to please God. We will be far more effective if we know the sacrifice that is expected and that the Gospel will never be acceptable by the majority in this life.
What we need today is a true conversion. Not of the individual but of the church itself! Christians have been scattered, but unlike the ones who God redeemed from Egypt, the confrontation of one Pharaoh will not be enough. We are like those in Isaiah chapter eleven who have been scattered into various forms of captivity. I believe that God’s desire is to “Recover the Remnant.”
“The lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people…” Isaiah 11:11
It’s time to preach the Gospel to the Church so that God’s remnant can be restored and then we can carry this glorious Gospel to the world. We must humble ourselves or be humiliated. No more stalling! it’s time to submit everything to His Lordship. Are you ready to submit to a plan for your life that is so supernatural it will require the miraculous just to stand against the opposition you’ll face? Like the disciples in The Book of Acts chapter four, are you ready to preach a message so radical that it will have you pleading for Heavenly boldness?
Leonard Ravenhill said, “The world doesn’t need a better definition of the Gospel. What the world needs is a better demonstration of it.”