If I had to sum up all the posts I ever wrote denouncing the state of the Church today. If I had to sum up what I have been ranting on about in this blog for the last few months with regards to church leadership, lukewarmness, and church leaders seeking after their own will and not that of God, the sermon on the link below by Francis Chan captures it all. God is not just calling him and his wife because they have reached the status of mature Christians who have planted a church/churches and led many to Christ. The call Francis Chan and his wife are hearing right now to leave all they know, to go and move into a major American city and minister directly to the people there, and to then spend a considerable amount of time in a third world country on mission, is the life we are all called to live as Christians. “Those who want to save their life will lose it and those who give up their life for my sake and the gospel’s, will find it” Jesus said. It does not get clearer than that.
Are we prepared like the apostle Paul not only to share in the power of Jesus’ resurrection but also in the fellowship of his sufferings? There cannot be one without the other, no matter how much we try to sugar-coat the gospel, one has to undergo the purifying fire of self-denial and total abandonment to the will of God in our life, to His purpose of using us as vessels to bring His grace, love and mercy to those who don’t even know such wonderful gifts are there for the taking.
The Church at large, the Body of Christ, needs to wake up, really wake up to the fact that until each and everyone of us who claims to follow Jesus, is truly willing to give up everything we know and have in order to serve the poor, the orphans, those who do not yet know Jesus, until that moment, we are not truly representing the love of Jesus in this world. Until we put down our own desires and plans, until we seek only His will above all else, the church will continue to be ineffective in conveying Jesus’ redemptive power to this chaotic and hurting world. Who in their right mind would follow someone or be interested in their faith if when they take a closer look at their life, there is no evidence whatsoever of self-denial, of sacrifice, of laying down the comfort of what we know, what keeps us safe and unchallenged. It is no good to just do a week here or a week there on a missional trip to make ourselves feel good inside that we have made a sacrifice for the poor. Jesus talks about utter and completely radical surrender of all we have, all we love for the sake of others. He talks of a decision which once made does not allow the possibility of going back on it. It is not a season, it is not an experience, it is simply the realisation that one day, maybe sooner than we think, we will face God, and we will have to give account of our hypocrisy as we claimed to be followers of Jesus Christ but never gave up anything other than little of our time and possessions, always knowing we could come back to the comfort and safety of our “normal” life. No program, no effort of man, no selfish prayer will ever accomplish in this world what only radically transformed living can do.
How do I move this ministry? How do I grow this church? Is your life as a Christian currently being totally absorbed by these questions to such an extent that though you are indeed witnessing the power of Jesus’ resurrection, you are not personally fellowshipping in his sufferings at the same time? Do you deep inside have the feeling that despite all your hard work for the gospel, something still does not fit with the zeal, fire and passion of those who gave their life for the gospel in biblical times? What the church is doing today in its majority, at least in the Western World CANNOT BE IT. It just does not fit. One only has to open up the New Testament to see little of what takes place today in Christian circles has anything to do with the cross of Christ and his message to the world.
Authentic intimacy with Jesus can and will only come as we fellowship in His suffering. As Francis says, we can create our little positions in ministry, pastoring, Christian leadership and set ourselves up, and let the rest of the world think that we are serving the Lord, but if we are totally honest, are we really serving Him or are we serving ourselves?
Do you pretend to have more peace with the Lord than you really have? Francis is right to say that Christians are notorious for saying “We will go wherever the Lord leads us to go”, but do we really, all the time, to EVERYWHERE He leads us, or only those places where we think He should be leading us to?
I would be the first one to admit that I fall way short of my calling as a follower of Jesus Christ. I know that what I do IS NOT IT. I know that though I seek to give up my life for the sake of others, there are pockets of that life which I still strive to keep to and for myself. I know that I need to have much repentance before God for failing to live up to the glorious calling of being a TRUE follower of Jesus Christ.
Father, I pray that your Holy Spirit will refine my heart, your fire will purify my motives and attitudes, the understanding of your love and grace will deepen to such a depth that I will have no choice but to be truly willing to lose my life so that I can gain it. It is my prayer that your message through Francis Chan will reach all nations and convict lukewarmness, apathy and indifference in The Church. Bless this man and his family as they take a leap of faith, as they surrender to your will. May you grant them the desire of their heart, that one day when they see you face to face, they will indeed hear you say: “Well done, my good and faithful servant”. God bless you
Link to Francis’s sermon: http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/national-new-church-conference/id194168324
Once you click on the link above, scroll down to the right sermon, and then click where it says iTunes. That should take you to the page where you can listen to that sermon for free. Your Christianity will never be the same again after hearing that word from God. It is my prayer that for all those who hear that word today, this will be so. AMEN