Let me start with the really great news...we had a man choose to become a Christ follower in yesterday's worship. Praise God for that! But it's not enough. I am not content for just one or one hundred to know the power of Christ's resurrection. I would desire, just as God does, that every man, woman and child be given that opportunity. Let's keep praying and building for that purpose...
Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. Psalm 1:1 NIV
I told you the other day I would come back to Psalm 1. I want to talk specifically about this first verse. I've been thinking about it a lot these last few days. It's not the first time I've read it nor is it the first time I've thought about it. I guess, this time, God used it to strike a different chord with me.
I'm worried about the Church (that's the universal church, not just Ridgeview), especially the Church in America. It's anemic. Yeah, there are bright spots here and there. There are mega churches that are growing like crazy and there are rural churches that are being blessed by God in their ministry. But, by and large, the church is a non-factor beyond the doors of its buildings. Honestly, the homosexual movement, PETA, Mothers Against Drunk Drivers and the United Auto Workers have more powerful voices for change in our present culture. Why is that?
Look at another passage for explanation. Acts 2:44 and following tell us that the early church got together on a daily basis, they praised God, they were filled with joy, they were grateful for what they had and they considered none of it to be their own. They had it "going on" to the point where everyone around them was standing in awe. When is the last time the world stood in awe of the church ...for a good reason? In Acts 4:34, it says there was not ONE needy person among them because they took care of each other. How great would it be to be part of a Church where no one who entered our doors with a need left in that same condition? Why isn't the Church blowing anyone away? Why is it that most of our churches cannot be described in this way--"God added daily to their number?"
Well, there's a lot of reasons. Some are more significant than others. But today, I go back to Psalm 1. We aren't blessed. That's plain and simple. We aren't blessed. Now, if God promises blessings, you know it's going to be on His Church, right? After all, we are His bride, His pride and joy!
Here's where I'm headed. The Church isn't blessed because we are walking in the counsel of the wicked, standing with sinners and sitting with mockers. I'm not talking about the Church. I'm talking about it's members, the individuals with which the church is built. You and I look like the world, talk like the world, and go to the world for advice. We are entertained by the world, changed by the world, transformed by the world and do a better imitation of culture than we do of Christ. No wonder we don't see the daily miracles and signs that the early church saw (or that churches in other places like Africa and Asia are seeing these days).
I heard a friend recently sharing about a mission trip that her husband went on to Rwanda. There, after a few days of praying and ministry, they had seen over 4,000 people receive Christ. There are churches in my area that have been around 40 years and haven't seen that kind of outpouring of God's favor.
So, here's where it gets personal. What is your church doing? How would you characterize it? Is it more like an Acts 2 community or a 21st century social club? Are lives being changed or is your church just making people more comfortable with how they live their lives?
NOW, for the hard one...what role are you playing? Are you more worried more about place than power? Did you pick your church based on what you would get out of it rather than what God would get out of you? Is your church struggling to do ministry because you spend more money on entertaining your family than you do on supporting the kingdom with your gifts? Are you walking, standing and sitting with friends and neighbors who inhibit your growth or quench His Spirit in you? Look at yourself (honestly) in the mirror of God's word. When it comes to your church (His Church) are you part of the problem or part of the solution? The Body is lacking power and direction. It's leaders are failing miserably. It's followers are easily distracted. And surprisingly enough, Oprah has no answer for this one. The blessings of God will only come when "followers" become completely devoted to God's plan for His Church in this world--not ours.