Are We Missing Something?

Are we missing something? This is something I find myself wondering this every one in a while when I get myself deep into spiritual thought.

When it comes to Christianity, specifically American Christianity, are we missing something?

I have read multiple accounts over the years about major spiritual successes and revivals and miracles from all over the world. The weird thing is that you find these accounts coming from third world countries and places outside of America.

From the Middle East to Inda, from China to South Korea, the Church is exploding in spiritual power.

And so, one has to wonder: are we missing something? Is there something we are not doing here in the American Church that they are doing in other parts of the world?

Or are we doing something that they aren’t doing that is actually preventing us from accessing the Divine power of God?

I have been dealing with this question for some time and I am working on something that in my opinion will change the face of Christianity and restore the power of the Church.

I want to find that missing link. I want to help bring power back into the Church.

I don’t know what that is going to look like. But I want to be a part of it.

How we failed God…

We nearly lost the fight. It seemed like everywhere we turned, the enemy was upon us. Every path, mountain range, valley, rock and crevice echoed their cry. We were surrounded.

It wasn’t sheer force that helped us win. It wasn’t luck either. You’re going to think I’m crazy, but it was a visible yet invisible army.

I know. Crazy.

But it’s true.

We had been cornered by the enemy, and we were at a complete loss with the army in front of us and sheer rock to our backs, going ninety degrees up. There was nowhere to go.

Suddenly, one voice cried out amongst our severely depleted ranks, “Elohim, if you are there, and if you have truly blessed us, then help us!” From that cry came several other cries from the soldiers as the enemy army quickly advanced, each one a variation of that first desperate cry. I’m surprised even now to recall my own voice among the ones crying to our God. But it worked. Or rather, he answered.

Out of nowhere, there came a rush of wind and we were all nearly knocked off our feet. Once we had regained our stances, we looked around to find a massive force surrounding us, but it wasn’t our enemy. It was an army greater than anything we had ever seen. Yet we couldn’t see it.

The army was seemingly translucent, see-through, barely corporeal. Their weapons and armor gleamed in the afternoon sun and reflected the light on the mountain face behind us and on each one of us. Not only was the army surrounding us, but each of us was accompanied by a formidable warrior, stone-faced, ready for battle.

At once, we raised our battle cry. Emboldened by the vision of this angelic army, we rushed toward the oncoming enemy, fighting our way through their ranks. As we fought, we could see our companions fighting alongside us and all around, taking down ten or twenty of the enemy soldiers for every one that each of us killed. Before long, the enemy was defeated, with each of us left standing, unscathed, our angelic companions gone.

All was silent on the battle field. There was no victory cry raised. No shouts or praises of thankfulness to God for his help. Just silence.

I was the first to fall to my knees. As I hit the ground, tears streamed down my eyes. I could barely see anything through the flood of tears, as I was filled with such emotion.

In the moment, I couldn’t tell you what that emotion was. I had thought it was joy and relief flooding over me after the rush of adrenaline died away. But now I know that it was guilt. I was genuinely remorseful for what happened, for what we did to our enemy. I still am.

You see, it’s not about whether or not God had blessed us. It’s not about whether or not he has truly chosen us to lead the world back to him. It’s how we represent him with the blessing and guidance he has given us.

Yes, he assisted us, and assists us even today. But we paid the ultimate price for what we did.

We’ve been given a great gift from God, a gift that we have been commanded to share with the world to bring it back to him. But we’ve misused that gift. We’ve abused it. And we have cut down and ostracized so many people as a result and our reputation, and most importantly, his reputation, has been marred and damaged.

We are his representatives, his ambassadors. And we failed.

Now we must return to him, seek his forgiveness and blessing yet again, and ask for the strength to properly use the gift he has given us.

God forgive us.

This God-less World

I am constantly hearing people within the churches lament that there are so many people refusing to listen to the gospel and turning to follow such philosophers as Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins.

We cry over the billions of people who turn away at the mere discussion of religion, claiming that religion is a crutch that only the weak need.

We pour out our hearts in prayer for the ones who scoff at the name of Jesus and berate us for our belief.

And so we should.

Church, we are surrounded by a God-less world. A world where God is not wanted and, in the eyes of many, He is not wanted. And it is right for us to be heartbroken for those who turn from the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

But I can’t help but wonder why it is that way.

I will tell you the truth, Church. And it’s going to hurt.

It’s our fault.

It is.

We have failed to accurately and lovingly reflect God’s glory to those around us.

We have judged the weak and wounded.

We have ostracized the hurting and wandering.

We have become Pharisees.

We have failed. It is of us as well that it is written “The Gentiles blaspheme the name of God because of you.” (Romans 2:24)

To those who are reading this who have been failed by the Church, I’m sorry. While the burden does not lie entirely on my shoulders, I can feel the pain of you, because I too have been failed by the Church, many times and by those with authority and respect within their churches and ministries.

I know what it’s like to be pushed away because of sins and crimes. I know what it’s like to go to a pastor or any Christian for help and encouragement and to find nothing but scorn and contempt.

We failed you.

Church, it’s time we actually got into the Word of God. And not just read it. Do it.

James encourages us to be doers of the word and not hearers only (James 1:22).

I want to challenge you, Church: start reading the New Testament, specifically the gospels. And once you reach a part where Jesus tells His disciples to do something, stop reading and do it. Once you’ve done it, continue reading and repeat the process. It’s going to take you a long time to get through any gospel, but you’d be amazed at how much it will impact your life and the lives around you.

Be blessed, Church.

“Only those who believe obey and only those who obey believe.”

The Church: Separate but Equal?

Recently, I came across this Facebook post: “I’m not perfect. my relationship with God is just that. Mine. And I will find MY strength on MY own with MY realtionship with Heavenly Father.”

This is, sadly, the face of the young American church today: “I will figure out my way to God, my own way, by myself. I don’t need your help or your advice or your suggestions. I don’t care how you did it. Let me figure it out on my own.”

We live in a world where independence is the norm. We want to do everything ourselves. And if we can’t figure it out, we go to the internet for information or instructions.

This isn’t how it is supposed to be at all, especially in the Church.

Let’s take a look at the early Church, the group of believers who were gathered together after the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles.

According to the book of Acts, “..the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common.” (4:32; emphasis mine).

Note that they were all together, worshiping together, sharing everything. They submitted to the teachings of the Apostles and even sold land and possessions to help out with the needs of others. These men and women were all together, learning from each other, teaching each other, caring for one another.

This is just one image of the early Church. The book of Acts is filled with examples of people joining together to learn and to teach and to care for other members of the Church. None of them thought it was up to them, by themselves, to learn about God and the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Church was meant to be a community. If we weren’t meant to learn from others, then why does the Bible insist that we join together?

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25; emphasis mine)

It is essential to meet together as a body of believers and to learn from each other, not to go it alone. Churches were formed to continue the building up of good works and love, and you can’t do that if you are on your own. If you are neglecting meeting with Christians, if you are refusing to seek or to listen to the words of those who have walked this path before, then you will surely be lost.

When Jesus sent out the apostles, He sent them two by two. When Paul when on his missionary journeys, he took people with him. There are extremely rare instances where you find any believer by themselves, trying to figure the Christian life out on their own. It’s just not possible.

So, to my friends who choose to walk the line alone, I pity you. I pray that you will return to the fellowship of believers and that you choose to live in community with those who are powerful, mature and sincere Christians, and that you do not walk alone. For the walk with Christ is meant to be walked in community, not by yourself.

We are the Body of Christ, not individual members walking alone, without a home, without a host, without a family.

Rejoin the Body of Christ…live in community…be co-dependent…depend on someone to lead and teach and help you…there are others who need the same from you.