I recently listened to sermon preached by a great brother in Christ, Mentor, and friend. His name is Bob Beltz at Valley Mills Christian Church in Indianapolis, IN. His sermon was powerful and thought provoking at least for me.
He preached from Lamentations and really brought some perspective to the table about where exactly to look when evaluating what we need as a nation, a society, and as the body of Christ.
“Judah has gone into exile under affliction and under harsh servitude; she dwells amoung the nations, but she has found no rest; all her pursuers have overtaken her in the midst of distress.” -Lamentations 1:3
For the past six to eight years I have often thought of America as needing another great revival! What I mean is for those Americans who will readily and maybe even honestly claim to believe in God or call themselves Christians yet seldom or never attend church to return to putting God first in all things.
Often times these Americans will go most of their lives without ever opening God’s Word in the privacy of their own home. Somehow these Americans have fallen into the trap of believing that simply not denying God’s existence is enough to secure a spot in a place we all know as heaven. Not accepting the fact that it does not work that way.
I had often thought that if we would just pray that God would move in a way that brought about a great revival in the hearts of The Church in America then all of the wickedness and wrongdoing that seemed so overwhelming would be defeated.
The problem with that thought was that it was born and motivated by my own spiritual youth and naivety. You see, what I did not have a full grasp on was that revivals are what happen to the believers within the church, those who are actively working within the body of Christ and seeking the Lord. It is The Church that is to be the focus of a revival!
Maybe it is because I was raised in the 70’s and 80’s. Even then Americans were being taught that this nation was a Christian nation founded on Christian principles. Leading me to just assume that all Americans believed in God. At least that was the case in the Midwest where I spent a lot of my childhood.
Maybe I simply assumed that an American revival meant that many if not most would return to the Christian foundation that our forefathers stood on.
The reality of it all is simply that The Church, the body of Christ, are the people who need to be awakened. After all, according to the great commission, it is the responsibility of The Church to go into the world and make disciples!
“And He said to them, “Go into all the world and peach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.”” – Mark 16:15-16
To simply pray that God would change the hearts of those who have not accepted His gospel and do nothing else in regard to our neighbor’s salvation is a complete act of deflecting our God given responsibility back on God Himself!
What I have come to realize over the past five or six years is that it is The Church in America that is sick. After all, it is fool hearted to expect people who have never accepted God, His Word, and the Christian life to live according to the Christian way of life! It is The Church, the body of Christ, that has become complacent.
The believers have slowly given in to the pressures of the world and compromised bit by bit. All the while convincing themselves that we are good enough. We sometimes still go to church and sometimes give our tithes. Verbally confirming that we believe in God and even Jesus sometimes. All the while allowing the foundations of the Christian family to be destroyed by the world around us without any effort to actively standing up and call sin what it is. I do not mean in the public houses, I mean within the walls of our families, our own houses and churches. While at the same time, our behavior in society does not reflect what we say we believe.
Somehow the believers, The Church, arrived at a way of life that is complacent and maybe even blending in with the politically correct mindset of the American culture. Most Americans who are Christians will immediately reject the idea of political correctness, however when confronted with an opportunity to stand firm on our Christian principles, we shrink back for fear of offending our family, friends, and neighbors. An example of fearing what the world will percieve about the Christian who is supposed to be about love and kindness.
The reality is that the believers in these “United” States of America have shrunk back. I remember when I first started full time ministry about fifteen or so years ago. There were some of the older believers in the churches that I was part of who would tell stories about protesting and picketing outside liquor stores and XXX bookstores which had been starting up in their neighborhoods. They had great success in shutting them down. People were also getting saved back then!
“Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.”
– James 2:17
I remember at that time I thought to myself, “that doesn’t seem like what God would have us do”. Even though what was being promoted by those businesses was not something that honored God and provided great temptation to sin in the community, I thought that it was a bit aggressive and might have given the wrong impression to the rest of the community about the church. Which is still the mindset of many church leaders today many times.
I look back now and think that I was probably half correct in my thinking. I was correct in thinking that it was a bit aggressive. However, I now see that it was and always is correct to stand up and call sin what it is! Maybe sometimes even when it is or would be perceived as aggressive. I cannot speak to the manner in which those older brethren took action were right or wrong. Only God will judge that.
I will however say that I think that I would rather stand before God and be corrected over the manner in which I stood firm in what is right or wrong than to stand before Him and try to explain why I just stood by and did nothing or said nothing.
I think that only much prayer and fasting will allow us to be in tune with the Holy Spirit as He leads us toward making disciples and bringing in the harvest.
If we would ever be able to surrender to what God is doing, we would be quick to repent, heal, and be made strong. And by we, I mean the believers.
I believe it would be the next great revival in the body of Christ!
We must seek the Lord. We must cry out for spiritual growth and strength to go into a world of wickedness and hurt and simply love people.
We must be about our Father’s business.