Friday, October 03, 2008

We are the Problem

I want to share with you another quote from Henry Blackaby taken from his book Holiness. This is what he writes:
“The salvation of the nation has little to do with Washington or Hollywood—it has to do with the people of God! If God’s people do not sense that the problem is with them, then America does not stand a chance of revival or survival.” (p. 21)

Those are strong words, but I think they are absolutely correct. The problems of the United States—from a decline in morality to our current economic mess—are the result of the Church not being Church. Some of us have formed an unholy alliance with a political party which forces us to spend time defending them and their policies. Others of us have refused to be good stewards of the miracle of transformation God is working in our lives, and we have been caught up in the things of this world. Until we change, both as individuals and as church families, our great nation will continue to decline.

Reading Revelation 1-3 shows us that the Church can often look good on the outside, and appear to be doing the right things, but be very far from where Christ desires her to be. Evaluate your church family by what Christ says to the seven churches of Asia. How do your church family measure up? It is not enough to believe the right things and to have the tradition of religion, but we must also influence the world around us. The reality is that many of our church families ceased being lights in this world a very long time ago.

This brings me to the point I really want to make and that point is this: change starts with the person in the mirror. If we are not going to change personally, then our churches and our nation have no hope. We have to make the hard choices on an individual level before we can really have influence on a larger scale.

Remember these changes are not easy. They are extremely difficult. Take for example the rich young ruler who came to Jesus with a simple question: How can I have eternal life? Remember Jesus’ answer? It was to sell all his possessions, give the money to the poor, and follow after Jesus. That was a difficult thing Jesus asked the young man to do, and because it was difficult the young man went away sad. What has Jesus asked you to give up? How has your faith in Jesus been difficult?

How about this teaching of Jesus:
29 So if your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away from you. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body go into hell.” (Matthew 5:29-30; ISV)

Paul echoes this teaching in Colossians when he wrote: 5 So put to death your worldly impulses: sexual sin, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry) (Colossians 3:5; ISV). Or a more literal translation could be to cut off your earthly members. The whole idea here is that we need to get rid of, sever our ties with, those things that keep us attached to this world and to sin. Yet for all our talk about filth on television we still have it front and center in our homes. Even though pornography has become the secret sin of the church, we don’t unplug from the world wide web or use a filter system that would protect us. We send our children off to public schools to be indoctrinated without giving it a second thought. We cling to relationships even though those relationships lead us into sin, even “small” sins such as gossip. Until we change, there can be no hope of survival in this country, let alone revival.

I don’t want to end on a negative note. There is every reason to be optimistic because we serve God Almighty. Here is the first step that we need to take in order to change: pray. Not wimpy prayers about bless me and mine, but prayers of thanksgiving and for change. Prayers like what the apostle Paul prayed in Colossians:
9 For this reason, since the day we heard about this, we have not stopped praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the full knowledge of God's will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so that you might live in a manner worthy of the Lord and be fully pleasing to him as you bear fruit in every good work and grow in the full knowledge of God. 11 You are being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might, so that you might patiently endure everything with joy 12 and might thank the Father, who has enabled us to share in the saints’ inheritance in the light. (Colossians 1:9-12; ISV)

Pray for your pastor that he might have the spiritual wisdom he needs to teach, preach, and counsel. Pray for your children that they might be filled with the knowledge of God’s will. Pray for people who are a part of your church family that they might walk worthy of the Lord. Pray for church leaders, the men and women who are on the radio and who write books, that they will communicate God’s truth. Revival begins through prayer, and we need to pray, not that revival happens, but that we will walk in a manner that is fitting of our Lord Jesus Christ. Only when the Church begins being the Church will real and lasting revival break out across the land.

  • Point to Ponder: Change begins with the person in the mirror.
  • Passage to Remember: Colossians 1:9-12
  • Prayer to Pray: Gracious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, I ask that You will fill me with hope so that I will not become discouraged with the condition of my nation and my church. Point out to me the areas in my life that I need to change, those ties that I continue to allow to exist which bind me to this world and to sin. Teach me to pray: for the nation, for the Church, and for others so that real change might begin to take place.

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