Lately I have been wondering about my walk with Jesus. Not in a way that I wonder if I am saved, or wonder if He is with me. But I find myself searching my heart in prayer and study of what it is I am missing. Have you ever wondered if you were missing something, like you were missing the bigger picture, like there was something not quite right in your walk, but you just can’t put your finger on it? That is where I find myself lately. Not quite sure what is missing, but pretty sure there is something the Lord wants to change and fix in me.
One of the things I have been wondering about is what I find in the churches and other Christians today. When you read the book of Acts you see people who are changed, who are filled with the Holy Spirit and who make an impact upon the lives of all those around them. The church of Thessalonica was so on fire for Jesus that their works of faith were discussed all over the surrounding areas. (1 Thessalonians 1:7-10) But what about our faith today, what about my faith? Is it spoken of? Have I made an impact upon the lives of others? Have I lived a life so far that points others to Jesus?
The more I walk this road of faith in Christ, the more and more I see the need for Him and Him alone. The more I stand and worship Him, the more I realize how desperate a woman I am. The more I read and study His word, the more I realize I cannot live without Him. Yet there always seems to be something or someone getting in my way. That someone is usually me. I get myself into more trouble than is necessary. I do not want to get on a “woe is me” kick today, because the moment I begin to lament about how worthless I am, I fall out of faith and into self-pity. But there has to be more to what we are seeing and experiencing in our churches today.
Take some time to go through the book of Acts. The book of Acts was written as a guideline for churches today. It is the measuring stick for the body of Christ, to see if we are on the right track. Where are the power and the might of the Holy Spirit in our churches? Are people being healed, are miracles taking place? If so, then why are we not proclaiming it at the top of our lungs, why is God not magnified and why are so many churches dying for lack of attendance?
These are just some of the questions that have been running through my mind lately. There really is no reason for me to write this blog today, except to express the thoughts of my heart to you and to see if you also are wondering the same things. We hear about churches being led by the Holy Spirit, but when we go there, we do not see Him or hear Him. We look but the only leading that we see is from the Pastor and his assistants. We wait for the word to be preached and we get a message that goes along with what the Bible says, but there is no fire, no challenge, and no passion for Jesus to follow.
Paul tells the Thessalonians that they became followers of Jesus Christ and then became “examples to all in Macedonia, and Achaia, who believe.” (1 Thess. 1:7) Their faith impacted the cities around them. He goes on to say that from them “the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place.” (1 Thess. 1:8) How many of us are making a difference like this in our communities? How many of our churches are being spoken of in surrounding cities or even in our community?
When the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples gathered together there was power unleashed upon them and the whole city. I have heard many pastors and preachers say that this was a onetime occurrence and things such as that do not happen in our day. But have we excused the power of the Holy Spirit away? Have we chosen to not allow Him to fill us with great power because we don’t want to offend anyone, or we don’t want to “rock the boat” at the next church potluck? When you read the book of Acts, you see people, just like you and me, going about their daily lives then suddenly, bam! They are changed by the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the next thing you know they are impacting their homes, their jobs, and their whole community.
I think, and this is my opinion, that we have stifled the Holy Spirit of God. We have set limits on His power and we have forgotten that we are to be baptized with fire, with the passion and might of His Spirit. Jesus offended people by His words, and by His works. We are afraid that we might offend the new visitor sitting in the back row, so we trim back on the preaching and make it more “user friendly”. We get milk and cookies from the Word of God, and the meat and the conviction that comes from the preaching of the word is tossed to the side so as not to hurt anyone’s feelings.
We are dying spiritually as a church because we have put a cork in the Holy Spirit. We do not allow people to teach the word of the Lord because they have not been through certain classes, or they have not gone to Seminary. Where in the bible does it say you have to go to school to become a pastor? It was ordinary men and woman who God filled with His Holy Spirit to lead the church into the entire world. Why have we made it so legalistic and so binding?
Jesus said that He was sending the Holy Spirit to us so that He could guide us and teach us, and bring to our remembrance all He has spoken. (John 14:26) The Holy Spirit is not an “it”, He is a person, the third person of the Trinity and He wants to be free to use you and me however He chooses. We are so scared to take a leap of faith and follow the Holy Spirit, that we have stifled Him, we have locked Him away in a box until He fits into what we want to do within our churches.
You believe the Lord is telling you to start a ministry, or He is telling you to go on a mission’s trip, so you go to your pastor or friend in the church and they say, “Well, you need to pray about it. You got to make sure you are really hearing from the Lord.” Or, as I have actually had said to me by a leader in the church, “I am not sure God really wants that for our church, it really doesn’t fit into what we want to do.” (And it happened to be a ministry to help the homeless people of our community) Some things God has already said “Go and Do” in His word. Go and preach the gospel, go and help the fatherless, the widows and the poor. We don’t need prayer and committees to determine if God wants us to do that, because He already said, “Go!”
God wants our churches, His children to make an impact in the world for Jesus Christ. He wants us to step out of our rules and regulations and walk in the power of the Holy Spirit. But we have become so caught up in our way of doing things that we have put the Holy Spirit on the shelf and the result is the withering of the body of Christ.
I think what I am trying to say today, as I babble on, is that we are missing the bigger picture. We are to be the examples of Christ to the community our church is nestled in, as well as to the cities and nation we reside in. Our faith should be so loud that it is spoken of by our neighbors, by our city councils, by the people down the interstate. Where is that faith? Where is the power? Where is the impact? Where is Jesus?