There is a threefold need alive in churches today. The lack of these things is causing distress and destroying gospel effectiveness. Like cancer in a body, immediate action must be taken if congregations hope to stay alive. The need is this: men and women must seek humility, be serious about holiness, and possess an unwavering obedience to God’s word.
We’re living in an age of accelerated godlessness. Selfishness is the driving motif and its pride is producing disastrous results. The apostle Paul warned about such times when he said, “In the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power” (2 Timothy 3:1-5). He finishes his prophetic word by telling readers to “avoid such people.”
Regretfully, the church is not known for humble leaders who are holy and obey God’s word. It doesn’t avoid such people as Paul commanded. Like a virus, the church has been exposed to godlessness. The pagan world sees it, which adds fuel to the fire of their assertion that “Christianity offers nothing to life and happiness.”
Many in the church lack self-control and are lovers of self. Their pursuit of pleasure has not only robbed them of gospel witness, it has removed them entirely from experiencing intimacy with God. A lack of zeal for God’s glory has them reflecting the culture more than the Creator. Things are not going well, to say the least.
What if the church of Christ lived differently? What if, instead of seeking approval from the world and attempting to relate to it, it abandoned the ship entirely by obeying every word of Scripture and seeking holiness and humility? I believe the power of God would be unleashed on this generation. I believe the church would see an outpouring of God’s Spirit resulting in the salvation of millions.
What are we waiting for?
There is a passage in Peter’s first epistle that strikes me as a call to discipleship. The apostle discusses how the church in his day was maligned for choosing to live holy lives. I like how the New King James Version words it.
“In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you.”– 1 Peter 4:4 (NKJV)
How I wish it was true of the church today! How I wish we could be strange people once again. We seem too timid to take the heat from pagans. We want to be liked by everyone and not seem strange or radical.
The call of the world and the call of the church are radically opposed. The people of the world try to be different for the sake of being different. Christ’s bride is called to be different for the sake of God’s glory and the salvation of people everywhere. It’s actually not about us at all. We are merely servants in God’s redemptive story.
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”– Titus 2:11-14 (ESV)
As for humility, we must humble ourselves in the presence of the Lord (James 4:10). We must humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God (1 Peter 5:6). We cannot continue to lead ministries and churches with arrogance. We are not awesome. He is awesome. We are not the point. He is the point.
As for holiness, without it no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14). We must be holy as he is holy (1 Peter 1:16). We must abandon the godlessness we masquerade as an attempt to reach lost people. We must be serious about holiness — where we spend our time and how we spend our money.
As for Scripture, the word of God is our final authority. End of story. If God’s word says it, we must obey it. Scripture cannot be a place for inspirational sayings to help us on our journey to self-fulfillment.
Oh church, let’s be strange people again. Yes, let’s be strange people.