I've seen it happen on more than one occasion.
God moves. The Spirit leads. Hearts are tender. We're willing to give, to go, to pray.
Then the emotions fade. The music stops and the three point sermon is forgotten. The bills come. The vacation is around the corner. And it's just not doable right now.
Oh that we would keep our eyes on the Lord! It's so easy after a spiritual high or after a faith commitment to be persuaded by the lures of satan. When we are at our highest spiritually, he's on high alert. He knows that he can quickly dilute our ambitions with the slightest trial. He can't have our souls, but he can sure keep us from bringing other souls with us.
We are so easily persuaded.
I heard a pastor once say, "There is always someone waiting on the other side of your obedience." How many times was that person left waiting because we decided to take the safe route? We decided it would take too much to do what God had asked. It was too risky.
My prayer lately is that God would help we take that leap of faith. That leap where I have absolutely no clue where I'll land, all I know is that God is waiting on the other side to catch me, to show me great and mighty things, and to teach me. He wants to show me that He can. He will. I just have to let Him.
That's where I believe the church is today. It's comfortable. We have our buildings. We have our cushioned pews. We have our landscaping and paved parking lots. The numbers are up. The giving is steady. So we're good.
Where's the faith?
Where's the part of us that says, "Ok, God's provided our needs, so lets see just how much we can give!" Instead we budget for the luxuries. We have the fancy flyers to lure them in so our numbers will grow. We have the programs and we say, "Well we have to do these things in order to appeal to the people. If we don't do these things they won't come."
Jesus never printed fancy fliers. He never put on a show. He never took a poll to see what color sandals He should wear to be accepted. He never begged people to follow.
He just said, "Follow me." And you either followed or you didn't. Your choice. You didn't get to customize your journey or decide where He took you or when. He just said, "Follow me." If you didn't like it, you didn't have to follow.
I don't think that message has changed today. But we've somehow come to the conclusion that we need to appeal to people. Is that not us relying on ourselves rather than God? It's like saying, "God, you're really not enough to draw these people in. We need a little somethin' extra."
Maybe that's why we're stale and stagnant. We've preoccupied ourselves with pleasing people and we've lost sight of God. We've lost sight of His plan and His ways. We're more concerned with the program than with the people. We're keeping up with the Jones'.
Missions is a great example of this. It's estimated that only 5 out of every 100 churches are involved in missions. How disgusting that must be to God. The purpose of the church IS missions. That's the great commandment! That's what Jesus commanded we do! Yet how many churches are satisfied with reaching just their own congregation? How many churches give to missions but aren't engaged in missions? What a shame that the average person in the church pew has no idea the need and the importance of missions. Missions is nothing more than a slide show and a 5 minute spill every so often. May God have mercy on us, how we've failed.
It takes the average missionary three years to get to the field. Three. Years. YEARS! Why? Because so much of their time is spent begging for someone to catch their vision. Pleading their case to reach the nations. They are often put in a position where they basically have to sell their vision in hopes of gaining someone who will partner with them. Someone who will see the need and accept the call.
Shouldn't it be the other way around? Shouldn't the church be searching for missionaries to send? Shouldn't they be so intent on reaching the nations that they don't care if the grass is cut and the lines in the parking lot are repainted and the people are pleased with the carpet color and the bulletins are printed each Sunday? They don't even care if "the budget allows". They just want to be sure that the nations are reached before it's too late. They're willing to step out and take a leap of faith and trust that God will provide the resources. He will meet the need because it's His heart to reach the lost. That is after all why He sent His one and only Son to die for the sins of the world.
Not so we could be comfortable when we sit in the pew on Sunday morning, but so the lost and dying around the world could hear the Good News. So the children dying of Aids in Africa could have hope. So the rejected widows in India could have life again. So the lonely men and women in the cities of Europe could have joy. So the oppressed women and children of the Arab nations could have a redeemer. So the complacent and self-centered American could have something REAL to live for.
So the WORLD could have eternal life.
God have mercy on our comfort-driven, complacent selves. May we catch HIS vision before it's too late.