This is the second part to this post. The first part is available here
Furthermore, people evaluate me by the status quo. Because I reject all of this, striving instead for what the Bible says, to actually, genuinely take God at His word, I must be “a bad Christian”. I try to explain as diplomatically as I can why I cannot join the church of a pastor who does not pray. And yet people suggest that I am not trying hard enough! I don’t want to go near any of these churches because I don’t want to invest my time, my life or my commitment into sustaining these enterprises which bear no true resemblance to the Bible, when I could actually be striving after authentic Bible truth.
God at work in our churches and in our lives is supposed to be like a majestically roaring fire. In most churches, instead of a fire they have tiny sparks – every now and then – and people start leaping around excitedly. So you’re criticising me because I am not joining you to leap around some sparks? Frankly I would rather leave the faith altogether than join you in your dancing around. I am usually wary of saying things like this because I don’t want to discourage new Christians, or people whose faith is not that strong. However if you do happen to be a new Christian, or not very strong in faith, by hanging around in these churches you will probably get disillusioned eventually anyway. By the grace of God I have always been quite grounded in my faith. However I look back with such profound regret at the years I spent in these “Status Quo Churches” as such a waste of time and effort. God is so real. The Bible is so true. It is the lies that are promoted to us as “Bible truth” from these so-called pastors that are worthless; many of these pastors do not actually believe the Bible really, otherwise, presumably, they would do what it says.
A big point about many “Status Quo Christians” is that they don’t seem to have realised that the supposed Christian life as it is currently preached to us, sold to us, marketed to us incessantly – is not the real thing. On the whole, it is not even related to what the Bible teaches. Christian life as it is usually presented to us in our times is simply an apology when we compare it to the teachings of the Bible.
To be utterly direct, if you have been in a church for a number of years, and it has never occurred to you to ask why there is no prayer meeting in your church; if you have never realised that the person standing in front of you week in, week out, lacks true fluency in the word of God, and if you don’t know why we need to insist on a desperate pursuit of Christ from our leaders, then I think that an honest, open-hearted examination of the Bible will bear a few surprises. However, you’ve got to open your eyes to take God at His word. You have got to discard the conditioning, the “brain-washing”, you could say, which tries to tell us that “God does not really mean this”. No, He does mean it! If He did not mean it, then He would not have put it there for us. When He tells us to love one another, fervently and with a pure heart that is exactly what He means. He does not mean “Try to be nice”. Rather He means “Love one another fervently, with a pure heart” 1 Peter 1v22. When He presents Elijah as a positive prayer example for us to emulate, James 5v17 that is exactly what He means. He wants us to pray hard. With desperation, energy, vigour and perseverance, and to dedicate serious time to it. He is not asking us to pray “nice” prayers. The Christian life is not a place to practise “niceness”. This does not mean that we are not to be pleasant and gracious, because we are. However in the level of our commitment, the level of our desperation, our prayer, we are called to be warriors, not to be “nice”. Ephesians 6v10-17
If it needs to be explicitly stated, then let me please state it so clearly. The missing aspect in our churches that would make the difference to help us see a passionate outpouring of God’s power, is our own commitment. Many people seem to teach, or to think, that we as Christians are just there, mostly irrelevant, and God might pour out His Spirit to perform mighty miracles, to transform our communities and wider society, or on the other hand He might not pour out His Spirit. It’s all about God’s mysterious will – will He, or won’t He?! I believe that God is ready and willing to pour out His Spirit at any point in history. He is immensely powerful. He could definitely do the work without us, if He chose to work that way. Yet He has not chosen to work that way. He has chosen to work through us. He has chosen to need our commitment, our fervour, our desperation. As Christians we have to seriously up our game – seriously.
Why the status quo – because it is easier
As I have been writing out this article, something has occurred to me which should perhaps always have been obvious to me, when considering this subject. The status quo is like a glass ceiling, in that it springs first and foremost from what is happening in our hearts. The reason why a status quo – and the same status quo, at that, – is to be found in church after church (after church after church) is because as Christians in the fast paced modern world, we all face many similar challenges to one another, and unregenerated human nature, that is, human nature that has not been “born again”, has the same predictable responses to these challenges. Is it easier to invest lots of effort, or to convince ourselves that lots of effort is not truly necessary? Sometimes as Christians we even go so far as to suggest that lots of effort is A Bad Thing. (“Tosin is so super-spiritual!”) This is to justify ourselves in the fact that we don’t actually invest lots of effort and we try to convince ourselves that our very un-superspiritual (or anti-spiritual) stance is the correct and Biblically legitimate model for life. So this is what happens with an individual Christian. It becomes a status quo when everyone is doing it. Additionally, when everyone else is also doing the same thing, then we can feel that this in itself is enough to validate our own choices.
Please stay tuned for the third and final part to this post next week.
Stained Glass window image by Santa Delux at http://www.publicdomainpictures.net