January 25, 2010
Oh dear God, I am distressed. We are so concerned about days and places and even what we will serve up for morning coffee and/or breakfast at street church…
But after reading in Jeremiah this morning, I am again most concerned about people’s hearts. Following You is first of all about spiritual life! We seem to pray less than we used to, and our “services” are far too often far from You word (although maybe that is a result of trying to follow YOU – THE WORD – rather than just following a “manual” … not to say that the Scriptures themselves are “just a manual” … rather, fear that “study” and “theologizing” have too often taken Your powerful and mighty word, and turned it into a “dead letter” … but oh, Papa, when I go for even a very few days without Your word – the “scriptures” through which You have chosen to speak – I very quickly begin to thirst and starve.
You are “the Word” … and restored relationship with You is the ultimate purpose, but Your word, recorded and written, from Your very mouth as Jesus visited mankind, and also spoken through prophets and judges and apostles, and through the very lives of Your people – not to mention Your speaking through the beauty of creation, and Your over-riding, on-going interactions with humanity through all time – Your written word is a key way You chose and designed to bring us into that relationship with You. We cannot neglect it – but at the same time, we must approach it with our hearts and living, walking, in tune with You – through Your Spirit – the Spirit of Christ, Whom You place within us who believe.
We can foolishly avoid “too much study” out of fear that the study itself will become the end rather than a means (or that we will make it the only means…) of knowing You. We do need Your written word – in relationship with You, with Your Spirit!
One thing M said yesterday really stuck to me. He said there ARE churches where the people really DO love You and love each other – in all aspects of their lives.
And that is true. The “form” of “a church” is not a big deal – IF You are truly among Your people, and they truly love You with all their heart and strength and soul and mind, and love their neighbor as themselves.
But that is what the enemy does every moment: tries to strike at that love. It really doesn’t matter at all the “place” and the “worship style/ liturgy” and the “form” and so on… he, the enemy, knows those (beyond the basics of prayer and sharing the word and praise) are simply creative outlets and cultural adaptations and so on, neither right nor wrong in themselves, so long as they are fully committed to the purpose of loving God totally, and loving one’s neighbor as well. That’s why pride is so deadly – in glorifying “self” (or even “ourselves” as in “our church, our denomination, our worship form, our building, our outreaches, our programs, our lifestyles, etc) we no longer love God and others! The enemy only cares to destroy that, and then the rest won’t even matter.
God may call us, or allow us, even encourage us, to different styles, methods, groups of people, whatever – but in the end it is all for His overriding purpose: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:16-17). And… “God is love, and the one who abides in love, abides in God, and God abides in him.” (1 John 4:16) … And Ephesians chapter 1, too! Check it out!
And without that love: Jeremiah 5:13 “The prophets are as wind, and the word is not in them… 30. An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land. 31. The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule on their own authority; and My people love it so! But what will you do at the end of it?” … and … Jeremiah 6:10 “To whom shall I speak and give warning that they may hear? Behold, their eyes are closed and they cannot listen. Behold, the word of the LORD has become a reproach to them; they have no delight in it…. 14. They have healed the brokenness of My people superficially, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ but there is no peace…. 19. Hear, O earth; behold, I am bringing disaster on this people, the fruit of their plans, because they have not listened to My words… 28. All of them are stubbornly rebellious, going about as a talebearer.