Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christians - May I have your attention for a moment?

May I have your attention for a moment? I write as a lay person with a deep concern for Christianity in the modern world.
I am inviting comment and reflection, maybe some will share my passion, some may disagree. However, let us review how we practically live out our Christianity in this age.
Where do I begin? Back in the mid 70’s I made a very conscious decision to refer to the Christian scripture as the last word on matters of faith and reality. I had experienced a prodigal’s return and building on my Christian roots was crucial to the journey back to normality.
It became clear to me early on, that pride in its various forms was a very basic trap, so I resolved to keep matters simple. It was clear to me that our God does not judge on the basis of intelligence therefore the truth had to be simple and understandable.
If the bible was indeed God’s roadmap for life then its understanding was not confined to the scholars, but rather the keys for understanding were available to all.

From my learning about Church history I found that repeatedly, when God impacted a whole society and there was wholesale repentance, everywhere bibles were being dusted off, as everyone intuitively knew that when things got serious with God, the bible was the place to look for understanding.
And so it is today, we are in need of a fresh visitation; our society is progressively and rapidly rejecting Christian values and truths.

But it is us I would like to talk about. Brothers and Sisters in Christ, how does our mode of living compare to the simple teachings of the scripture?
There is general agreement that wherever Jesus reigns the Kingdom of God is present.
God in Jesus was quite specific about how we should recognise this. He sent word to John, in order that these would be no doubt, “the blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.”

Now the reality is that these signs of the Kingdom are almost totally absent in New Zealand Christianity today yet these signs confirm the presence of Jesus.
What then has happened? This evidence of Jesus was clearly present in the early church but is noticeably absent in modern day Christianity for the most part.
I have to say that there are some simple reasons for this.
Those committed to our church work have become sophisticated and professional. They are generally well trained, talented individuals, able to lead, good managers, but are usually unfamiliar with the power of Jesus at work.

Why has this happened?
Looking back on the last thirty years, the times when Kingdom miracle signs have been evident in New Zealand certain conditions have been met.
Firstly there has been a God given unity among the believers involved.
Management and motivation were not predominant but simple Faith and Love was.
There was generally a lay ministry flowing, the believers would come together to share what God had done, there was a credible manifestation of Jesus in everyday life.
Being part of such an exciting experience meant that things of earth did grow strangely dim… we held onto our possessions more lightly, and there was supply for those who stepped out in God’s purpose without visible support.
The body of believers owned the vision which was planted in their hearts by Jesus rather than being sold by the leaders.
It seems that in the absence of God’s power we have built better programmes to compensate, become better organised so much so that it would be business as usual whether Jesus turns up or not.
Of course we have modified our theology to justify what isn’t happening, but this only masks the problem.
How then do we return to a vibrant biblical Christianity with conversion growth, and transformed lives? We need to return to the early church model clearly represented in the first Jerusalem Church (Acts 2:42-47), and the writings of Paul.
Start small with your close friends, read the scripture together and give God a blank page and room to move. Say less and pray more. Believe and act on the words of promise in the scripture. Confess your sin to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed…

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