Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Revival We Need... Thoughts From A Weeping Prophet

“An astonishing and horrible thing
Has been committed in the land: 
The prophets prophesy falsely,
And the priests rule by their own power;
And My people love to have it so.”
(Jeremiah. 5:30-31)

Though these words were written thousands of years ago, they plainly ring true to God’s people today. Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, could stand in most churches on any given Sunday and declare these same words and we would be forced to plead “guilty”.

My good friend Dr. Michael L. Brown once said, “The majority of what we see in churches across America is simply man’s best effort to make up for the lack of the presence of God”. How sad it is that his statement was and is right on.

Perhaps one of the most difficult things that church leaders do is discern the spiritual climate of the people they oversee and then listen for the voice of the Lord on how to steer them toward a deeper life with God Himself.

As church leaders, we are simply “friends of the Bridegroom” and nothing more. Our main objective is to prepare the bride for her wedding day with the Lord. We encourage her to keep oil in her lamp and to run the race set before her. We cheer her on to fight the good fight and finish the race well.

This is no "walk in the park" and perhaps this is the main reason why it is imperative for church leaders to live a life of prayer. The bride needs leaders who take serious the practice of spiritual disciplines such as solitude, reflection, fasting, study, worship and so on.  The church, once again, needs leaders who walk with God and who can teach others to do the same. If ever there was a need in the church today it is for leaders who know God and not just leaders who know about Him.

Today, more than ever, we have:

·      Christian radio and music
·      Christian movies and entertainment (even Christian comedians)
·      Christian books, audio books and magazines
·      Christian TV networks
·      Countless Bible teachers and preachers
·      Hundreds of Bible schools and seminaries
·      Thousands of children involved in Bible quizzing
·      Untold numbers of Bible translations
·      Untold numbers of Bible commentaries
·      We have an ever increasing number of Christian homeschoolers
·      We have Vacation Bible Schools without number
·      We have Bible studies galore
·      And countless home groups

Without a doubt, we know more about the Bible today than any other generation in history and yet our carnality runs as deep as the ocean. How is it that we have so many people boasting of theological knowledge, yet the majority of Christians live like spiritual babes? Our knowledge has produced more pride than purity. What’s the problem? I believe God’s words to Jeremiah may give us some insight.

“For My people are foolish,
They have not known Me.
They are silly children,
And they have no understanding.
They are wise to do evil,
But to do good they have no knowledge.”
(Jeremiah 4:22)

Now, we could spend all of our time pointing out what is broken with the church (remember, finding fault with something is a cheap gift and everyone has it) or we could go to what I believe is the root of the problem: “They have not known Me.”  It seems that in every generation there is a need to return to God Himself. Our generation is no different.

As evangelical Christians we are so quick to declare that, "Christianity is not about religion, it’s about a relationship!” And then we spend the rest of our lives religiously reciting the “Romans Road” and memorizing scripture to back up the validity of the prayer we prayed to “accept Christ” (the miracle is that He has accepted us). But wait a minute, what about the relationship part? When do we get on with knowing Him and not just knowing about Him? When do we stop feeling like victims of false advertisement?

This is perhaps the greatest failure of the church and the very reason for our shallow living. The truth is that we can only give what we ourselves have. I don’t fault people, for to do so I would have to fault myself. For many years, I thought that Christianity was all about memorizing scripture and avoiding sin. Though I still believe strongly in both of these, I have come to understand that these are byproducts of something far greater. That’s right, you guessed it, the “relationship”. The relationship that I have with Him makes me hungry to read His word and reflect upon it. In fact, the more I read the Bible the more I understand where our evangelical statement, “It’s not about religion, it’s about a relationship” came from. The Bible is lovingly laced with verse after verse that woos, “Come know Me!”

And as for avoiding sin, it’s only natural not to want to flirt with my Groom’s enemies. I don’t want to sin, because I love Him and I want to keep myself clean for my wedding day. I don’t want to come to the altar with stains on my wedding gown. He washed me with His blood and clothed me in righteousness (I’m sorry to say that He has had to launder my gown with patience, forgiveness, and mercy many times).

It has taken me and my generation far too long to understand that God alone is enough. It is in Him that we live, move and have our being. I believe if there is going to be a revival, it must be a revival of knowing Him; a drawing near to the God who whispers to us in the secret place, “Come know Me!”

By Tom Zurowski 

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