Does today’s Christian church at all resemble the church that Jesus pledged to build in Matthew? Here Jesus is speaking to his disciple Peter:
“And I tell you, you are Peter [Greek, petros – a large piece of rock], and on this rock [Greek, petra – a huge rock, like Gibraltar] I will build My church, and the gates of Hades (the powers of the infernal region) shall not overpower it [or be strong to its detriment or hold out against it]” (Matthew 16:18 Amplified Classic).
Despite this description of the church Jesus pledged to build, the most common phrase I hear from Christians as a response to evil government and corporate actions designed to marginalize Jesus and promote evil within our culture is, “Well, God is in control. …”
That being the case, should we be thanking God that:
- Schools are closed for COVID?
- Tyrannical state governors continue making their own laws, determining punishment, and ignoring their legislatures?
- Children abort their babies, without parents even knowing?
- Nursing homes were packed with COVID patients so the elderly will die sooner, and relieve the state of a financial burden it promised to assume?
- Small business are devastated by governors’ illegal actions?
- Foreign-controlled voting machines swapped out election results, our nation’s Supreme Court declined to hear the matter, and Congress voted to seat a demented, compromised candidate as president?
- Early, effective, low-cost COVID treatments are outlawed by tyrannical bureaucrats, in favor of vaccines that have yet to undergo a single large-scale test?
- Churches are closed to worship over COVID, while big-box stores remain open?
I’m sure you can continue the list. The more the merrier. But it’s worth asking, is the church we see today anything like the one that Jesus pledged he would build? Or is it a product of a people who have given up on using God’s power to accomplish God’s tasks?
A personal example: Some time ago, a small church in our community was asked to pray for healing for a young boy who had fallen off a four wheeler in a field and had his head broken open by a rock. The pastor went with the boy to the hospital. The trauma center ordered an MRI. The attending physician told the pastor, “He’s not going to make it.” They life-flighted him to the trauma center, which had a team ready to operate that evening.
When the boy arrived at the trauma center, they found nothing wrong with him. He was kept overnight for observation and released. Yet the MRI remained. Only by God’s coincidence did I meet a close relative. He told me, “There’s two things you don’t know. It wasn’t only your church that was praying. Christian motorcycle groups from San Diego, across America, over through the United Kingdom, Germany, and up into the Netherlands were also praying. [And] not only was this boy completely healed, three other children on the same trauma hospital floor were healed that same night.”
I always thought that any church would celebrate a miracle of that magnitude. There was a mention the next Sunday. Then … nothing.
I suggest to you that the Gospel of Powerlessness disciples are embarrassed when God steps out of the supernatural, into the physical realm, and takes action. It doesn’t fit their understanding of who God is. It doesn’t fit their understanding of what God is doing now in the world.
Just whose God are we talking about here that is in control? It sounds more like the principalities and powers that Paul talked about are running the show. Is this by any stretch of the imagination the church that Jesus went to the cross for?
The Gospel of Powerlessness is very attractive to modern churches – because it requires nothing of them, other than good works, which they can do in their own power. Of the spiritual gifts the Acts Church received, the most prominent today seems to be pastors and teachers.
This enables us to know all about God … without actually knowing God. It’s easy to forget that theology is our view of God; not His view of Himself. I find myself wondering if human reasoning confined to the physical world in which we live can actually arrive at a cohesive view of God – one He would accept.
Knowing about God becomes less important once you actually know God. If there is something about Him that you need to know at any particular time, He will tell you – or show you.
The original 12 disciples didn’t spend much time in theology school learning about God. They spent time with Jesus, learning what He was doing in the world, and how to do it themselves, even after He was gone:
“And Jesus summoned to Him His twelve disciples and gave them power and authority over unclean spirits, to drive them out, and to cure all kinds of disease and all kinds of weakness and infirmity” (Matthew 10:1 Amplified Classic).
If the church today believes these spiritual gifts were only for the original disciples who were with Jesus, what about the commandments He gave them? Did “love one another” only apply to the original disciples? One might think so, given the amount of discord within the Christian community.
Perhaps commandments live forever, but the gifts that demonstrate those commandments disappeared with the deaths of the original disciples.
Anyone today can believe in God, but the commandments that are heaped upon the new convert make a long-term relationship with God unlikely. I spent some time with a Navigators missionary who had returned to America from overseas. We were walking down the sidewalk to a restaurant in a busy city. I noticed his lips were moving as we walked, but he was not speaking. When I asked what he was doing, he replied, “I’m praying for the people around us.” Spending time with God wasn’t something that happened on Sundays in church. I believe he was more or less in constant communication with God.
That is what God needs today. He needs a group of people who are pretty much in constant communication with Him, over matters affecting His creation. I’m sure God enjoys praise and worship music. I even think we have to accept that He likes Christian motorcycle groups. “Pray unceasingly” assumes a relationship with God, not an ever-increasing familiarity with the particular box into which we have placed God.
Given the slightest opportunity, God will escape that box, and we will have to deal with the results.
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