by: Rev. Ed Schneider
Not too ago I was privileged to preach to a gathering of clergy and lay leadership. They were drawn together at a regional meeting of their denomination. Generally, whenever I am asked to speak at one of these types of meetings it is generally expected I will be offering, what I have entitled, a “rah-rah-feel-good” message. The purpose of this kind of message is pointed directly at the emotions of the participants. The goal is to provide a verbal environment through which they can authentically feel uplifted and encouraged, while also allowing for an immediate increase in the audience’s willingness to serve their organizational affiliation. Of course, accomplishing this takes needs to be understood by the listening audience under the theological banner of the cause of Christ. Under normal circumstances that is the “plan.”
Not unlike many who have been called by God to share the meanings and messages of The Divine, the message you arrive with may not necessarily be the one ultimately delivered. This was definitely one of those days. Apparently God had a different plan for me and the audience. Instead of making everyone feel good, I was compelled to symbolically hit the audience and its organizational hosts right between the eyes concerning the failure of many Christian locations…including their own…to competently and passionately fulfill the clearly stated mission Jesus has commissioned to all those who claim to follow “His way.”
As I stood in the pulpit looking out over the eager faces in front of me, I reminded those in attendance the word, “truth” is a highly subjective understanding. In fact, the journey to DISCOVERED TRUTH and its foundations have both confused and intrigued humanity since the time our ancestors learned to ask the question “why?” When a particular “truth” is finally identified and decided upon by an individual their life begins to tangibly transform. It transforms into something new and different while profoundly revealing THE TRUTH being claimed. At that point in my message I shared one of my own DISCOVERED TRUTHS concerning the practical reality of Christianity. There are “Three Essential Truths” all Christians should clearly understand.
Without faithful believers striving to follow these three essential truths the very mission Christ left for the Body-of-Christ, as well as the institutional church, will be in severe jeopardy of outright failure.
In addition to this provocative indictment I offered my attentive audience the hope in the promise of God and the witness of Christ to the world by proclaiming just opposite is also true. I boldly proclaimed by following these Three Essential Truths, all Christian locations can in a very real way be guaranteed a successful outcome for the cause of Christ.
Sounds fairly simple, doesn’t it. Do the following three things and you and your local church will be successful. Don’t do these things…..failure is guaranteed! Are there more components to a successful Christian location? Yes. However, these MUST BE at the very core of all that is done.
THE FIRST TRUTH: purpose (Luke 14:18-23)
18 But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.’ 19 And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.’ 20 Still another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ 21 So that servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.’ 22 And the servant said, ‘Master, it is done as you commanded, and still there is room.’ 23 Then the master said to the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.
The first truth involves the word “purpose.” Our purpose must be His purpose. In Luke 14:18-23, the story is shared how excuses continue to harm and hinder our Christian responsibilities. This story depicts “The Master” telling the servant to stop accepting excuses from others who are suppose to help and go out and do whatever is necessary to fill up His house. The servant goes throughout the community and performs the task assigned at a high level of success. When the master notices there is still room for more people He becomes openly angry. Accepting no excuses for any level of failure, the master tells the servant to go to every place and person imaginable, especially those the rest of the world would look down upon or ignore. The servant is clearly told to do whatever is required to bring them into His house. The Master makes it abundantly clear that both the primary and practical mission of the church is to fill the sanctuary so that God’s glory can be witnessed. Because scripture clearly delineates this divine directive there can be no compromise — no more excuses — concerning this biblical “requirement.”
THE SECOND TRUTH: power (John 14:11-12)
11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves. 12 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.
The second truth involved the word “power.” Our power must be His power not our own. In John 14:11-12, Jesus is purportedly to have told us those who believe, follow him, and subsequently become empowered by the gift of the Holy Spirit will not only be able to do the exact same things He (Jesus) has accomplished but also they will be enabled to do even more. Think about that statement for a minute. Let it sink in. Why do so many disciples of Christ faithfully strive to reach the standards of Jesus when our Lord Himself has clearly stated those who claim him will do the exact same things he has already accomplished and even more?
Beloved, I have been a witness over and over again to faithful Christians doing remarkable things that simply can not be explained through their own means. These Christians have one very special understanding in common. They not only believe in the truth surrounding the resurrection of Christ, they also enthusiastically share in its transformational power. They have felt their own resurrection experience. They know they are working with, and fed by, a power that is not their own. Because of this divine understanding they become capable of “Jesus like” displays. I told the audience to stop limiting themselves to weak, shallow, and mediocre thinking. Jesus himself has promised much, much more.
THE THIRD TRUTH: process (1 Cor 3:16-17)
16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.
In 1 Corinthians 3:16-17, it reminds all of Christ’s followers that His spirit is invested within each follower and that TOGETHER they are miraculously transformed into God’s holy temple. Without a unified understanding, without a divine togetherness, there can be no authentic demonstration of God’s purpose and power. There can be no honest expression of mission, outreach, worship, discipleship and evangelistic efforts unless or until a collective unity has been seen and experienced by others.
It means little if we are faithful to a local body of believers if we haven’t been humbled by the sacrifice of Christ. It means little if we give lots of money and yet give only small and comfortable amounts of ourselves. It means little to say we are Christians if we remain weak, quiet, fearful, and selfish. Boldness of faith, love, self-sacrifice, service to others, worship, unity, and prayer will either define your authenticity or indict your apostasy.
A SIMPLE & DIRECT CONCLUSION
His purpose is our purpose.
His power is our power.
His process is our process.
Beloved, if we can just place these three essential understandings in the forefront of our spiritual minds then WITHOUT QUESTION significant and sustainable advances will be made for the cause of Christ. Just like most things of God, it is far more simple to share with others the WHAT, WHY, and HOW of any mission than it is to actually place these concepts of actualization into practice. However, make no mistake, there are gathering of Christians all over the world who a getting these THREE ESSENTIAL TRUTHS right. If they can accomplish them so can you and your local congregation. If we would just be willing to commit to making them a foundational part of the environment of each local congregation what glory would be given to God Almighty.