Forty years ago a thought crossed my mind that at the time seemed out of sync with the religious world. I felt it would only stand to scold good people who only wanted to serve our Lord but who were already reeling from the new responsibilities imposed upon them as christians experiencing cultural change. I felt the timing was wrong; so, I pondered it in silence until in 2016 I wrote this:
The church is not an organization as much as it is an organism.1 The church does not need to be incorporated as much as it needs to be empowered.2 The church does not follow a constitution; it follows a commission.3 The church’s success was never dependent on finance as much as faith, not planning as much as prayer, not ritual but righteousness for its identity, not size but the Spirit, not government but God, not our vision but His. It is this church that will survive through a postmodern age as a witness. It is this church that can adjust to a new normal without compromising its witness and without losing its own identity in a confused world of unanticipated change.
Whether or not you agree is not important because this, I firmly believe, becomes the church’s only recourse when persecuted if it is to survive …and the church in America is on the threshold of that persecution. The church will survive!
Early this morning I awoke meditating on Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount” (we are going over this in our Saturday Zoom Bible study) and it “hit” me what Jesus was doing then that we should consider now. Beside the content of the sermon, itself, Jesus was preparing a dozen men not just to minister to others but to extend His ministry. They would not be following an academic education or a doctoral thesis or the science behind demographic studies of church growth—as much as these might appear to address the need for harvesting souls. They were to allow His ministry in Israel and beyond to continue, after His ascension, through His church.
The Beatitudes are universal attitudes which Christ sinlessly exemplified. The secret to their endurance and influence in empowering God’s people for service is that they transcend cultural change. The application of them and the many principles outlined by the Savior recorded in Matthew 5-8 are key to our identity as being like Christ—extending His ministry—as we hope to in a cultural setting so much at odds. They profile the followers of the Savior who are passionate about extending His ministry in their own.
The ultimate test of our commitment and dedication to the Lord is to what degree we represent the Savior’s heart to our world displaying an undying hope (Mt. 5:4), an enduring peace (Mt. 5:9), an unconquerable love (Mt. 5:7), an unquestioning faith (Mt. 5:3), and an unquenchable joy (Mt. 5:12). These are the testimony that overcomes.
2 Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you.
3 Matthew 28:19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.