In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? Luke 24:5
What our world often is seeing in our day is a devoted, committed Christian serving God. But, they are not seeing God. They comment on what we are doing, “Well, there’s a wonderful, dedicated, committed group of people serving God.” They, however, do not see anything happening that can only be explained in terms of the activity of God. Why? Because, we are not attempting anything that only God can do. Henry Blackaby
“Spiritually Dead” is probably too strong an indictment for the church in America…”spiritually limping” or “spiritually challenged” may be closer descriptions. But whatever the precise measure, few of us would deny that the church in America is hurting right now. With the exception of some clear pockets of vibrancy, the church in our culture is simply not the bastian of enlightenment it once was for the world. Moreover, our two youngest adult generations are running from the church, which does not bode well for our future.
If the Blackaby quote above is accurate, if this lost and broken world is truly looking for God-sized evidence that the church is a place to find truth, then we are in trouble…because they are looking for God-sized evidence in a culture of man-sized efforts.
The American church is blessed. We have had over 200 years of absolute freedom to grow and to express ourselves and to figure out all the best ways to further our institution without fear of governmental interference (or any other real interference, for that matter). As a result, we have gotten very, very good at doing church. We build amazing buildings, produce amazing communicators, have amazing music, and create amazing programming. We have become, well, amazing. What we have to show for our efforts is the very best product man can produce. Amazing, right? But the sad truth is, we have gotten so good at doing church in our own strength and creativity, that if God were to pull out and leave us tomorrow, it might be decades before some of our institutions would ever notice it.
When I first published this post, it was in anticipation of Easter…the one time each year when, all around the world, Christians celebrate the event which changed the world forever. And now, here we are again, having begun the lenten season and looking forward to Easter. Resurrection Sunday celebrates a Savior who is very much alive and whose Spiritual vibrancy started a revolution which would turn the world upside down and inside out. But in actuality, for the Christ-follower, every Sunday is Resurrection Sunday. We follow a Savior who is both present and active all the time…and when He acts, huge things happen.
As a church, then, we have an important decision to make. Do we show people the very best of our human achievements (i.e., our buildings, preaching, music and programming), or would we rather just show people Jesus? Is it possible that we have actually so saturated our culture with our own gawdy achievements that they have stopped looking to us for God? After all, if Jesus is truly God-sized and full of Spiritual life, why would they look to our little man-sized kingdoms? Why “look for the living among the dead”?
The way forward for the American church is the same way it has always been. We just need to remember the only church-growth formula that ever mattered in the first place…if the Son of Man is lifted up, I will draw all men to me…we just need to show people Jesus.
© Blake Coffee