The Way Ahead

It’s amazing how God graciously lights up the way after a spell of prayerful heart-searching, thinking through issues in the light of Scripture and good counsel from wise friends. I refer to my last blog, written in some frustration!

God has a way of returning one to ‘basics.’ I am here referring specifically to basics as regards Church and Kingdom in these hugely challenging (and exciting) days.

I am the kind of person and leader who likes to take as many as possible good followers of Jesus with me in pursuit of a mission I believe to be biblical. This, however, is not always possible, a lesson I had to patiently re-learn these past weeks. As you know, some 5 years ago I deliberately chose the path of simple, organic ‘house church’ after a lifetime’s frustration in a good but essentially traditional, institutional church. These past weeks I have been freshly reminded of the all-importance of foundations,  specifically the foundation on which we seek to build the Church. The Scriptures are quite clear that ultimately the only foundation we can build on is Jesus Christ:  see 1 Cor. 3:10ff; Eph. 2:19ff; Acts 7:44-50 (quoting Isaiah 66:1-2); etc.

I don’t want to bore you with the details of my ‘wrestlings,’ but simply clinch the matter with an extract from a letter from New Zealand, detailing a ‘vision’ received by David Stansell in 2003, concerning change in the Church.

I saw a red brick building. The roof was rotten. The remedy was to remove all the wood in the building. It needed to be replaced. It could not be repaired. Well, this meant that the brick walls would have to be torn down as they were not in shape to support themselves without a connection to the wood. In very poor shape. So I saw the building reduced to the foundation stones. I was ready to see a new building built on this old foundation. However the Spirit of God spoke. “Take out the foundation. It is not substantial enough to support the building that I am ready to build on this ground.”
The building that God is ready to build is to be so much more glorious than our present understanding. However, are we ready for Him to take down the present building? And take it down all the way to the original dirt? Our human side wants to hold on to something that is recognizable from our past. It then becomes that ‘leaven’ that brings back all the old junk of the previous life. 

Then I heard, “I am looking for a ‘General Contractor’ who will build according to the blueprint.” Then I understood that He would only entrust the construction of this building to someone who is fully submitted to do all and not less that comes from the throne of heaven. We are not the architect. It is not our job to design the building. 

How many of us will accept the challenge and pay the price? In my own country of South Africa there is a growing (but not big enough yet) group of people burned out on ‘Christian religion’ and wanting to build on the one true foundation. It is certainly not easy, for we fight 1700 years of institutional church tradition. However we are thrilled with the fruits we do see!

Where do we go from here?

I don’t know whether you have noticed it too? Probably as the result of the influence of postmodernism on Christianity (certainly one of the major factors), there is hardly speak these days among evangelical and charismatic Christians about God’s holiness on the one hand and therefore a sensibility of sin on the other. You see it also in the blurring of lines when it comes to personal and corporate moral issues.

Surely an exegesis of Isaiah chap. 6 on the one hand and 1 John chap. 1 on the other reveals the key-nature of ‘walking in the light’ (walking = one step at a time, a slow but steady process) because ‘God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all.’ 1 John 1 and 2 refer again and again to taking ‘sin’ seriously and dealing with it via confession, repentance, cleansing, obedience to God’s commands, etc.

I attended an inter-church ‘prayer meeting’ last night aimed at ‘personal revival.’ It had been said prior to that, ‘revival begins in the individual’s heart.’ I could really go along with that, hence my appearance at the prayer meeting. Eighty minutes later, after much worship in song conducted by a pastor who hardly stopped speaking while leading in song, and with not twenty seconds of silence (quite literally), the ‘prayer meeting’ was over.

Yes, opportunity was given for people to share visions and prophetic words (with the guitar never quiet), but I felt myself screaming inside, ‘Why don’t we all just shut up so that God may get a word in somewhere!’ Just maybe He wanted to speak not only through the earth quake, wind and fire but through the ‘gentle whisper…’ I went home thinking that perhaps I was just being super-critical, yet I had gone to the meeting with, I believe, a sincere desire for the Lord and His working in my life and in that of others’.

I think there was one reference (in the meeting) to dealing with ‘the rubbish’ in our lives in the pursuit of God’s presence. David surely got it right in Ps. 51, also in Ps. 139, after being thoroughly confronted with God’s ominiscience, omnipotence, omnipresence and omnirighteousness:  Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (I have heard some believers calling this ‘old covenant’ stuff, no longer relevant to the Christian who now shares in God’s ‘new covenant’ in Christ – good old antinomianism?).

So where do we go from here? Any thoughts?? (practical ones!)