The Lord’s presence is taken for granted by many Christians today.
In fact, most churches just assume that the Lord is present and delighted in most everything that they do.
All because an opening prayer was made in Jesus’ name, beautiful hymns were sung, the pastor preached a very passionate sermon, or that people really felt the presence of the Lord in the service that day.
How Do We Know?
It is a bit disconcerting to realize that the Lord doesn’t really have much to do with most of the activity in our churches these days.
And that’s not because He isn’t always near us, ready to help us, ready to fellowship with us.
It’s because we have abandoned much of what He values and have replaced it with our own set of priorities and principles.
The Pragmatic View
Many of my brothers in Christ are locked into a pragmatic view of spiritual things — focused more on the work that needs to be done instead of the Lord’s presence in their midst.
This runs in perfect parallel to the account of Jesus at the home of Lazarus (Luke 10:38-42). This is where Martha was running around trying to get stuff done while Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet and listening to Him.
Martha was not happy.
And so, she asked Jesus why He didn’t tell Mary to get up and help her work.
(I realize that I have often referred back to this passage in these posts. But it is such an accurate illustration of where our Christian culture is today. I mean, dead on.)
One will often hear this passage explained in church. Explained incorrectly, that is.
While the real meaning of this account is so obviously ignored. By making it into something about the balance between work and rest. Or how there is a time to sit down and a time to work.
While ignoring the Lord’s obvious rebuke, although gentle, of Martha’s attitude and priorities.
Pastors continually misinterpret this lesson because the church is too occupied with its own goals and outreaches; and it fails to see that nothing of value will ever get done unless the church stops its own activity and sits down to listen to the Lord.
Just as Martha was supposed to do.
Self Confidence or Christ Dependence?
This happens because the church, as a whole and Christians individually, have more confidence in their own abilities than they do in Christ. They believe that the people in the church need to get out of their classrooms and out into the world.
As an example, churches often equate the planting of another church branch as being of equal, if not greater value, than fully discipling those within a church that already exists.
In other words, gathering more sheep rather than feeding the sheep that are already in the flock; by insisting that the unfed and unprepared sheep go out to find more sheep.
As if duplication of a flock is the ultimate goal.
Or, to put it another way, increasing the number of times a gospel message gets out rather than taking care that the message itself is both solid and presented in a biblical way.
All this focus on numbers has never been the focus of Christ. The Lord was not in a hurry to duplicate His numbers. He wasn’t running around trying to maximize his media coverage.
Our numbers and duplication focus is a great mistake. In fact, this is one of the core problems that developed within the Evangelical movement in the last century. And has continued to escalate within our churches to this day.
To Be Continued . . .