My queen and I had taken 10 days of R&R and found ourselves on Fitz Roy Island in the Great Barrier Reef off Australia. The entire island is a National Park with only one small resort. Extremely conducive to quiet and reflection. I would rise early every morning, take about a 20-minute hike to a small picturesque cove studded with huge boulders, white sand and turquoise water. Just a perfect setting to look down on and spend time with God.
While reflecting one day the Lord strongly impressed me with the thought, "What do you really see Jim." I knew what the Holy Spirit was trying to bring to my mind. At this point in my life I was 68 years old, had spoken in every state in the United States, had the privilege of speaking in over 21 different countries around the world and worked with over 13 different denominations, dozens of self-supporting institutions, independent ministries and home churches. God wanted me to synthesize what He allowed me to see and experience over the past three decades.
Romans 1:21 summarizes it quite well, "For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him." That's a tough summary! As I sat there and meditated on those words, I knew that what counts is whether you have been truly TRANSFORMED into a new creation. Your denomination, your religious culture, your status in the church don't count! It's all vanity unless- you've honestly have become a new creature!
As I contemplated the places I had been, the variety of people I have worked with and the condition of the majority of "professed believers," I wrote down these three words, Stagnant - Anesthetized - Robotic!
Stagnant means there's nothing genuinely happening inside. They haven't changed, they are the same as they were one year ago, three years ago, five years ago. They are just the same person despite all the sermons, books and services they've attended. Is that you? Are you the same person you were 12 months ago, three years ago? If so, who really is in charge of your life? Is it you or is it Jesus Christ? Is He merely your Savior and not actually your Lord? Good questions to ask and asked them we must.
Anesthetized! We are numb to our true condition, asleep to what is veritably going on and insensitive to the real needs of those around us. As Romans 1:18 says, "We hold the truth in unrighteousness." Which leads us to suppress the truth and hold false views of God and His word, because we know the truth would require of us a deeper and truer repentance. It is called a Foolish Virgin experience. Does the Holy Spirit have access to you with His slightest whisper? If not, why not? Have you become numb to His whispering in your ear of
challenge or correction or
need to change? Doesn't the apostle Paul challenge us to, "Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, That Jesus Christ is in you? - Unless you are disqualified." 2 Corinthians 13:5
Robotic! Just going through the motions. Self-satisfied, hollow and superficial. Just moving in circles. 2Timothy 3:5 says it's so very well, "Having a form of godliness but denying its power, from such turn away." The power we are denying is the heart of Christianity. It is the indwelling and overflowing of the Holy Spirit working within each believer's life and transforming them into the very image of God per His entire Word. Is that you? Or do you just maintain an outward pretense, speaking the vocabulary of Christianity, but refusing the reality of the life of Christ guiding your every thought, word and action?
The psalmist said it so well, "Because they have NO CHANGES therefore they fear not God." Psalms 55:19 That is why we are stagnant - anesthetized and robotic. We have one arm around ourselves and one arm around God. That is called an amalgamation or a double minded man.
I think we need to stop pretending we are having a relationship with God - while having an affair with ourselves! When push comes to shove, we prefer our own wisdom to God's wisdom, our own desires to God's will and our own reputation to God's honor. Often other relationships are more important to us then God. What would the video of your life show?
Jesus did not die simply for us to have a free pass to heaven - a get out of jail free card. No, Jesus wants to transform our entire life, He wants to revitalize our marriages, to connect our families and to empower our characters that we may be a living demonstration of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world. Can this be said of you? Is your marriage an example of what it means to be- in love? Is your family life well-ordered and Christ centered? Is your character of the order of Christ likeness? Tough and thought provoking questions- but we must ask them. What is God saying to you right now? What is your conscience whispering to you? Are you all God's or only in part?
To accept what Jesus has done for us, while resisting what He wants to do in and through us, is a fruitless religion. It is a faithless religion that doesn't work and leaves us stagnant, anesthetized and robotic? Empty and without power. That is why the church is not finishing the work. Most are without Christ as their core
If what we presently have is as good as it gets? If what our churches presently offer is as good as it gets? Then we need to re-investigate the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was Jesus that explained, "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees." Matthew 16:11 Why? Because the leaven of hypocrisy leavens the whole lump, which includes you, your marriage and your family. Thus, there is no demonstration that the gospel has power and without a vital demonstration we stall the second coming.
The real challenge of the Christian life is not so much to align yourself with the right denomination or active local church, as it is for each individual to live out his faith in the midst of 120 million professed Christians with less power than the 12 disciples. On the judgment day God, will not be weighing in the balances your denomination and your local church. God will be judging what you did with the grace delivered to you! It's called individual responsibility and accountability.
Christ is our Living Water
If your church is, "The Authentic Church," it teaches you to accept Jesus as your daily Savior and daily Lord! Freeing you from sin - self and society. Where you find a real soul mate in Jesus Christ. Where God becomes your reality - not the forms of religion. Because the point of the Christian faith is not to be a good church member -it is to be a transform child of God - a new creature in every respect!
Yes, the church is active- but stalled. It is in a spiritual coma where most members are comfortable with their spiritual experience and are indifferent to the needs of those in the world and even in their own local churches. However, a "holy discontent" is starting to develop in individuals all around the world. They are becoming tired of the low grade of piety and are reaching the end of their tolerance for religion as they see it today and are craving true spiritual depth. God is causing a shaking in their hearts and putting a fire in their bones for God and God alone.
They are coming to understand that their only safety and security is God. They are beginning to ask the right questions out of spiritual hunger and need. An ever-present God consciousness is being born out of their deep deficit. Intimacy with God is starting to become their reality and a profound compassion for others their byproduct. Will you be one of them or are you going to settle for religiosity?
Jim & Sally