The Paralysis of Predictability
The same thing is going on today. Many of those who claim to be “Christ followers” have lost Jesus in the predictability of their practices. Though in most cases they don’t see it, they have turned inward and practice their faith to benefit an exclusive few. They fight to keep the church serving their interests and preferences rather than making sure that it is serving God’s purposes.
What the church today needs is what Jesus came to bring: a revolution. But it won’t come easy, and it won’t come without a price.
In both the Old and New Testaments, there were seasons when the majority of those who claimed allegiance to God and His truth had actually replaced Him with other things. This was clearly seen by the rejection of God’s prophets and ultimately Jesus Himself. They were rejected, not just by outsiders, but also by insiders. And, as Jesus promised, this happened to those seeking to genuinely follow Him in the early days of the church. It continues to happen today.
This happens because people, without realizing it, slowly begin to commit themselves to the forms of faith rather than the life-changing reality of faith. Though often subtler and less dramatic, it’s no different in its destructive consequence than it was with those who rejected Jesus while He was on earth. In 2 Timothy 3:1-5, Paul warns us about this danger and warns us to stay away from people who fall into this trap.
A Form of Godliness
The warning Paul gives is that the characteristics of our dark and destructive world will become representative of those who profess to be followers of Christ and part of His Church. They will have a “form of godliness” while “denying its power.”
While declaring allegiance to Him and His truth, they shut Him out of their lives. They make a commitment to …
• their traditions over His truth (Matt. 15:1-3);
• past experiences of Him over present experiences with Him (Phil. 3:12-14);
• trying to defend what they have over trying to take new ground (Matt. 16:18);
• living for duty rather than for love and desire (2 Cor. 5:14);
• the church as a place rather than as God’s people following Christ (1 Cor. 3:10);
• their church culture, structure and strategy over God’s mission (Matt. 28:19-20);
• talking the talk rather than walking the walk (1 Cor. 4:20).
Sadly, this appears to have become the reality of our world today. Most of our churches aren’t creating a revolution of light and love because they’ve replaced Jesus with their routines. They have chosen the “form of godliness” over “its power.”
Jesus gave the solution in Revelation 3:20, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with Me.”
If we want to wake up the world to the reality of Jesus, we need to be knowing and living out His reality in our lives and churches. The question is: Will we hear His knock and open the door?
If we want our churches to fulfill the mission Jesus gave us, we must be like Jesus—revolutionaries. If we are genuinely experiencing and following Him, we will be like Him. As His story makes clear, it won’t be easy and won’t come cheaply. But when our world experiences the revolution of love and hope He died to make possible, it will be worth it.