Saturday, August 27, 2011
By Dr. DAN ERICKSON
The real battle in America is not for our nation but for the church in our nation.
“Salt is good, but if it loses it saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.” – Luke 14:34-35
In this passage, Jesus is addressing those who aren’t willing to give everything – those who won’t follow him all the way. He is saying that lukewarm and half-hearted commitment is useless. He is saying that this kind of salt is not even fit “for the manure pile.” How would you like God to say that about you or your church?
It has been said that Christians are like manure: If you spread them out, they can do great good. But if they are gathered together for too long, they stink up the place.
The call to the American church is for total surrender, obedience and abandonment. God does not just want our loyalty, he wants our lives. There is a battle raging and it is not just in our nation or in the pew but in the hearts of every believer (Revelation 3:14-22).
Nowhere in the Bible do people call themselves Christians without being fully devoted disciples of Jesus Christ. Many Christians today are more concerned about going to Heaven than loving the King of Heaven. If we want a little of Jesus to spiritualize our lives or keep us out of Hell, then we are missing out on the abundant life that God wants to give us (John 10:10). Are we like those believers in Revelation 3 who claim to be self sufficient and do not need God?
“You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.” – Revelation 3:17, NLT
Do we serve God because of what He does for us? Or do we seek to serve him because we are in love with him? One is out of duty and the other is out of devotion. Pastor Frances Chan wrote: “If you could be satisfied with life when all your needs and wants are being met, you probably are not in love with Jesus.” Christ desires a relationship – not our self-made religion or righteousness. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to Him and dine with him and He with me.” – Revelation 3:20
In order for the church to change our nation, Christ says: “Here’s what I want you to do: Buy your gold from me, gold that’s been through the refiner’s fire. Then you’ll be rich. Buy your clothes from me, clothes designed in Heaven. You’ve gone around half-naked long enough. And buy medicine for your eyes so you can see, really see. The people I love, I call to account, prod and correct and guide so that they’ll live at their best. Up on your feet then! About face! Run after God!” – Revelation 3:18-19, The Message
What must the church of America become in order to win back our nation? We have made Christianity about a “what” instead of about a “who.” We have made so much to do about the programs and functions of the church that we miss out on who we need to become. It is time for the people to rise up and commit to becoming fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. After meditating on Scripture, I am laying out some principles for us to live and die for.
The Mandate is clear
“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26)
Characteristics of the Bride of Christ (the church)
· She loves God passionately and pursues him. She seeks a relationship with him over religious practices. She loves God with all of her heart, soul, mind and strength. She cares more about what God thinks of her than the world; chooses what is right over what is popular. We must become radical Christians who stand out and do not blend in or compromise. God must captivate every part of our lives. Our church attendance, activities, money and off-the-cuff prayers are not enough. (Isaiah 29:13; Matthew 21:28-31, 22:37-38; Luke 6:26, 9:57-62; Philippians 3:10)
· She thinks more about eternity than life on earth. She understands that life is more than the daily to-do list or work schedule. We should be living our lives based on eternity. (Philippians 3:18-21; Colossians 3:1-4)
· She is genuinely repentant of her sin and doesn’t merely feel sorry about it. Sin breaks our relationship with a holy God. We need to hate sin with a vengeance and love God passionately. (John 10:10; Romans 6:1-6)
· She understands that true success and growth can only be found in prayer. She knows that the only way to reach the nation is by being empowered by the Holy Spirit. She rejects man’s methods and programs and embraces God’s power. She is evidenced not by the natural but the supernatural. (Matthew 26:31-46; Acts 4:13, 20; Philippians 4:6)
· She doesn’t measure her morality or spirituality by others, but by God’s word. Don’t be satisfied that you may live better than someone else. Don’t just pursue morality, but seek purity. (Luke 18:11-12; James 1:21-27)
· She seeks to love others more than herself. She will not allow her love to become conditional and a respecter of persons. We can’t say we love God and not love others unconditionally. They will know him by our love. (Matthew 5:43-47; Luke 14:12-14)
· She commits to serving God and others with all of her resources – her time, talent, treasure, and touch. She must give her best, not her leftovers. It is not equal gifts that God is looking for, but equal sacrifice. We have a tendency to only give or serve if it does not impinge on our schedule or standard of living. He demands everything. (Luke 18:18-25; 21:1-4)
· She takes advantage of every opportunity to be a witness to a lost world. Her walk matches her talk. If your faith is real then share it with others. If we deny Christ he will deny us. We must decrease so he can increase. The only way to win the world is with a water basin and a towel. (Matthew 10:32-33; 28:18-20; John 13; James 4:17)
· She lives by faith, not sight. She puts herself in positions where she has to trust God for every aspect of her life. You will not trust a God you do not know. Faith rests upon His character, not just His promises. The real fruit is out on the limb. Don’t play it safe. Instead, go for it! Let’s not seek rewards now, but those that will come in eternity. (Matthew 10:27-31; Luke 12:13-21; I Timothy 6:17-18; Hebrews 11)
· She considers the poor, broken and downcast. She considers her wealth as an opportunity to meet the needs of both the poor in spirit and those in need. She loves God both with passion and compassion. It is really more blessed to give than to receive. (Isaiah 58:6-9; Matthew 25:31-46)
The ultimate goal of the church in America and every believer should be: “I want nothing more than to live in total surrender, obedience and abandonment to the love and will of God with every moment I have left on earth.”
“Conquerors will sit alongside me at the head table, just as I, having conquered, took the place of honor at the side of my Father. That’s my gift to the conquerors!
“Are your ears awake? Listen. Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blowing through the churches.” – Revelation 3:21-22, The Message