About a year ago I went and test drove a few cars. While I was looking, I just decided that I should take a spin in some of the more exotic 2-seaters. After all, I can always look for a used Honda some other time, right? What's the big attraction for me? I guess they have always been exciting and I simply decided that this was my opportunity for a little fun. They were cars that I have always wanted to own, but I haven't been able to afford. As I looked past the Estimated MPG window stickers(which was 12 on the 427R Mustang!) into the luxurious and sporty cockpits, I was in another world. In the end, I was impressed with the Corvette, an American automotive legend. The Crossfire, well that was underwhelming to say the least. I really liked the Mustang which I now own. It is amazing how the Mustang and Corvette have come of age in 50 or so years. It appears to have taken a long time for the automakers to return to their roots in some of the long standing classics such as the T-Bird, the Mustang and VW bug. Each one has retro styling in their newer version. The new VW even has heat in the Winter, not just the summer!
So what does all this have to do with spirituality? The church has long needed to return to its roots. I attend a denomination that was thriving about 10 to 15 years ago. Today, I don't see the exciting life that once was there. What happened, that is all I can ask? I decided to dissect what was going on then, and compare the results to things today.
Before I exit the car analogy, let me say I used to own a 1968 Shelby GT-500KR and drove one of the new Shelbys. There is there is no comparison between the two. The old one had more power, period. The new one handles better and has more creature comforts like a 6 CD changer, A/C and electric seats. I think this is what has happened to the church too. The old one had raw power and in some cases may have been unsafe, and the new one is made for comfort and not much else. Oh sure, there are lots of similarities in the styling, but years of automotive laws, supposedly for our protection, have zapped power and even changed the style. For whatever reason, the two just don't go together. You can't have wild revival meetings in a neat little box where everyone is comfortable all the time. If God is there, the Holy Spirit will cause things to happen. It has always been that way when God showed up. We try and wrap our pet theological understanding around what God is doing. It rarely works. One of my pet peeves is that people often say that God is a God of order. Well, sorry, the verse says. 1 Corinthians 14:33 "For God is not a God of disorder but of peace." Although I do think that God orders things, it is not always logical.. you know, that might be our understanding and not His.
Did you know there was a time when Baptists and Nazarene's (The original Holy-Rollers... yes they rolled on the floor laughing!) both spoke in tongues? But it didn't fit the package and the supernatural wasn't natural enough for denominational leaders. It happens all the time. You make a fast car and someone gets hurt, so you remove the engine, right? Or in biblical terms, you quench the Holy Spirit and sing a few songs, stick to the bulletin and go home. Amen. Poppycock! You don't limit the car or the Holy Spirit, you train everyone to handle the power. It's about character, experience and training. Read Ephesian chapter 4. The church is meant to be equipped for the work of evangelism, teaching, prophecy, apostleship and pastoring. Last time I looked we were training people in homiletics and counseling. What happened? Let's take a look. We took a good thing and made it comfy and explainable (natural). In the midst we got all religious about some prayer, some verse, or some manifestation that worked 40 years ago. And when it didn't work, we began to interpret the Bible to fit our needs, our cultures and the lack of understanding of the supernatural. We didn't listen for God, look for fresh revelation from the Word or change the prayer that once worked. For those that did experience the supernatural, we stopped working at it. We didn't want to pay the price of the anointing. The anointing breaks the yoke, and where yokes are broken there will be opposition! There will be a cost, personal loss and sacrifice for the real work of the Holy Spirit.
Now back to my original rant about my denomination. They have a list of of things that make them a denomination; a family, a way of worship. They actually had some things that were working quite well. When I read the list I couldn't find one thing that they were doing that fit the list. That IS what's wrong. One of our values is to see the gifts of the spirit moving. I would think that it might be in everyone, not just one person. We used to train people in those things, now we have the "How Crappy was My Week" time and go home. Honestly, if we are going to race, we are going to have to train.
I'll see you at the finish line.