Enough Stuff

Many pastors long for revival to break out in their churches. There’s nothing wrong with that. One of the characteristics of revival is a powerful feeling of contrition that sweeps over the people. In other words, God’s spirit leads the people to face up to their sins. Genuine contrition includes action such as making things right—if possible—with those we have sinned against; restoring damaged and broken relationships. It’s been a long time since I have seen a wave of repentance for sin/immorality sweep through a church.

At this point in history, the church needs more than a season of revival at a handful of churches across the country. I think the entire Christian church in America needs to make some deep changes. Three in particular stand out in my mind—pride, ungratefulness, and possessions. Pride because we think more highly of ourselves than we ought. We often refuse to deal with our role in broken relationships. We harden our hearts. Ungratefulness because we complain about the most inane things when we really have abundance. Possessions because as the years pass we just keep acquiring more stuff, whether we need it or not. Eventually the possessions have too much hold on our mind. Stuff comes between us and God. Many Christians aren’t even aware there is a problem with these issues in our lives.

I know of a prominent Christian businessman—we’ll call him Cooper—who increased his personal wealth through some unethical business transactions. In the process he wronged a few people close to him. Slowly Cooper convinced himself that he is the victim. As it is now, his testimony (his public example) as a Christian is tarnished. His pride prevents him from honest self-examination through the perspective of Christ. He has become delusional as to his condition. At some point along the timeline of his life, he latched onto a well-to-do lifestyle image. It fuels something unhealthy in his heart; it may be a fear that he doesn’t have enough or that his worth is tied to his money and lifestyle. He complains that those he wronged are less intelligent than he and have overreacted. Cooper also complains about the structure in the modern Christian church. He dislikes the way denominations discipline fallen clergy (perhaps accountability makes him uncomfortable). I don’t know if he goes to church any more. If you met Cooper for the first time you would instantly like him. Handsome and affable, he comes across as someone who loves life and is trustworthy. His outward appearance belies something gone wrong in the core of his being.

Tragically, I have encountered other Coopers in my many years in various evangelical churches. I understand Christians are not perfect. I understand we are often at different places in our spiritual development. I understand some people are more mature than others. I get it. But I wonder when we are going to start seeking the Holy Spirit’s power to break through our self-deceptions and lead us into that massive revival and restoration so many pastors long for.

We can hold weekly Bible studies and prayer groups at our workplace. We can be outspoken about our faith. We can be highly visible in our local church. We can go on short-term missionary trips. We can give to the needy. We can do all the things that identify us as Christians, but if our hearts and ethics have not been transformed, I wonder if we have run off the rails. You see, our ethics are more than our position on abortion or gay marriage. Our ethics reveal whether we have allowed the love of Christ to fully engage our hearts. Perhaps our personal ethics, in all areas of life, are as important as the big social issues of our times.

We can’t rely on just the law to guide our ethics. In Matthew 5:41 Jesus said “If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles.”

In those days, if a Roman soldier asked you to carry their gear for a mile you were legally obligated to do so. So Jesus is telling us to do more than the law requires. It’s not possible unless we let him transform our heart. Yep, the love of Christ flowing through our hearts fixes many problems. Now that would be a revival!

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Posted on May 5, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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