Posted by: Tim Mannin
Our final post (for now) from our conversation about the Church during the "SHE" teaching series.
We are afraid to live the gospel.
Some are ashamed. Some are afraid of looking or being different. Some are fearful of what others will think. Some are afraid that they aren’t ready. Some fear failure. Others are fearful of rejection. And many are fearful of what they don’t know.
FEAR GRIPS US MORE THAN WE WILL EVER ADMIT.
Fear has singlehandedly limited the power of the Church in my life more than anything else I can think of…I’m afraid all the time. I’m scared of what others will think. I’m afraid of not knowing what to say or do. And fear stops me…all too often.
Fear has created believers who stop short of living the gospel.
The gospel is the greatest movement the world has ever seen, but in the U.S. we are witnessing the unstoppable movement of the Church being…stopped all the time.
It’s often stopped (at least severely slowed) by fear. Instead of stepping into these courageous moments of our everyday life we place the majority of our energy and trust into two endeavors in life. These two things are the primary pursuit of a vast majority of Americans.
THE PURSUIT OF SECURITY & COMFORT.
- Comfort of life. A great house and great vacations and an easy work schedule.
- And security – assurance that we won’t loose it. Things like retirement, insurance, nest egg, and our savings account.
Nothing inherently wrong with either of these things. But we must admit that nearly everything in life goes into those two endeavors. Accomplish all you can so you can be comfortable and secure. Basically live a safe life. One in which you don’t risk anything and you gain much. Let me ask you something…is God’s purpose our safety, our comfort, or our security?
One of my favorite writers Erwin McManus says it this way… “Many people say that the safest place to be is in the center of God’s will. I’m sure people say this with the best intentions, however I completely disagree. I believe being in the center of God’s will, will be anything but safe. In fact, it may be the most dangerous place you’ll ever be.”
Listen to Paul.
In 2 Corinthians 26 he says, “I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles, in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea, in danger from false brothers.”
Now if God is about making us feel safe, why was Paul in constant danger? God is interested in us releasing our grip on comfort and security and becoming followers of Christ that will do something courageous with their life.
We cling to truths that God will bless us, take care of us, protect us, and give us peace. Those are great promises and he will do those things…however, I’m not sure those things were promised in the context of a life gripped by fear and pursuing a life of security and comfort. Am I saying your life will be uncertain, full of risk, and in danger of being hurt? I don’t know what I am saying…I am just looking at scripture and trying my best to interpret who we are supposed to be.
In the beginning days of the church the apostles experienced suffering for the sake of the gospel. In Acts 5 they are arrested, threatened, and flogged for proclaiming the life of Jesus, in verse 41 it says, “The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.” (I recommend you to read all of Acts 5).
Will we suffer for Christ they way they did?
It’s unlikely. We aren’t going to be flogged for our faith (thank goodness). We probably won’t be thrown in prison (in this country). Every one of these apostles eventually died for their faith in Jesus, except for John who was put in exile on the Island of Patmos.
We won’t suffer like them.
But have you ever suffered for Jesus? Has your courage come at a cost to you? They rejoiced in their suffering!!
EVERY MOVEMENT IS FULL OF COURAGE & EVERY MOVEMENT REQUIRES FORMS OF SUFFERING.
Today people suffer for the movement of the church. Today people risk their lives for the church. The underground church in China from the 1940’s until the 80’s saw thousands killed or thrown in prison (all the while growing from 2 million to 60 million followers of Christ). Today we have brothers and sisters in Christ in places like Burma, Syria, and Somalia being imprisoned and murdered.
Sometimes we forget how big of a deal Jesus is.
Sometimes we allow our life of plenty to rob us of courage…because we can live without it.
This country could use some more courageous Christians.
We may not suffer like some of our brothers and sisters around the world…but if we aren’t willing to suffer through the small moments of fear that put our reputation at risk, or the possibility of failure or rejection…if we aren’t willing to suffer in those moments??
Well, you get the point.
The Church is a powerful movement.
And she’s been happening for quite some time.
She’s been knocked down. She’s been criticized. She’s been misunderstood, but somehow she endures. She keeps going. She moves when the powers of this world try and stop her. She has more power when she suffers. When it seems like she’s dying in one area of the world, she explodes in another part of the world. She is known for her flaws, but the world unknowingly experiences her grace and her love all the time. She has been hated. She has been loved. When done right She’s the best thing going in this world. Governments and empires have fallen, but she keeps going. She’s endured the Crusades, the Dark Ages, and Darwinism. She leads the way in promoting freedom and love. Darkness has tried to overwhelm her, but the gates of hell will not prevail against her, because no man, no power, can stop what God has started. She is the plan.
God didn’t leave anyone else in control. Jesus didn’t create a plan B.
She’s it. You and I are it.
We. Are. The. Plan.
May we never allow fear to stop…what God has made unstoppable.