Is the church’s single-minded emphasis upon rescuing souls hampering the growth of the church?
For many individuals this will seem like a very controversial question and whom would say that obviously the more souls that are saved, the larger the growth of the church. However, I would like to question that assumption and suggest that this mindset hampers an individual’s spiritual growth.
I really enjoyed the Truman show. It was thought provoking and had many meaningful parallels. Towards the end of the movie, I began to see a parallel between Christof and the devil. Christof had successfully deceived Truman into thinking that Seahaven was the real world. That everything in it had meaning and was all that mattered. Further, because he had ‘trained’ Truman to believe this, he held Truman captive through the lies. The devil uses a similar method to hold us captive. He throws us lies about happiness, saying we will find meaning through satisfying our desires. These messages tell us that if we attain enough sex, money, possessions, power, etc., we will find meaning and purpose. And so, we chase after this false world, living daily in a meaningless life full of created things that make us feel good for a while. But, because they don’t fulfill us…
“A boy is trapped in a sinkhole. As a result of his cries for deliverance a man approaches the edge of the hole and sees the child’s predicament. However, upon the return of the man, the boy is presented with, not a rope, but canned food and other elements of survival. The man then returns home to tell his family about the brave lad in the woods who has decided to turn from the limits of societal norms and haters to live in a hole. Naturally, the story spreads and soon the boy is being interviewed and making national headlines for is bravery in discovering who he really is. Eventually, the boy becomes proud of who he is and inspires others to live in holes, too.”
As a Christian in America, I can easily become distracted from the important things. I’ve been realizing how easily I can forget important principles and truths from Scripture. So, I’ve compiled a quick list of 5 things we Christians often lose sight of and forget:
“My hope is built on nothing less, Than Jesus blood and righteousness, I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly trust in Jesus name” ~ Cornerstone, Hillsong Worship
All too often we put our hope in something other than Christ. I often put my hope in the political outlook or in a candidate. Many people put their hope in finances or in having a good job. Others put their hope in relationships. Let’s remember to put our hope in Christ first. “Israel, put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.” ~ Psalm 130:7
“The devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” ~ 1Peter 5:8
As human beings, we have a disadvantage of not being able to see the spiritual realm. Because of this, we often forget that there is a spiritual war being fought all around us. God’s angels are valiantly fighting the Devil’s minions in an epic war. Our disadvantage is that we are a part of the war. But, being unable to see it makes it very difficult to participate. We need to be aware that the Devil is trying to destroy us and is constantly out to oppress us with his demons, and to tempt us with sin. We need to take of the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, and use it daily in our fight against evil (Ephesians 6).
“This world is not my home, I’m here for a moment…I’m bound for glory.” ~ Bound for Glory, Vertical Church Band
Those of us who live in the Western world, and in a first world country, probably struggle with this concept more than those who don’t. Jesus said it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven (Matthew 19:27). It is very easy to let the comforts of our lives, and the good gifts God has given us, to become too comfortable for us and for us to trust them for our salvation. We need to remember that we are only here for a short time, and the comforts and joys in heaven will far outweigh what is good here! Let’s fix our eyes on things above (Colossians 3:2)!
Persecution is a Privilege, Suffering is a Given
We are guaranteed to suffer in this life (1Peter 4:12-19). God tells us throughout Scripture that difficult trials that we face are given to us in order to refine us and mold us to be more like Christ. We need to redefine how we think of “good”. Rather than it being what we deem as enjoyable and comfortable, we need to realize “good” means whatever draws us closer to God. We also need to realize that not all of us will be given a chance to experience hardcore persecution. Scripture teaches it is a privilege. Some of us will sigh in relief… But we need to remember that “a good follower of Yesu (Jesus) is like the ox – ready either for the plow or the alter, for service or for sacrifice.” ~ Safely Home, Randy Alcorn pp.347
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood,but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” ~ Ephesians 6:12
The political authorities in this world who are doing evil, the mean kid at school, the bad cop who is racist, all of these people are really just puppets for the Devil. They have souls, and Jesus died for them. Our fight is not with them; it is with the Devil. So let’s pick up our Sword, and our quiver of Prayer, and not spend our time fighting them, but fighting the enemy.
The danger of sin is that anyone can fall, no matter how spiritually strong they are. Danger is not in making the big mistake, but rather making the small ones leading up to the big mistake. We should not be worried about being presented with a big sinful temptation and falling into it, but rather the indifference towards sinful patterns leading up to the temptation (not to say when you are tempted you are sinning, but rather when you fall to the temptation, perhaps you had been sinning prior.)
Take King David for example. His big mistake, was arguably his adultery with Bathsheba. David didn’t randomly give into sin… He ALREADY had been giving into sin. He was supposed to be out fighting with his men, not staying home. Had David been presented the temptation in any other situation, I believe he would have resisted the temptation and not committed adultery. But he gave into temptation earlier and thus numbed his heart towards the Holy Spirit, so that when the next temptation came, and one on a larger scale, he did not respond to the dulled voice of the Holy Spirit.
Applications to this are many. We need to not only pray that God will deliver us in time of great temptation, but also ask his help to say no to the small temptations. This is why I believe we need to bring EVERYTHING to God in prayer. Not just the big things, we need to bring the tiny, small things to Him too. Perhaps this is why Paul urges us to pray without ceasing.
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13
Originally the coelacanth was believe to be a transitional form between fish and amphibians. This was because its bone structure was different from most present-day fish. The coelacanth fish was believed to be extinct. However, in 1938 a fisherman caught two living coelacanths. He brought them to some scientists who studied the creature. After studying the creatures soft tissue they realized that the coelacanth was merely a fish and not a transitional form.
“If the case of the coelacanth illustrates anything, it shows how difficult it is to draw conclusions about the overall biology of organisms from their skeletal remains alone. Because the soft biology of extinct groups can never be known with any certainty, then obviously the status of even the most convincing intermediates is bound to be insecure.” – Michael Denton
Quito, Ecuador is a city of paradoxes. Its beautiful mountains are populated by an arid landscape that oddly, has many tropical trees and fruits. Set right on the equator, the people in Quito will wear sweaters in July when it is 60 degrees. Every house, building, church, and hotel is barricaded by tall fences with barbed wire, or concrete walls jutted with glass on top. I felt as if the city were screaming “Stay Out!” But then, as we entered the Compassion school, adorable little five to ten year old kids would come running to us and jump up and down asking to be held. They would laugh and giggle and act as if they felt completely safe in the arms of a stranger.
Perhaps this is a paradox; cold walls keeping you out, warm hearts inviting you in. Or perhaps this is a testimony to the change Christ creates in people’s hearts. The church (Iglesia Christiano Carmen Bajo) and the Compassion school are run by devoted Christians who show Christ’s love to the children and their families. We got to partner along-side the Compassion staff and be a part of the impact they have on the children. We helped with Elementary games, crafts, dance and preparing a hot meal – which for some kids is the only meal they may get (Compassion also hosts a preschool in mornings).