Welcome and thanks for participating in day 8 of the ARISE fast and devotional blog. If you haven’t read the previous days, please go back and read them before reading todays as these thoughts will build off of one another.
Day 8: Winds of Change
When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills. – Chinese Proverb
In 1985, a movie was released that quickly became a staple of Americana.
Can you guess what it was? Teen heart throb Michael J. Fox played the lead role. It had three installments in the series. Maybe this will ring a bell…
“Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need roads.”
“Wait a minute Doc, uh, are you telling me you built a time machine … out of a DeLorean?”
Ya, you probably guessed it by now – Back to the Future was iconic in the culture I grew up in. Thanks to Marty McFly we all wanted a hoverboard and a flying car! As a kid, my sister actually convinced me that there would be flying cars by the time I was old enough to drive… Well… I’ve been driving for awhile now, and I’m still waiting for my flying car…
We were ready for the future. Bring it on. Change was good. We were optimistic about the future.God is a God of change. While Jesus is the same “yesterday, today and forever” (Heb 13:8), he is in favor of progress. In fact, God expects us to change as we are being formed into His likeness… We call that sanctification.
We live in a time of great change. Yet, too often, the Church is viewed as people who are anchoring us to the past. In fact, some churches are so stuck in the past that walking into their worship spaces is like walking into the past. I once visited an orthodox church in Israel that was like going back 1,200 years into church history!
Because we deal with unchanging timeless truths, the Church often confuses the sacred with the sentimental. We make worship styles, preaching styles, and dress styles (and many other things) sacred. Some churches fight over their hymns, carpet color, and steeples.
The Gospel is sacred. People are sacred. Ministry styles are sentimental…. They all have a shelf life.
People of the movement are able to handle change because their priorities are aligned with God’s priorities and not with people’s preferences. The early church movement was set in a time when the same religious rituals had been practiced for Millennia. These rituals were part of their DNA. Circumcision, temple sacrifices, religious festivals and following the law was not only their way of worship, it was their way of life. It was sacred to them.
Yet, amazingly, when the Jerusalem Council evaluates the traditions that Gentile believers should absorb in order to follow their Jewish Messiah, they let all their traditions go for the sake of these new converts!
Listen to the final verdict of the council, as given by James the earthly brother of Jesus and leader of the church in Jerusalem. He said “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.” (Acts 15:19)
It was the early church’s willingness to set aside generations of tradition for the sake of new believers that allowed the movement to rapidly expand throughout the world.
They were able to do this because they realized God was doing a new thing. There was a new covenant… and while the old was great, and worth honoring, it was not going to become an anchor to the past.
Look around… Our world is changing rapidly.
If we’re going to recapture the ethos of the early church movement we’ll need to take notes from the Jerusalem council. We must be willing to let go of our sentimental practices in order to love those who are far from God into the Kingdom.
Styles and traditions are sentimental. Religious institutions fight over them. We don’t need to fight over those… they don’t matter much to God.
People are sacred. We need to fight for them… they matter so much to God that He would give His Son’s life for them.
People within the movement of Christianity fight for the heart of God… and in the center of the heart of God has always been lost people.
JOIN THE MOVEMENT by setting aside your traditions and making it easy for the lost to come to Christ.
Esse Quam Videri,
Meditate and reflect on this verse and questions:
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9
1.Why do you think so many churches hold so tightly to sentimental things? What are some common sentimental things that get mistaken for sacred things?
2. What do you think God thinks about these sentimental practices?
3. If God is not willing that any should perish, then we shouldn’t be either. How can we not make it difficult for those turning to God?
– Pray that God gives a special grace to the spiritually mature to bend for the benefit of the new believer.
– Pray that our church is a place that the lost find hope and healing through a relationship with Jesus.
– Pray that God sends a revival of salvation that “awakens dry bones” across the Brandon area through our church.
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