“The world needs the Church, not to make it feel better, not even to make it safer or more secure. No, the world actually needs the Church to help it understand who it is and what its identity is before the Lord Jesus Christ.”
The words above are my paraphrase of a comment that Stanley Hauerwas makes in his book Resident Aliens. I confess that I really love the truth that is resonating through his words, and I think I love these words because I have sat amongst so many congregations that have focussed on becoming so ‘seeker-friendly’ and so ‘contemporary’ that their religion has pretty much lost all its teeth. No wonder visitors come, spent a couple of weeks within the community and then choose to go elsewhere. There simply is no discernable power within the community. The more I think on it, the more I realise that missional communities need to be in the community, but we also need to be declaring the gospel truth with conviction and with absolute honesty.
There really is no other way to win the world for Christ. If we want people to believe the message of Jesus we need to be telling them about Jesus and demonstrating what life in God actually looks like. And, the world really will thank you for being that serious with them.
Two Passages Of God’s Word To Share With You…
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
1 Peter 2:9-10
Just soak yourself in those words for a few minutes, let them resonate with your heart. Dare to believe that you are part of a royal priesthood. Dare to believe that you have been given this most noble of roles. Don’t rush on, you have said that you have believed these words many times, but now let your heart catch up – you really are a royal priest.
Peter Parker’s uncle once cautioned him that with great power comes great responsibility. If you are a follower of Christ then you have been elected for a purpose.
None of us are royal priests simply by name. We are royal priests in order to stand before God on behalf of the world, but also to minister to the world and help them to truly understand their responsibility to the Lord Jesus Christ. No wonder Jesus had to send His Holy Spirit to dwell in us and empower us.
Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
Over the past eighteen months the Holy Spirit revealed to me that I needed to do some heavy duty forgiving. Forgiving others and forgiving myself. The thing was that although I had been a Christian for so many years, I had not realised what being a royal priest and being empowered by the Holy Spirit actually meant in reality.
So having worked through the various scenes in my life I made some very intentional decisions to forgive others and to forgive myself. The most amazing part of this journey, for me, was to discover that whenever I made the decision to forgive a wrong done to me that person (whether they knew it or not) was totally and eternally forgiven of that wrong. I would and could never bring that incident up again and neither will Jesus. As a royal priest, I stand before Jesus and declare that I have forgiven all, and been forgiven all by the blood of Jesus and under the power and influence of the Holy Spirit. This is the gospel of Jesus Christ, it is all about restoration, renewal and redemption. The love of God, through Jesus, flows into my entire being and from there it flows out toward every member of the community. They either choose to receive this healing river or they reject it, but whatever their choice we remain God’s channel for the gospel.
I will endeavour to always reach out to everyone that the Lord places in my path, to be a source of healing and forgiveness, to declare the truth without fear and to be a waymark for everyman to the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
This is why the world needs you and me. Go in peace and spread the Word.
This really is the year of the Lord’s favour.