This isn’t it. At all.
The church you go to? Isn’t it.
That conference you attended? Isn’t it.
That small group you’re part of? Isn’t it.
That house church in china? Even that isn’t it.
Not even the book of Acts is it.
The world has yet to see the rousing majesty and thunderous power of the church God had in mind. How rare it must be for God to fully, without reservation, declare to the angels flanking his glorious throne, “Now THAT’S what I’m talking about.”
Oh, we have our moments. I’m not trying to take that away. I’m just saying that by and large, Christians (me included) are not a whiff or a shadow of the divine instruments God knows we can be. Lives are not being changed like he knows they can be changed. We’re not growing like we ought to grow, not praying like we ought to pray, not sharing his resurrection power with dead people like he dreams of us doing.
I’m still reading William Law’s “The Power of the Spirit,” and so far it’s been like being stripped naked while God lays into me with stroke after merciful stroke of his double-edged sword, holding up unforgiving mirrors that have caught my likeness so I can repent and throw myself into the arms of a forgiving Father. It hurts, each swipe going deeper, undragoning me like Eustace in Lewis’ Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
Job cried out, “Even if he slay me, yet I will trust in him.” My heart cries out, “Deeper, my Lord, deeper, until you have gouged out every last vestige of darkness and death in me. Let’s kill my flesh together, crucifying this independent streak, now hissing and thrashing like an unclean spirit in the grip of the Spirit’s searing conviction.
We’ve settled for less… no, that’s not it. We’ve settled for nothing. Nothing at all. A farse, a play acting bit part in a grade-school musical. Honestly, let’s look in the Word together, in the mirror of God’s truth, and ask ourselves if the life we’re living bears even a fleeting resemblance to the power, the glory, the infilling, the incarnational presence that changed the world in the early church. Like, are we even on the same planet? I believe that many so-called Christ followers have never really even tasted the real thing.
Let’s do away with all the stupid excuses… and yes, many are downright stupid. Stupid ideas like, “That was for a different dispensation, a different age.” Really now, deep down, we know that’s the vilest kind of bunk. We just don’t like the way our lives look and want a way to justify our lack of passion and fruit, so we tell ourselves fairy tales about how once the scriptures were completed we didn’t need the Holy Spirit moving in power like they did.
No, no, NONONONONONO! If Jesus needed it, I do. If Paul needed it, me all the more. If Peter, James, John, Mary, the 120, and the whole early church needed a profound work of God’s Spirit to do all the real and heavy lifting, then I, a gnat in the shadow of those giants, need God all the more.
I. Need. God. Desperately. Always. Every minute. Every second. For everything that matters. For everything that doesn’t. And I ache to rid myself of this pharisee skin, this dragon moult, this powerless, deadening thing we’ve had the audacity to call Christianity in the name of making ourselves feel good.
The first work of faith is dependence.
The second work of faith is obedience wrapped in love.
The third work of faith is praise wrapped in worship.
That’s my rant.