Whether you are still plugging away, hoping beyond hope that somehow it will get better, or you have stopped going altogether...know this: you are not alone. The fact that you are reading this is proof that He is wooing you back to Himself. You're tired of going there for what feels like no good reason. You're "burdened by the meaninglessness of so much that is traditionally a part of our churches", and you no longer even "come away with a warm feeling"...just busy emptiness.
I know. Me, too. Me. Too.
We say that our faith must be lived- that Christ invades us to transform every aspect of daily life. Yet we teach this faith in formalized classes or sermons far out of a life context... We say that every believer is a priest, gifted and responsible for building up others in the Body of Christ. And we bring adults to church, set them down and tell them to listen to a teacher or to the pastor. They have exercised no ministry, held no responsibility but to be quiet and orderly, and have helped no one by their presence...
The Emperor doesn't have on any clothes, and it is about time somebody said so. Much time is spent in this lesson assessing exactly how far off the mark modern Christianity is today, but not for the sake of pointing it out alone. This isn't church-bashing, this is taking stock. Until we individually realize, deep down, the state of affairs in the church, and in our own hearts and lives, we are impotent to make any changes more lasting than Band-Aids. How long can we stand to "merely go through the motions of the ministry, having a form of godliness but no power"? See the problems. Notice the lack of fruit from all the effort. Grieve over the emptiness. It is a step not to be skipped over.
You think you're pleasing God for all your activity and its results, yet beneath the programs and entertainment lies an emptiness that few will admit. Institutionalism deceives you into feeling good about yourself even after your responsiveness to God has ceased.
Once we have a clear vision of our state of affairs, only then can we move on to the next step. Making a decision. We can either continue to "effect repairs", adding Band-Aids on top of Band-Aids both personally and corporately, or we can accept the challenge of restoring the true biblical foundations of the early Church.
Going once again to the model of relational priorities, we know that the depth of our personal relationship with our Father and Jesus is of utmost importance if the Holy Spirit is to guide us into the truth God wants us to live by. We need to remember our first love...whom we love because He first loved us...and who saved us while we were wretched sinners.
Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works... Revelation 2:4-5a
I was so encouraged by the closing statements in this lesson. It is my prayer that this will be the fruit of this study: that His children will search and discover truth through His Word alone, and not the traditions of men.
If you understand that Jesus is the only Head and Builder of His Church, you need to search the Bible. Discover that which He and the apostles presented through the Hebraic framework in which it was initially addressed. Those who are willing to do this can work together in agreement with the Holy Spirit and in our time see a true expression of the Church of Jesus Christ. Will it be popular? Probably not. Will it be powerful? Yes, exceedingly so!
Father, by your Holy Spirit, please help us to see. We need You to breathe life into our tired souls, and lead us through your Word into a deeper, truer relationship with You...for Your glory alone.
Here is the link for Lesson Three.
We'll wait to hear from you. However, know that this is a lot to think and pray through. I do not want us to go through this study too quickly. If you're feeling that we should slow down, or pause for a day or two, before moving on, let me know in the comments. I do not want to rush a move of the Spirit...and Father is in charge of the timing.