The church is comprised of individuals, and the state of the church reflects the spiritual state of the individuals within this community.
If then, the church is you and I, are we not responsible for the state of the church? If therefore there is any need for change must it not come through you and me? By the same token are we not also called to be guardians of the church – we the ordinary Christians?
As D. L. Moody wrote:
“If this world is going to be reached, I am convinced that it must be done by men and women of average talent.”
D. L. Moody certainly was such a man. He applied for church membership but was rejected. One church officer told him, “Young man, you can serve God better by keeping still.” (Nice guy).
Alexander Whyte, agreeing with Moody, said something along the lines of, “God has determined that the church will grow by the work of simple people with simple methods.” The Hoi polloi.
We are certainly glad Moody didn’t take the church officer’s advice, which should encourage us to disregard such advice by well–meaning people.
Of course both Moody and Whyte echo the words of Paul to the Corinthian church in 1 Cor. 1:26, “For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble;”
Sure there are gifted people as we read In Exodus 35:30-34, but they were thus by the power of the Holy Spirit for a particular task or ministry.
“Then Moses said to the Israelites, ‘See, the Lord has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills.’”
Admittedly the true saints will always be few in number, but as Jesus reminds us, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Not only are we few, but as far as the world is concerned – insignificant.
But who cares about the opinion of the world? As Tertullian said, “What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?”
Whatever God asks us, the not-specially-gifted, to do is simple so that the least of the least of the saints can do it, and that is PRAY!
“…Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.”
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven…”
2 Chronicles 7:14
We need to return to being “prayer-closet-people”. Surely there are many among us who hunger and thirst for righteousness who, like the Psalmist, cry out, “As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” Psalm 42:1
But for most Christians this seems too simple; we do not believe in the power of prayer! We want a “Method Driven Church”, methods to attract crowds.
Paul’s lament in Galatians 3:3 is mine: “Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?” Are we deaf to the Word of God that he spoke to Zerubbabel, “’Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.” Zechariah 4:6. Haven’t we grasped Judges 6:34? “So the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon; and he blew a trumpet, and the Abiezrites were called together to follow him.”
I am convinced that the work of the church, its growth and its protection from heresy must be done by men and women of average talent, driven not by a methodology but by sound theology – a theology that proudly proclaims, “’Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.” Zechariah 4:6.
I have found on the mission field that we, simple people by the simple method of loving and caring and often by desperate prayer, can find for ourselves, and thereby for Christ, a place in the hearts of people. I don’t love people so that they become disciples of Jesus Christ, but I want them to become disciples of Jesus Christ because I love them.
I want to echo in my life that which was said of Jesus: “You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.” Acts 10:38
I know it is said, “Let others praise you”, but it is sometimes nice to do it ourselves; so let me tell this: The other day three of the young fellows who cook for Bapu and me were sitting in my room. After a lot of chewing the rag one commented in all sincerity, “Bhaisahib, you are like God to us (meaning most of our kids).” It was not that he considered me God, but that he perceived God’s care and love demonstrated through what I did for them –through a simple ordinary man.