I heard recently, in a conversation with a great man of God, a very strong and shocking statement come out of his mouth: “The Church is in an awful condition.”
To many people, the church is nothing more than a series of meeting to attend. Nothing is expected, and usually nothing happens. How many people there are in the church who don’t even believe in Christianity, much less believe in the living Lord Jesus Christ! And they surely don’t see the validity of basing their life-style[s] on the demands of the Word of God.
I am told there is a joke making the rounds in Moscow that goes like this: “What is philosophy?” Searching in a dark room for a black bed. “What is Marxism?” Searching in a dark room for a black bed that isn’t there. “What is Marxism-Leninism?” Searching in a dark room for a black bed that isn’t there and shouting, “I’ve found it!”
They are saying, “We don’t believe all this business about the theories of Communism, but we’ll live out our pretense and stay out of trouble with the authorities.” Maybe that’s the way it is with a lot of so-called Christians. And if it is, then the church IS in real trouble. But there are some other things that I want to bring up in this letter, which I think are so very pertinent to the weakness of the church. God’s ultimate purpose for the church is that she is to be His instrument for the establishment of the Kingdom of Heaven on this earth.
“His intent was that now, THROUGH THE CHURCH, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to His eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ephesians 3:10, emphasis mine). . . . And just going to meetings will not accomplish nor fulfill that call of God to the church.
There is such a diversity of opinions as to just what and how does the church go about being what the Lord wants of it. What about all those denominations? Or what about the extremes within each of the denominations: Fundies vs. Libs, etc.? Where do they find that in the Bible, or isn’t the Bible the place to go to find out what the church should be? And what about all those charismatic fellowships without any structured leadership? Oh, yes. And is a house-church a church?
[This] brings to mind another question, maybe at the other extreme: Can a church be too spiritual? Just the other night in a house group, a young man [who was] stretched out on the floor, raised himself up on his elbows and asked, “Can a person or a church pray too much? I heard that complaint against a group who call themselves a church”. Yes, I think we can pray too much. We should be getting some answers to our prayers, and when we do, we need to get busy doing what the answer told us to do. If we just keep on praying after we have received the answer, we are praying too much. Yes, we can be too spiritual, [as well]. Jesus said, “Unless you turn and become as a little child, you cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven”.
There are quite a few things we must change to get down to the reality of life as God sees it for us. There is a relationship for us between earth and heaven, between God and us, but that life must synchronize with the life we live with each other here in the world. Let’s take a look at some of these and let me share with you what I believe we are being called of God to do.
From Jay Fesperman’s “Letters of Exhortation”, Volume 5, No.3, May 1985.