What gets in the way of a successful church that glorifies our LORD?
The problem, as I have been hinting at for most of my thirty years in ministry, is weak faith and prideful Christians—shallowness, selfishness, and haughtiness are the biggest obstacles to the Church and to the Kingdom because they distract the people we are called to reach and called to care for! Our pride will stagnate the Church, suffocate its growth, and destroy, inside and out. Too many of us are so wrapped up in our own needs, hurts, desires, and wants that we fail to see our Lord or respond to His call. We hide in our pride or become lazy and feeble. Our churches, instead of stables of majestic stallions, are empty stables with dried excrement and old hay; the horses are starved and loose, the saddles are hard and cracked. We have to get our acts together, clean up our messes, and fix our stable; we must repair, oil, and mount our saddles, caring for our horses of faith by feeding and crafting our relationship to Christ.
We need a call out for the radical, cross-cultural steps of trusting and committing to Christ; we must follow through with our Christian faith.
This call to radical discipleship is not simply a matter of overcoming liberal politics or the growing hostility many of us face in our secular community. We do need to do that; more so, we must overcome our own church culture filled with empty trends and prideful leaders, puffed up with empty platitudes and nonsense. We must surrender our will and plans to His Lordship; we must be radical for Christ. We need to give up ourselves, our desires, look away from trends; instead, we must seek to learn and grow in Him, to be the people He called us to be. Only then will we see our society change for the better. It is a matter of serving selflessly and not wondering what the church will give you. It is a matter of being a giver, not a taker; it is a matter of setting aside complaints and boldly go forth to do as Jesus Christ has gifted and called to do.
We can stop our own dysfunction and turn ourselves and our churches around!
All Jesus asks of us is to receive Him and His love so that we can pay it forward to others, to show His love by our displays of love so we might do His will. Jesus’ love is the sap that flows; it is what causes us to know Him and to have His love working in and out of us. It causes us to make Him known to others even more diligently. We were sinners; now, because of His love, we are His people–united in Him, reconciled to God, and filled with the Spirit. This love becomes the process of continued blessings for us and for others. All it takes is our dedication to Christ, so that we might respond by faith, worship, and spiritual formation to carry on His love. Growing in Christ is what the Christian life is all about. It is the life-long process of discipleship and spiritual growth that builds our faith and knowledge in Him, so that we can take hold of His love and produce more, giving it back to Him and unto others. This helps us with our assurance, maturity, character, and spiritual formation.
We become changed, because we have received Christ; we can keep on loving. If this is not so, there is something fundamentally wrong in our Christian operating system; love helps us to have more hope and reassurance of faith.
Why is this radical? Because few do it, and more fight against it, even those who say they are His (Rom. 12; 1 Cor. 1:2; Gal. 5; Heb. 10: 26-39; 12:14; 2 Pet. 1: 5-11).
Because God is our dwelling place, we are dependent on Him for both life and salvation; to think otherwise is foolish. This is a prime fulfillment of a promise of God from the Old Testament, and it refers to those who are already saved. This is a call to synergy to stand for and abide, to be unwavering and sure of the supremacy of Christ that gives and builds our lives and intimacy in Him. The purpose is that we have a binding and effectual relationship with Christ that transcends our comprehension; we have a relationship with God that we do not deserve by means we cannot fully understand. What we have in Christ; He gives totally to us (Ex. 25:8; 29:45; Lev. 26:11-12; Ezek. 37:27-28; 43:9; Psalm 96:10; Isa. 42:9; 48:6; 51:15-16; 65:17-25; 66:22; John 2:21; 6:54-56; 8:31; 14:1-23; 15:1-8; Rom. 8:24-25; 1 Cor. 2:9; 4:5; 15:35-57; Gal. 2:20-21; Eph. 1:3-14; Col. 1:23; 3:18-4-1; Heb. 2:7; 3:6-19; 1 John 2:19-24; Rev. 7:9; 21:1-8; 22:3-5, 12).
Take the Initiative in your Growth in Christ!
Keep in mind this very important point in all that you are and do: Christ takes the initiative in your relationship. He comes to us by first loving us; then, we are free to exercise our free will and are enabled to know and receive Him. If He did not choose us, we would not have the desire, will, or ability to receive Him; this is by His work on the cross. In Jesus’ time, a committed learner would seek out a rabbi to teach him; here, Jesus picks us to learn and, then teach.
Did you know that as growing and mature Christians, we belong exclusively to Christ (Eph. 1:4-11; John 2:23; 14:13)?
God is sovereign but does not violate our right of decision; He first enables us for salvation–something we can’t do by ourselves. In the Hebrews context, joy and servant mean to change our mindsets and focus from self to Christ, realizing the sovereignty of God and that He is in control, even when life may say otherwise! At some point in our spiritual development, we have to comprehend the magnitude of who Christ is and who we are in and to Him.
We have to reach a point and say, I, body and soul, completely and totally belong to Christ as His pupil and His property! He is my LORD and Master, and there is no better place for me to be!
How do I make this work? Go and bear fruit–fruit that will last. “Go” is an aspect of our “Great Commission”; “fruit” is what characterizes our Christian service and points others to Christ. When we indentify ourselves in Christ, we will obey, and we will be effective in loving and strengthening each other for His service–something so few of us actually do! A proper witness to Christ will be identified by the distinction between good and false teaching and/or good versus bad love, Fruit, character, and/or a good or a failing church (Psalm 66:18; Matt. 22:1-14; 25:1-13; 28:19; Acts 1:8; Rom. 1:13; Gal. 5:22-23; Eph. 4:15-16; 1 John 4:1-6; Rev. 1: 2; 2:20; 6:9; 22:9).
What does real Christian growth that grows a church look like?
What this Hebrews chapter 11 tells us–over and over–by one simple phrase is this: by faith! Christian living is about our lives being centered in Christ and trusting Him for our provision and purpose, yet not waiting around, doing nothing. The radical discipleship aspect is for us to mount up and to do it, taking His call and precepts and following, embracing, and exercising them unto ourselves, to others around us, and most of all, back to God so He is glorified. It is being trusting and obeying, so that we are faithful, fruitful, and impacting–being real and authentic with our faith. This should not be difficult or unusual.
Real discipleship is what makes real church growth; it is just the exercise of our faith without concern to circumstances. Real faith calls us to action, not to complacency or foolishness.
Real, effectual faith is our conviction of trust and confidence that we do not merely believe ( for even the demons do that), but that we have assurance beyond doubt. It is the object of our faith that is paramount, and that is Jesus Christ. He is the substance that gives us hope. We do not have blind faith because what we seek and place first is evidenced and supported. As Christians, we do not have fables and myths; we have reality. The evidence is the reality of history, archeology, and personal, life-changing testimonies of countless people, as evidenced in this passage, throughout history, and today; we can be centered in Jesus Christ. Even science points to a Creator who is perfect in character, possessing the fullness all the Omni attributes–Omniscience, Omnipotence, Omnipresence… We can; yes, we can live our lives by faith!
Yes, we can! In addition, God is not only righteousness—He is personal and involved in our lives, and He calls us to be righteous in our thinking and living so we can take His lead and live a life that is all about trusting and obeying God. This does not mean perfection; it means we strive to do our best for His glory. Yes, we can; with our eyes and ears, we can see and feel His presence just as we can see what the wind does even when we do not see the wind itself. God leaves a visible wake that ripples through all times and peoples, which we can ride on by faith for our betterment and His glory. What He has for us is better than what we think we want (Psalm 119:142119:151; John 6:64 ; 7:5; Rom. 1:16-17; 5:1-11; 8; 10: 14-17; Gal. 3:1-14; Eph. 2:8-9; 2 Timothy 1:5 ; 2:18; James 2:14-26; 2 Pet. 1:16; Jude 3).
A real Christian, by definition, is a follower; a Disciple is learner of Christ. If we truly love, obey, follow, and learn from our Lord and Savior, we are not radical; we are simply doing as we are called and empowered to do.
Yes, we live in a world that hates and fights against us. As Christians, we are living behind enemy lines in where we live and work, but it should not be so in our own faith community. However, to make matters worse, the Church has become hostile, for the most part, to real effectual faith, and the practice of love and fruit is rare; to be a real Christian is to be radical, and to make other real Christians, we must embrace radical discipleship! Change your mindsets and actions as to how you will follow, with confidence, to comply with Christ, so that the change is transmitted to your church and to your neighbors and world. Be the change; be the example of extreme, radical discipleship to yourself, to your church, and to your community–all to glorify our Lord!
With what shall I come before the LORD and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:6-10
© R.J. Krejcir