So, I wasn’t angry, shocked, saddened or outraged on January 6th. When I heard about the “storming” of the Capitol, I wondered if the elite politicians had finally overplayed their hand. Still, something about it seemed too easy. Like, how could the US Capitol be breached by a bunch of regular citizens? Most of us can’t even storm into COSTCO without a mask, much less the seat of power in the most powerful country in the world. Clearly, evil is at work. There is more to the story. And, the antagonists hate the Church of Jesus Christ.
One thing I have learned in the past four years: DON’T…BELIEVE…THE…MEDIA. We live in a day where the truth is hard to confirm. There are some who benefit financially from keeping people in the dark about a myriad of issues. Sadly, many are deceived, and because of this, good people end up turning against each other. Even among believers, there is controversy and arguing about the election, mask mandates, the events of January 6th, ANTIFA/BLM, abortion, vaccines, homeschooling, LGBTQ, and much, much more. I’ve engaged in conversations about all of the above, and came out winning plenty of arguments, but winning few to Christ.
It is my strong conviction that in the end, the secular-humanist, left-leaning liberal democratic socialists who currently influence this culture will take a more aggressive stand against the church. In fact, if you seek the information, you will see that it has already started and has been going on for years. For holding a biblical worldview, you are being called homophobe, anti-science, racist, sexist, chauvinist, and now, perhaps a terrorist sympathizer. While these things should be true of none of us, the narrative is now set in stone.
How do we engage the issues of our day, and the persecutions of the church beyond our verbal outrage? It should not surprise you that the early church faced the same challenge and in response, they asked for more. I believe that we also ought to ask for more.
And now, Lord, behold their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness (Acts 4:29-31).
In the movie, The Patriot, the character Anne Howard stands in the church and says, “Will you now, when you are needed most, stop at only words? Is that the sort of men you are?” My spirit jumped when I heard those words. Is that the sort of men and women we are? How do we function by design as the church of God?
In these uncertain times, I keep wondering what type of action I must take to respond to the issues of our day. See, I am not a politician or lawyer. So, I don’t always understand the political nuances associated with all the controversies in our nation. I am also not a soldier or armed militia member, so you won’t see me storming Washington DC with guns blazing, demanding one thing or another. I am no medical professional, so I honestly don’t have an answer to COVID-19 except to live a healthy lifestyle, and take supplements that strengthen the immune system. As a pastor, I felt that I had preaching, but it did not feel like that was enough. I strongly believed there had to be more than a sermon and a song. Funny thing is, Anne Howard in The Patriot said the above quote inside a church.
See, as church people , we often stop at words. Whether they are sermons, talks among friends, social media posts, or blogs, we have a tendency to believe that our words are enough. And yes...they are powerful, and often right! But, there is more that God wants out of us. Military victories are not won with insults. They are won when brave, skilled men and women use their abilities to achieve a goal. We are those people, but we must avoid being content with complacent prayer and talk. We are the most spiritually powered people on the face of the earth, but we must not neglect the power.
“and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:4-5 ESV
We have the Spirit and power for a reason — to cause the faith of others to be established, not in our wisdom, but in God’s power. Therefore, we must use the gifts to strengthen the church, and win the world.
When persecution arose, the prayer that arose was for more boldness to preach the Word. (So much for staying safe-at-home, huh?). God’s answer was to shake the place and fill them with the Holy Spirit so they could do healings, signs and wonders – and that’s the part that takes us beyond words. In the coming weeks, we will be diving into the Gifts and Ministries of the Holy Spirit. We will do so with the intention of praying for and trusting God to operate in these gifts. But first, let’s learn what they are. Tonight, we will start in 1 Corinthians 12. As we progress, we will be studying Romans 12, and Ephesians 4, and many other verses that affirm that the gifts of God are not only for today, but they are necessary for the present trouble in our world. Yes, the answer to persecution and crisis was the gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit.