BRING ME BACK TO THE OLD TIMES
I am afraid for the Church today. We have become too sophisticated and classy. We pamper the believer like a health spa dishing out every appeasing desire they need. People are comfortable and at ease in our churches today. We don’t get them uppity with teachings on repentance and getting their life straight. We don’t ever confront them about their taxes not paid or the latest bribe given to get some work done. We let them wallow in their sick attitudes with one another, secretly speaking ill about others…as long as we see them on Sundays. In fact, at times, we even often forget to preach about Jesus!
I became a real Christian in the early 70s. We wore beads, grew our hair long, had psychedelic high collared shirts with ‘drainpipe’ trousers and narrow belts, and would write ‘Jesus is my Lord’ boldly behind our jackets. Choruses were popular at that time. We stood on street corners and sang songs about Jesus and His Kingdom, giving out tracts, Bibles and praying for people to repent and turn to Jesus. I remember clearly, how we opened our Bibles and preached, and often read verses aloud to people who would stand and listen.
More and more young people joined us. This ‘spiritual tsunami’ was happening all over the world. Of course, we had no internet then. Ralph Carmichael, B. J. Thomas, Evie, Bob Dylan and the Imperials thrilled us as music somehow filtered into the church at that time. We saw hundreds get saved. Social misfits, drug addicts and then the average guys – all who had discovered Jesus, and found Him more exciting than what the traditional church could give us.
If you ask me why I am uncomfortable in many church services, or not satisfied with what I see among churchgoers…this is what I will say. And I have basically two things to share from my heart.
Firstly, our passion was Jesus. We focused on Him all the time. Everything we did, whether it was sharing our hearts, visiting the sick, worship on the street or in the church, everything was about Jesus! I really long for those days. Life was simple. Mobile phones and Coffee joints did not crowd our lives those days. Our whole life was intertwined with Jesus. Birthday parties and festivals became a great time to testify, sing and lead the unbeliever to the Lord. We wept, we cried out, we agonized, and we poured our hearts out at regular all-night prayer meetings. The next morning we were ready for work! I miss those days! I’m not talking about the fashion…I’m talking about the passion!
Sometimes I am shocked at the bickering of how people are not getting along with one another in the church. They talk about the teachings, the prayer meetings, the worship, the music, the sound quality, the leaders and even the teacups! It does not matter much if the bass guitarist is missing or the drummer doesn’t show up for the Sunday service. It doesn’t matter at all if the lady who prophesied made grammatical mistakes in her delivery, or for that matter the man who opened in prayer fumbles with his words. We don’t talk much about Jesus. We have become experts on every Christian topic but simple discipleship. I personally am horrified to learn how many Christians, or let me say, Spirit-filled believers, spend personal time with Jesus daily. I was shocked when one young person, I thought was involved with church confessed…that she spends only half an hour a week with God!
Please, oh! Please let me see some passion for Jesus!
Today, we desire ‘prophetic encounters’ rather than the plain simple ‘word’ that comes from the Lord from someone who we don’t regard as ‘qualified’. We desire manifestations, shakings, hair-raising feelings to know that the ‘anointing’ is upon us. If we will ever use this anointing is another story. We desire to ‘know’ when the end is nigh, we run after the ‘prophet’ holding on to his shirt-tail just to get a prophecy that will satisfy us. We love events, rather than letting people touch the life of Jesus. We love statistics, rather than knowing if the life-changing message of the cross is getting through. We love to boast of how we have grown and how much we have, rather than discipling someone who needs help. We have more emphasis on the song and the way we sing and play, rather than the One we sing about!
Secondly, where oh! Where is the desire to disciple others? We’d like to have them ‘present’ in the Sunday services than spend time with them in prayer and teaching basics. If we say we are good Christians then we must have disciples! And that is why we have Life Groups.
Let me share with you some key thoughts…this is what I read somewhere and then someone sent me a paragraph…Israel had considerable success winning as they entered the Promised Land. However, to effectively conquer the land they needed a new approach from God; they needed to fight in a tribal way. They had fought as one nation in the past, but now the time and season was different. This was a time to conquer and occupy. That meant they needed to break up into tribes and clans.
This truly was planned by God Himself. In India, we are well aware that tribal warfare is quite different in nature and in form. It meant not having the whole nation behind you, just your own people in a small tight team. It meant that the similar success principles and experiences had to be translated into multiple smaller units. Hear this…
After the death of Joshua, the Israelites asked the LORD, “Who will be the first to go up and fight for us against the Canaanites?” The LORD answered, “Judah is to go; I have given the land into their hands.” Judges 1:1-2
Joshua was dead and the leaders had to make sense to how to proceed as they subdued the land as individual tribes. They realized they needed to ask the Lord for leading and guidance, one that they learned from Joshua who in turn learned from Moses.
The succeeding verses tell of the success of Judah. They strategically conquered Bezek, from there they took city after city, first Jerusalem (v.8) then the hill country of the Negev and the Western foothills (v.9). Eventually, they subdued Hebron and Debir. And finally, they would expand to Zephath and the key cities of Gaza, Ashkelon and Ekron.
Small Groups are important. These are multiple smaller units where passion and discipleship come together to grow the believer to become what God intends for him or her. Get yourself into a Life Group or House Group, or whatever you may call it…and start growing.
So…do we need another dose of the ‘passion and discipleship making’ of the 70s? Yes indeed! You may call me old-fashioned; you may call me anything you like! But Lord! Please give me passion for Jesus and the desire to disciple someone you bring across my path.