David Hino, September 26, 2014
Jesus’ final message to his disciples before he left the earth is that “I pray for them (the church). I’m not praying for the world but for those you gave me, because they are yours.” (John 17:9) I believe Jesus was saying, the problem is not the culture in the world, rather the problem is the culture in the church.
Jesus taught that people would believe in God if they saw unity in the church. So the problem is not the world, but the disunity in the church. The light of the world (the church) is simply too dim for the world to see.
Here are eight observations and eight declarations for the church today. I write these words with a humbled heart and with an openness to counsel. I love the church. I am part of the church. I speak to bring revelation and light to the church.
OBSERVATION #1 — The Church is too Noisy.
We are living in a world of headphones, televisions in restaurants, and video commercials when we pump gas. Simply put, we are living in too much noise. Our level of stimulation both visual and audio has left us with the inability to sit in silence or enjoy solitude. The noise in the church is no different than the noise in the world. Instead of people finding the reality of God, they only find noise.
Believers need to rediscover silence and solitude. Believers need to rediscover the voice of God speaking in His still small voice. God wants to speak but are we listening?
We are called to be a Church where God can speak and we listen.
God drove Moses into solitude to hear His voice and later Moses led a nation. Jesus sought solitude without outside distractions to hear the Father so he could minister to the masses. Exodus 3; 34; Psalm 46:10; Luke 5:16
OBSERVATION #2 — The Church is too Self-Centered.
The worship service has become more about meeting our needs rather bringing pleasure to God. Music must conform to our tastes and style. Sermons have to excite us more than transform us. If the Holy Spirit showed up in our churches, would He feel at home?
We are called to be the Church where God leads and we follow.
God calls for sacrificial worship. Romans 12:1 says, “present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” Sacrificial worship means that we move out of ourcomfort zones and break out of the box of tradition and formulas. Sacrificial worship means God is the center and we lay down our personal agendas. John 12:1-10
OBSERVATION #3 — The Church is too Soft.
In a world of instant gratification, the church has lost the ability to learn godly patience, long suffering, and understand God’s timing. Christians are dying and suffering for their faith all over the world but the church in America seems to live in a protected cocoon. The church in America has become soft and is not prepared for persecution.
We are called to be Warriors filled with his patience and character.
God’s pattern is to put His people on a 400-year, 40-year, or 40-day waiting plan. God’s pattern was to allow pagan nations to attack His people. God’s plan is to teach the church patience and long suffering. The church that is soft can no longer be an effective warrior. 2 Peter 3:8-9a; Genesis 21:1-7; Genesis 15:13; Exodus 12:41
“Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring. All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right…” (2 Thessalonians 1:4-5)
OBSERVATION #4 — The Church is too Starstruck.
Some pastors and worship singers have become the stars at church. We have forgotten that the real stars are the ushers, the intercessor nobody knows or the mother giving food to a needy neighbor. We have become too focused on people’s roles rather than who they are. Roles and giftings were never God’s criteria for judging spiritual growth.
We are called to be Servants to others.
God sees the heart and not the role. “God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (I Samuel 16:9) God has called the church to become servants, not stars. Everyone is to be honored. Philippians 2; John 13:12-17; I Corinthians 12:12-31.
OBSERVATION #5 — The Church is too Independent.
In the church, the spirit of rebellion often is disguised as the spirit of independence. We want to protect and defend our version of “the truth”, thereby creating more walls between believers. Thousands of denominations are created as a direct result of division within the church. Sadly, when disunity is the result, the “truth” of our belief becomes even more false.
We are called to Unity so His Presence can dwell.
Truth is found when the body of Christ is in unity. God is calling the church back to dependence upon Him and interdependence with others. God’s presence is manifested when unity is displayed in the church. “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20)
Psalm 133:1; John 17:20-26; Acts 2:1-4
OBSERVATION #6 — The Church is too SUPERFICIAL.
Personal opinion has taken the place of transparency. We no longer share our hearts or feelings but our opinions. Instead of seeing the “fears” in our lives, we point out the “fears” in others. We fail to understand that repentance is a transformational process that takes years.
We are called to be in Process and live in Biblical Transparency.
Biblical transparency is when we are not afraid of confession and live in continual repentance. And until we “first take the log out of own eyes,” we will never see the world clearly. Matt. 7:3-5; 26:38-39
OBSERVATION #7 — The Church has lost its first love.
The church is so focused on vision statements, tasks, and numerical growth that like the church in Ephesus, “you have left your first love.” (Rev. 2:4) The focus of church growth can too easily create strategies that manipulate people and uses the name of God for the church’s purposes. The church has become a business without a soul.
We are called into a Love Relationship.
Are we in love with God more today than we were last year? If not, why not? Luke 10:38-42; John 3:16; 8:42-43; 13:1; 13:34-35; 15:12-4, 7
OBSERVATION #8 — The Church is too Judgmental.
Last year, three million people left the American church and will join many other millions who have been hurt by the judgmental nature of the church. The church believes it has freedom to judge the world, the government, and other churches. The church which has lost its first love, has lost the ability to judge.
The Holy Spirit says He is the one to bring conviction, so why does the church believe they are the Holy Spirit? Maybe the church really does not know the Holy Spirit, for when the church speaks harshly, it grieves the Holy Spirit. John 16:8; Ephesians 4:29-32
We are called to Love.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16-17)
There was a time when the church was the light in the world. Today, the church has lost much influence and authority. The problem is not in the world. The problem is in the church. A unified church allows His glory to come resulting in people being drawn to the church because they see the presence of God.
Jesus continues the prayer for the church in John 17:20-23, in which he promises that when unity comes to the church, His presence will be manifested and the world will see God and believe.
John 17:20-23, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”