One of my continual disappointments as I meet so many professing “believers,” is their complete oblivion to New Covenant life, living, and reality. Christians by the score persistently seek various external rituals, experiences, and stimuli to take their faith to some supposed “higher level” or deeper spirituality. Apparently, the Indwelling Holy Spirit, being united with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, sharing His glory (John 17:21-23) and being seated with Him in the heavenlies, and giving our lives for our neighbors and the world, etc. are not enough for Western Christians. No wonder popular culture western evangelicalism is insipid, spiritually impotent, and irrelevant.
The question is not whether or not God can “speak to us,” “bless us,” or “touch us” with various externals. Of course, He can. I can be brought to tears and an encounter with the manifest presence of God by contemplating a tree! That is not the point. The issue is a spiritual yearning for fulfillment that tries to be satisfied outside of Jesus Christ, Him crucified, living in and through us. That can’t be improved upon, and doesn’t need any window dressing. The issue is looking in all the wrong places for some sort of higher spiritual satisfaction, which is a misguided form of spirituality for believers: idolatry-“lite” . . . maybe not so lite, if anti-christ is understood as “instead of Christ.”
My good friend, Stephen W. Hill, from Ontario, Canada (www.harvest-now.org) summed up this matter so concisely with a recent example from his experience, that I wanted him to guest-blog herein:
Recently a friend from the majority world asked me for help to make a trip to Israel. He had sold his motorcycle and pawned his wife’s wedding ring, but was still $1700 short of the $3,000 he needed for the trip. He was going with a group that assured him that “walking where Jesus walked” was an experience that would change his life forever. Really? My response to his request was four fold:
Number one, I will not help you, or anyone else go to Israel for a “holy land tour.”
Secondly, much of the Western Church is based in a consumer mentality with its leadership seeking to provide its members with “good experiences” for them to consume. They package those experiences in spiritual terms, but the context is not the Kingdom of God. The context is the consumer society which functions to provide pleasurable, entertaining programs and events that consumers will pay to experience. Those events may be “worship” in a contemporary style with advanced sound systems, expert musicians, and motivational speaking, “holy land” trips and even (might I say?) short term mission adventure tours.
Thirdly, we are not Moslems with their Mecca, Catholics with St. Peters in Rome, Mormons with their temple in Utah, Hindus with the Ganges River, or Jews with their wailing wall. We are followers of Jesus who celebrate that the Triune God by the Holy Spirit indwells each one of us and makes us His temple. It is a characteristic of all religions that the presence of god is associated with a place where access to the presence can be controlled for money by a professional priesthood. The first martyr of the Kingdom of God was killed for declaring that “God no longer dwells in temples made with hands.” With that declaration the temple priests saw their positions of power and privilege made redundant and reacted murderously. We do not go to any physical place to find God but declare that He reveals Himself to all men by the Holy Spirit and thus access to His presence cannot be purchased or controlled.
And finally, if you wish to walk where Jesus walked, simply continue what you are doing in serving the least and the last. Jesus walked among the broken, the outcasts, the prostitutes, and lepers. We serve this same Jesus, who declared that whatever we have done unto the least, we have done unto Him. This is not about you going to Israel [or anywhere for that matter] and having a life changing experience. Your life has already changed in the only way that really matters: you have been taken from the Kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of His love. This is about you changing the lives of the people around you. You are doing that. Keep walking with Jesus where you are. The Kingdom context is simple and often costly obedience for the benefit of others.
This friend agreed with my counsel, bought back his motorcycle, redeemed his wife’s wedding band, and continues to walk where Jesus walked.
It is a privilege to walk with such a brother.
Reprinted with permission from the author.
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