by Heather Murdock
The early church had no political or social clout, yet they changed the course of human history forever. They raised the Church by living fearlessly for Christ in total dependence on Him, empowered by the Holy Spirit. They prayed and obeyed. They confronted hard issues with truth and love and planted churches with a single-minded focus to multiply the Kingdom of God. They were unpopular, unorthodox and, at times, underestimated.
The early Christians didn’t rely on a political party, a president or a policy. They didn’t fight for freedoms granted by man, but instead feasted at the freedom table set for them in the presence of their enemies by Jesus Himself. They lived free, even when bound in chains. They didn’t put their safety before the cause of Christ. They were all in. They had nothing to lose and everything to gain. They truly lived out the words of Jesus, “Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it” (Luke 17:33 New International Version).
American church culture has shifted over time. We have become very comfortable with our life, our stuff, our traditions. We’ve become anesthetized to our own desperate need for a Savior. Desperation feeds hunger. Hunger is the soil of revival. But desperation doesn’t make a clever marketing brand. A polished product is our goal. Our image is our focus. We’re living such a safe, protected and public life that we scarcely have need for Jesus.
But God is shaking things up. We will see what remains can’t be shaken. As our systems shake and what’s known becomes unknown, we will discover our need of God. Things aren’t falling apart, they are coming together. God is shaking our idols, our obsessions and addictions, so that we let go and grab a hold of the One that will never be shaken, our One True God.
But I see fear in our midst. As created things shake and crumble, we clamor to hold on. Fear drives anger and division as we turn on one another. The devil delights in confusion and chaos. We are not called to run in fear, but to persevere in trial. We are not called to scatter, but to gather together as God’s chosen people, to rise up as influencers of the world with the power of the Gospel. We are receiving a Kingdom which can not and will not be shaken.
Anger, hostility, fear and bitterness do not become the Bride of Christ. She is beautiful, brilliant and bold in her gown as she waits for her Bridegroom. He is preparing her for the crowing moment, the moment of truth when they finally become truly one.
Church, we are not silenced, but surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who testify to the absolute faithfulness of God. Instead of shrinking back in condemnation of the world, let us rise up together in faith, convicted by our love for the world. Jesus said He didn’t come to judge the world, but to save the world through His work on the cross. How will the world know His love if not for our love for the world He came to save?
Let us love the last and least of these, as Jesus declares they will be first. Those once called the margins are becoming mainstream. It’s a shift. As we align ourselves with Heaven in this transition, let us not let hate spew from our mouths as we encounter opposition, but let us pour out love like a river, like a saving salve over a wounded soul.
Let us fight harder for love than we do for our rights. Jesus laid down His rights. He made Himself low, so we may rise with Him in victory. Jesus demonstrated that divine power, like a flow of water, pools in the lowest place. In humility we will bow down. In power, we will love, serve and lead people to the cross of Christ.
We are not silenced, but surrounded. “Therefore, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV).