Perhaps the greatest malady in the Church today is converts to Christ who are not disciples of Christ – a clear contradiction in terms.
Richard J. Foster
It happened on a week night. I was attending Vacation Bible School at my church. I grew up in the church, following in my grandfather’s footsteps. I was, however, “playing” church at the time. You know what I mean? I was going through the motions of attending church, arriving in time for the Sunday message, placing a few coins in the offering plate and sneaking out when the “doors of the church” were open. I took it literally. While the minister was inviting others to Christ, I was on the way out the door – a football game was calling.
I didn’t know that I didn’t know better at the time. Hindsight has helped in that regard. Maybe you have been there too: a point in time where something significant had to happen before you realized you didn’t have a clue.
And then it happened – a change, a transformation occurred while sitting in a VBS class one summer evening. God talked directly to me through the teacher that evening. I don’t remember the message, but I do remember thinking: Why is he talking about me like that? He was and still is a friend. Why would he say these things about me? Of course, he didn’t use my name, but God directed the message directly to me. The Holy Spirit stepped all over my toes. I felt like the spotlight was on me for everyone to see. I was not doing what was required of me as an officer and member of the church. Something needed to change and it did, that night. I was transformed. My heart was engaged.
A recent devotional reading highlights – I think – why and how the change occurred. Jonathan Edwards (Engagement of the Heart) writes: “The nature of human beings is to be inactive unless influenced by some affection: love or hatred, desire, hope, fear, etc. These affections are the “spring of action,” the things that set us moving in our lives that move us to engage in activities.”
As I continued reading, these points stood out:
– Nothing is more apparent than this: our religion takes root within us only as deep as our affections attract it.
– The reason is this: they (we) are not affected with what they (we) hear.
– . . . no one is ever changed, either by doctrine, by hearing the word, or by the preaching or teaching of another, unless the affections are moved by these things.
-In a word, there is never any great achievement by the things of religion without a heart deeply affected by those things.(italics mine)
Looking back to the summer night long ago, my heart was deeply affected. I was moved. The following Sunday I was in Sunday school. Since then, I see differently. My vision (perspective) changes as I grow, develop, and am exposed to and challenged by people who think about such things – challenging the status quo.
I like this passage written by C.S. Lewis: Christ says. Give me All. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You.
Now, that requires a transformation. So, how does the Church rearrange its affairs to bring it about?
Consider this: How is the Church “affecting” your heart?