Confronting God or Culture?

I recently experienced a prayer meeting in which individuals in a very emotionally charged environment sought to petition God on behalf of their church and community.

Even though I have participated, even encouraged events such as these for some time now, this one took me as different.  The outcomes were the same, emotionally aroused individuals with deeper commitments to God, as well as more robust personal esteem in Christ…passing deeper into some perceived spiritual capacity to impact others.

All of the above seems virtuous and might even inspire participants to pursue or enlighten others whom they feel have had fewer of these heightened moments with God?  Yet, there I sat, totally incapable of participating in that forum though this means of prayer was quite familiar to me.  I found myself unable to even relate to those around me, in lifestyle or intent.  I wrestled with the possibilities of my being overly judgmental and probably was at moments; yet my reasoning, my rational, was filtered through at least my awareness of the character of God.

Are we still using old world, old treatment metaphors to motivate us to pray when true prayer has moved far beyond petitioning God for things He already desires; as opposed to becoming the people of God He needs us to be in order to accomplish those things desired by Him?  This type of prayer meeting may be necessary for the sake of the petitioners, but are the outcomes truly there to justify the means or could that time be better spent in caring for the destitute?  Maybe I am sounding more like Judas or the one who questioned the woman who poured out her best spikenard on Jesus?

Is the righteousness of Christ already within us, yet we keep attempting to become more righteous yet, before we ever dare the daily demonstration of the love of Christ, beyond simply being nice to our neighbors and co-workers?   Sacrificial love is the hallmark of Christianity and is the one thing that is a convincer of our faith!  Are we being distracted by a sense of need to constantly repent versus stepping headlong into the sinfulness of our culture and trusting that the righteousness of Christ to be sufficient? 

Do we not trust that the God who better loves this culture than we would then partner with us, even though it might mean suffering or even personal loss of resources, life or limb?   Is it our sense of sinfulness or our fear of loss that causes us to live less effectively and yet return so often to our sanctuaries for prayer, in hopes of changing though our ineffectiveness is now grossly before us in the statistics of the spiritual and financial decline now upon our nation?  Is God punishing our nation or have we as a church simply failed at our mission of salt and light…God and sinners now getting the blame?

Not that these prayer meetings are wrong, but what if each generation in attempting to do the same things done before them, only better, yet somehow the very means developed for the delivery of the gospel has evolved out of wrong motives…building and branding churches rather than making disciples?  Are we so blind that when we hear commentary such as this we simply compare ourselves with others (versus the Christ), and share the same falsehood of other churches, that we are somehow different, though we mean well?

Can such prayer alone deliver us or should our prayer, even our worship be measured ruthlessly against our mission results?  Why is it we hold our businesses to a higher standard than our churches…I contend we love our work more than the work of God and thus guard its outcomes…our treasures.   Are our religious practices accomplishing our mandate or are we simply a foolish and fearful people who confront God in forceful prayer but seldom confront culture in true love regardless of our potential for personal loss?

5 thoughts on “Confronting God or Culture?

  1. I have read your latest post- twice. I can hear you loud and clear, many valid points to chew on for a few days. In all respect, and this is not a shot at what you have just written, is there any value at all, not for the participant, in what happened at that prayer meeting? Any spiritual warfare efficacy? Anything achieved that we can say, “That was worthwhile?”

    It’s an honest question, not a stab or rhetorical question.

  2. Did God call us to spiritual warfare? Is that not His territory? What about Zechariah’s statement, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan.” Do I need to, or is that just some religoius exercise that makes me feel as if as if I manned up to the enemy?

    Are we as American Christians no more than the sons of Sceva? I question our ability to really understand spiritual warfare when I look at our lives contrasted with those who really suffer; we represent 5% of world population and yet use 95% of its resources for our pleasure. Can we really expect to have perspective.

    Were we taking ground from the enemy during that gathering or simply wrestling through our own sins and life struggles? Should we not rather accept that sinlessness is not going to happen, but also that the righteousness of Christ through grace is our wonderful gift? We could surely then take ground from the enemy upon launching out with resources available becoming Christ to our city. I beleive that is the intent of those who came to pray, or I would not be there!

    Howver, we take ground from the enemy when we step into real life decisions that change culture, not repeatedly crying out to God to change us, afterwhich we do little to manifest that change in real work/life situations.

    The good news is that we cannot for long ask God to change us with no intent to change our culture, for prayer will soon turn on us, maybe manifesting in a failed economy and corrupt leadership? Leadership lost to unethical behavior and an economy of capitalism gone wild! That’s what people do apart from salt and light, but that is also often necessary before people really turn to God and become that light?

    So yes, if we continue to pray, change will come to us and that will be good.

    Yet, while we pray, Rome burns! So do we need more prayer or more demonstration of what we know in the places where we see need?

    Did we change the Kingdom during that one prayer event, depends on how many attending now step beyond their own needs and into true servant leadership within the community, apart from the sanctuary or the program based events it offers? Otherwise, it was an emotionally rewarding moment for people of similar beleifs, who felt they were doing God a favor!

    Neither am I trying to hurt or harm, just to ask the hard questons given the minimal impact per church resources reflected in the current state of our nation?

  3. We keep petitioning God for what He already desires because we do not grasp the fullness of what Jesus Christ has already done for us. We ask for what we already have available, yet don’t realize it is ours for the taking, so that we can stand in His authority and decree and declare His Word – then watch it come to pass. We stay focused on our supposed lack, which is sin consciousness, rather than doing what the Bible repeatedly makes clear – fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, which is righteousness consciousness.

    On another point, I have maintained for a long time that great spiritual warfare occurs when we live out the Word; yet, I also believe the Holy Spirit leads us into an intense warfare type of prayer at times, as well. I have also been in prayer gatherings – and been right in the middle of it, too – when we did much out of emotion that was being called spiritual warfare. No, there were no great answers from those times.

    But God! In His mercy towards us, He continues to give us the grace to live in Him and His righteousness. He continues to lead us to take steps of faith in action wherever we are, leading by example both those who do not yet know Him, and those who need to know more of Him. He still loves unconditionally those who are, might I say, content to remain where they have been for years in prayer – even if they never change.

    When we, ourselves, begin to grasp His grace and His righteousness, then we will begin to have greater impact on the very ones we have tried so hard to convince – while judging in the process.

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