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Essential 100—Read:
Luke 9:1-36

“So they set out and went from village to village, preaching the gospel and healing people everywhere.” ~Luke 9:6

I’ve got to tell you, I am more than a little bothered as of late by the way the American church is doing Christianity! It seems a far cry from what Jesus had in mind. I think we are far more concerned with doing whatever it takes to attract people into the fellowship of believers (some don’t even like to call the spiritual community to which they belong a “church” anymore) than in calling for the radical transformation of their lives, which among other things, requires total surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Just think of how the typical church in America today makes its appeal to the community: You’ll love our music—the band sounds just like Coldplay. Our pastor is great—he’ll remind you of David Letterman, only funnier. We’ve got some great programs, too—your kids will think they’ve died and gone to Disneyland; your teenager may win an iPad—we have a drawing for one every week; and we will help you improve you marriage, make you more successful in business, show you how to make money, and help you to feel really good about yourself…oh, and we’ll treat you to a latte from our Starbucks’ franchise in the lobby.

No kidding, I was sent an advertisement not too long ago for a start up church back east that promoted itself as a church for the really busy. The outstanding feature of their advertisement was the half-hour service—10 minutes of worship, 12 minutes of the word, 3 minutes of application, and 5 minutes of fellowship—no fuss, no muss.

Nothing like rearranging your life around the priorities of the kingdom, wouldn’t you say? Maybe their mission statement could be, “If you’re too busy for Jesus, just come to us—we’ll fix that!”

That is a far cry from the radical plan Jesus gave the disciples for invading enemy occupied territory, sabotaging the dominion of the god of this world, and bringing Planet Earth and its inhabitants back under control of  the rightful Ruler:

Then Jesus called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases. He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. And He said to them, “Take nothing for the journey, neither staffs nor bag nor bread nor money; and do not have two tunics apiece. Whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. And whoever will not receive you, when you go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet as a testimony against them.” So they departed and went through the towns, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere. (Luke 9:1-6)

Building the kingdom is not a matter of entertaining people into your church. The more we do that, by the way, the more the world finds the church irrelevant. Rather, building God’s kingdom is about invading your neighborhood, workplace, school or social circle—“whatever house you enter”—in the power and authority of Jesus Christ, casting out demons, healing diseases, and declaring to those who have been under Satan’s dominion that there is a new Sheriff in town.

Maybe I sound a little grumpy today, but come on, don’t you think it’s time we start depending on the power and authority of Jesus rather than being hip to build the kingdom of God?

“Enemy-occupied territory—that is what this world is.  Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign in sabotage.” ~C.S. Lewis

Reflect and Apply: “Lord, forgive us for entertaining people into the church. Empower and embolden us to call people to the radically transformed life that you offer through the preaching of the cross. Rather than being funny and likable, cool and edgy, authenticate our witness with signs, wonders and miracles. Make us true kingdom agents of your Kingdom—for your glory alone we pray!”

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Marti Smith August 2, 2012 at 10:25 pm

I appreciate that we have the opportunity to give the Holy Spirit time and a chance to move. What an answer to prayer. I can only imagine how it feels after coming back from some place like Ethiopia where God is moving in such miraculous ways among the people that are hungry. American is asleep and we need to wake up. Entertainment is not where it's at. Thanks Pastor Ray.

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