Where do we go from here?
Have you ever noticed that a staggering number of the Kings referenced in the old testament were wicked? Over and over we read the words, and he did evil in the eyes of the Lord. Of course we know that there were good Kings too. There is something else we should note that is the most important part of this amazing unfolding of human history…God is there at every step of the way. It is by far the most marvelous and important part of the story. It is the truth that gave hope then and that hope continues to this day.
So dear ones, our opening question, where do we go from here has an obvious answer. Forward! Forward with the knowledge that God is still on the throne and still involved in the affairs of man. Forward with the peace and certainty that He loves us and that His important mission for us has not changed, His Kingdom come. Forward in the way that the great Apostle encourages us in Philippians 3:13-14, Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
For some time now I have been saying that this election is not a referendum on Donald Trump or Joe Biden, but rather, on the church. As of this writing it appears that Joe Biden is being declared the winner, not with-standing a number of legal challenges which could reveal major corruption. No matter what happens, or your preference here, let us for the purpose of this conversation assume this is the case and Biden is our new President. I am persuaded that we are entering into an opportunity for our witness to have power it has not had in our nation to date.
This power can only be manifest if we, as the Body of Christ, raise up and respond in a way that demands an explanation. Not unlike Paul and Silas singing spiritual hymns in the jail when an earthquake busted the doors open, and deciding not to leave when a normal person would have. Do you remember what happened? The jailer was so blown away by their response that he asked, sirs, what must I do to be saved. The result? He and his whole family were ushered into God’s Kingdom. All because he saw something in Paul and Silas that confounded him…this is what the world needs to experience from us right now.
What many people are expecting is what they witnessed after the last election. Years of whining, crying, complaining, lying and bickering. This would probably be normal to most. That is exactly why we cannot go there—we are NOT normal. We are called to be a counter-culture, set apart and different. Jesus wants us to maintain a positive and loving attitude toward everyone. He would want us to pray as fervently for Joe Biden as we might have for Donald Trump. My friends this may be the greatest test of the Church in America in our history and the spiritual condition of our nation, and perhaps the world, is on the line. What will history record?
My great concern right now is not where our nation may be headed but rather where what we refer to as the Church of Jesus Christ may be going. This is a defining moment. Are we going to be the real church and focus on what Jesus is calling us to do, or are we going to try to just get back to business as usual? My friends, business as usual did not work and may be the single biggest contributing factor to why we find ourselves in the condition we are in today.
Please understand that I am not being naïve here. Do I expect that religious freedoms may be challenged and we could experience heightened levels of persecution…yes. It may happen at speeds that are dizzying. We need to expect push back—Jesus did. We also need to be thoughtful in planning out our future in the light of these new realities. It is time for all of us but especially Pastors and senior church leaders to go to the whiteboard and prayerfully lay out new strategies for our missions.
I want to put forth some questions to ponder both personally and as church leaders as we go through this next challenging but exciting season:
- Am I, are our people truly prepared for the persecution that is coming?
- Are we as a church willing to preach the truth of the Word of God even if threatened with serious fines and prison? (it has, and continues to happen today in many parts of the world)
- How do I, the church respond to the loss of our tax exempt status?
- Do I, we need to reconsider how resources are being used? (perhaps building expansions or purchases need to be delayed or cancelled)
- Are there activities, church programs that need to be re-evaluated moving forward?
- Should there be an increased effort to expand home groups or house churches? (might this become a forced reality?)
- Should we get more serious and invest more strategically in mechanisms for digital teaching?
- Should we be seriously considering becoming The Amazon Church? Reversing the big box attraction model in favor of bringing the product into the community/neighborhood. (article on this forthcoming)
I know that in my church our Pastor and entire leadership team will be entering into a time of strategic prayer and lengthy discussions regarding our future. Every ministry and current strategy will be on the table for adjustment. We are excited and believing that we are here—right now—for such a time as this.
As I close I would ask you to ponder these words found in Amos 5:21-24 (NLT)
I hate all your show and pretense—the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies. I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings. I won't even notice all your choice peace offerings. Away with your hymns of praise! They are only noise to my ears. I will not listen to your music, no matter how lovely it is. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, a river of righteous living that will never run dry.