In western culture pastors, elders, ministers, worship leaders, and youth pastors are making an organized business out of what Jesus intended to be the church that would make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28).
But a midst all of the struggles for fame, popularity, concerts, numbers, and money, how much of this “ministry business” is actually accurately Biblical? Did Jesus actually intend for a people whom He called “His Body” and the “light in the world” to look like a “hip-hop go to business?”
One thing that we specifically see in Matthew 28 is that Jesus says, “go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” We do not see Him saying “go therefore and make temples, rock stars, money, and popular people so that the nations will be attracted to you and become weekly visitors.”
Am I really saying that having church buildings, worship bands, and a regular income is wrong? Certainly not! These things are all necessary in ministry, but they are not what Jesus has called the church ultimately to do.
What I am getting at is that in the westernized church we have taken Jesus’ command to “go into” all the world into attract all the world to “come into” us. We have changed Jesus’ mission from “go and tell” into “come and hear” because it feels better for us.
Revelation 3 speaks of a church in Laodicea that has pretty much everything right accept what is most important: Jesus! It describes a church where Jesus is standing at the door knocking but the church is too consumed in itself to care or notice. They say “I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.” (v17)
Am I really claiming that this message was given specifically to the western church?No, but I am certainly saying that it is relevant for today’s church and that we should be repentant of such things!
Many of us are just so absorbed in gathering the numbers, the cool and talented musicians, the speakers with all the answers who can’t be stumped, claiming prosperity, and more and more self-centered works that we flat out neglect the lost, hurting, and desperate whom God is drawing for us to reach as His mission. In short a lot of us really look like republican and democratic religious politicians playing out “Church Wars: Episode 6: Revenge of the Prophet.” But in the long run we are in danger of looking less and less like Jesus Christ our Father.
As if having the biggest and most successful church or having the smallest and most comfortable family church is what really matters to the Lord! We have given into pagan philosophies invented by man that obsess with image and status and devalue human beings. But Jesus was specific that the first will be last and the the last will be first (Matthew 19:30). He was also specific that those who would seek to keep their lives will lose it and that those who seek to lose their lives for His sake will find it (Matthew 10:39).
Two sins that western culture reeks of is lust and pride. We tend to think that storing up our treasures on earth (Ref. Matthew 6:20) will make us more like the real Jesus all while outright ignoring a multitude of the scriptures.
So how is the western church ever to be revived into being more like Jesus? 1. Repenting of our sins. And 2. Following after Jesus (leaving this world behind).
Clearly Christ wasn’t that interested in church numbers because every time a stadium’s worth of people would gather to hear Him preach He would give freaky and unpopular sermons that said things like “leave your family behind and don’t bury your parents,” (Matthew 10:37) (Matthew 8:22). At the end of that sermon He ended up pastoring only twelve men.
Neither was Jesus interested in isolated family churches that pray and read with their own but never reach out. He always seemed to be travelling from town to town talking to prostitutes and sinners and being followed by religious jealous people who ended up killing Him. What were these prime examples of Jesus Christ? Servanthood, sacrifice, and humility. Jesus left His Heavenly home and took on the form of a servant washing His disciples feet and commanding them to do that for each other (Philippians 2:7) (John 13).
I believe that Jesus loves His western church and I believe He is not going to abandon her. But I also believe that there are scores of people around the world who think that they are going to heaven when they simply are not believers in the Cross. I am praying to God for revival in and out of our country. But I know that this will come by repentance, humility, forgiveness, and servanthood.
“Lord, I thank You for loving Your church enough to die for her and exchange Your perfect Righteousness that we just do not deserve for our sin’s punishment. For that I can never praise You enough. I pray for the church in the west that I am a part of. I pray that You will continue to lift her up out of the distractions and snares of the evil one. I pray that You will teach us to lean upon You for everything. I pray that You will teach us to trust You as our strength, fame, treasure, and first love. I pray that You will teach us to multiply and to bring into fellowship those whom You have drawn for Yourself. I give You praise for bring my own personal savior and also the global savior of Your own church. I thank You for blotting out my sin by Your own blood for Your own glory in which my boasting is taken from me sweetly. I pray that You will continue to sanctify and purify Your church here for Your own glory. I repent of any lust and pride in me that would seek to revive my flesh. It starts with You lifted up, it starts with me on my knees, it starts with us on our knees, but it ultimately ends with You lifted up on high.”