Jesus saw everything spiritually. He took everything to His Father in prayer. He was uncompromising and unapologetic about His standards, and He expected those who followed Him to be as He was.
There is an abomination raging through the church today–an insidious lie that you can be “too heavenly minded to be any earthly good.” It comes coupled with the ideology that “we have to teach at the level of the youngest spiritual one.” This is deception, and it is dangerous. The most radical one among us has not yet come close to touching the Holy God. Not even close.
The church of Thyatira in Revelation 2 is a striking example of God’s requirement. The Thyatirans were faithful in love and steadfast in faith. They endured persecution faithfully. They served with diligence. They were the “model” church–down to “giving grace” to a woman named Jezebel; and this is what Jesus held against them. This woman called herself a prophetess and set herself up as a teacher to those in the church. She led the people into immorality, giving no regard to purity, and encouraged them to eat food sacrificed to idols (most probably under the umbrella of “grace”).
“What about grace?” Yes, there is abundant, great grace for us–but grace is not, nor should it ever be, our cop-out to blatant, self-indulgence. The lie of a comfortable life leads us into spiritual laziness that leaves us unprepared for when the storm hits. Make no mistake, the storm will hit.
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How does Jezebel look in our day? She might be the one always coming with a “God told me…” word that never comes to pass. Her teaching lacks theological soundness and does not fully align with the written Word of God. She might seem quintessentially hospitable, rushing to welcome new families into the church under the guise of “reaching out” but really so she can expand her influence.
Let me pause to state emphatically: Not every woman who walks in the authority of a teacher has “a Jezebel spirit.” Unfortunately, we seem to divide into two camps on the issue of women in church–we either allow (in the name of “grace”) our “Jezebel” to run rampant, preying on our young people and leaving broken people in her wake, or we become so paranoid of women in authority that we quote 1 Timothy 2:12 out of context. More on that another day.
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There are those who say to “take off your spiritual glasses so you can see the real world.” Consider this–we wear glasses because our sight is flawed. Jesus Himself counsels us to put ointment on our eyes that we may see (Revelation 3:18). Is it more of a problem that we have too many people who see everything spiritually, or that we have too many who see the ministry as a 9-to-5, paycheck producing means to an end (the “end” here being a comfortable life) and see little or nothing spiritually as soon as they pull out of the church parking lot? Without our spiritual glasses, we are merely the blind leading the blind.
The storm is coming. Men like David Wilkerson have faithfully heralded it for years; and we are wasting time. We are training our young people in the barest rudiments of faith–squeezing in 15 minutes of God-time between air-hockey and the Xbox. The praying generation of grandparents and great-grandparents who learned the faithfulness of God through the Great Depression are dying, and their praying-power is dying with them. We urgently, desperately need to lead the American Christian into radical obedience and radical love now, while we still have access to resources. Seasons of spiritual rest are times we should push in harder–asking the Lord to pour out His Spirit and living out the Great Commission.
I long to see churches as a whole leading their young people in putting down the game controller and picking up the Word, where the “icebreaker” for youth service every week is going to the local hospital and laying hands on the sick, where worship begins before the ministry team walks onto the platform.
There’s more. Let’s go.