Reflections on how Christians help each other to grow and mature in loving God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love their neighbor as themselves.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Will the Church Be A Sign-Community for the Coming Reign of God or An Irrelevant Social Club?


“The church must be reminded that it is not the master of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool. If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority. If the church does not participate actively in the struggle for peace and for economic and racial justice, it will forfeit the loyalty of millions and cause men everywhere to say that it has atrophied its will. But if the church will free itself from the shackles of a deadening status quo, and, recovering its great historic mission, will speak and act fearlessly and insistently in terms of justice and peace, it will enkindle the imagination of mankind and fire the souls of men, imbuing them with a glowing and ardent love for truth, justice, and peace. Men far and near will know the church as a great fellowship of love that provides light and bread for lonely travelers at midnight.” – The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Strength to Love, page 62)

These words of Dr. King are convicting to me. I hope they also convict the church of today that sits idly by as the President of the United States sends 21,000 more soldiers to fight and die or be maimed in a senseless war.

When are the Christians going to stand up and say ENOUGH! This must stop!

Will the Church be a prophetic community of Jesus Christ, a sign community of the coming reign of God? Or will the Church be nothing more than a social club with a veneer of religion?

1 Comments:

Blogger Pastor Troy D. Bohn said...

When the Lord brought back his exiles to Zion We were like MEN WHO DREAMED. We were filled with laughter, and we sang for joy And the other nations said, "What amazing things the Lord has done for them." Yes, the Lord has done amazing things for us! What joy! Restore our fortunes, Lord, as streams renew the desert. Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they RETURN WITH THE HARVEST.Psalm 126

As a grade school student I always loved the stories about the heroic actions of those who fought for the freedom of those held in slavery. I was often amazed that I knew more about Frederick Douglas, Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman than most of my African-American classmates—and I am obviously anglo.

To hear about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad always brought such vivid imagery to my young mind as I read how she would often have to coax freed slaves to run by pointing her revolver at them! Sojourner Truth, a former slave, came to Christ after fleeing and taking up residence with a Quaker family.

One of my favorite stories is of Rosa Parks making a stand in not relinquishing her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama that is credited with being the start of the modern day civil-rights movement.

The above mentioned people all stood for something when very few others were willing to take a stand. They were criticized, ostracized and demonized—and that was just the response by their own people! You would think that those claiming the same heritage or suffering the same atrocities would also share in the commitment to making a difference.

Frederick Douglas, Sojourner Truth, and Harriet Tubman all lived in the 1800's—which was obviously long before I was even thought of—but they left a legacy that transcended generations and even skin color. They were people of extreme character and extreme resolve. They were the real deal regardless of whether you liked them or agreed with them or not.

Even though Rosa Parks lived during my lifetime (she passed away in 2005), the events that sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott occurred in December of 1955 (I was born in 1967) so that event seemed like ancient history to a young man attending elementary school in the 1970's.

This past week our Nation remembered the most widely recognized individual of the civil-rights movement: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. While Dr. King was assassinated just over a year after I was born (April 4, 1968), his legacy and contribution was such that it carries on still to this day.

Maybe it was the way he spoke with the cadence of a Southern preacher, or how his leadership forged relationships and commanded cooperation for the cause at hand, but I have always been intrigued and inspired by his life and influence on those he was called to lead at such an important time in history.

Of the many speeches that this gifted orator delivered, the most recognizable and most often quoted is the one he gave on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. before a crowd of over 200,000 people on August 23, 1968.

"I have a dream…", was the phrase that he repeated eight times as he sought to present a picture of a unified society of American people. Few could have imagined that his personal dream of seeing this come to pass would end just five years later as his life was claimed by the assassin James Earl Ray in Memphis, Tennessee.

Even though Dr. King died, his dream has survived. While there is still much work to be accomplished in relationship to civil-rights, racism and equality of all Americans-- the cause has been adopted by people of all races, ages, and political affiliations. No longer are there signs on water fountains and seating restrictions on public transportation. Their hated has been forced underground and is no longer accepted in the mainstream as it was fifty years ago.

As a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I very much associate with the struggle faced by both the abolitionists of the 1800's and the activists of the 1960's. Reflecting on the issues that brought forth such vicious responses and served to polarize a nation—I could not help but see the eerie similarities faced by those who would dare make a stand for righteousness and truth in these last days.

Genuine Christians are today's most discriminated against people group! I have to use the term genuine because there is much that calls itself Christian that looks, speaks and acts nothing like the "Christ" whose very blood laid its foundation.

Today's "Churches" have been overrun by a Psuedo-Christianity called "seeker sensitivity" that has resulted in a total insensitivity to the Holy Spirit! These purveyors of prosperity and positive thinking have endeavored to castrate the Christians and sterilize the Bride of Christ.

Slick showmen, untouchable superstars and Mr. Rogers-esque sweet-talking hirelings have endeavored to silence the voice of truth and paint those who would dare stand for the holiness and obedience to the unchanging Word of the Living God as kooks, troublemakers, and fringe-fanatics! Does this sound familiar!

Just as Douglas, Truth, Tubman, Parks and King faced the ridicule of those willing to stay ensnared in the yoke of bondage—we too face the snide remarks, segregation and ostracizing antics of a those who fear men and crave success rather than fearing God and hungering for righteousness.

"I Have A Dream…", that one day the Body of Christ will "humble themselves, and pray, and seek (His) face, and turn from their wicked ways; then (He) will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." (2 Chr 7:14)

"I Have A Dream…", that those blinded by this deceit will "repent…and turn to God, so that (their) sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord." (Acts 3:19)

"I Have A Dream…", that people would wake up and realize that "…we ought to obey God rather than men." (Acts 5:29)

"I Have A Dream…", that an urgency would come upon the people of God so that they would "go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature." (Mark 16:15)

"I Have A Dream…", that a generation would rise up that would "…be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, so that they would no longer deceive themselves." (James 1:22)

Even now assassins are being sent out to silence this dream! Their target is the truth and anyone who would dare herald its uncompromising voice. Their weapon of destruction is religious rhetoric, carnal Christianity, and ear-tickling indifference. They are bound and blinded by "the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life" (1 John 2:16) and "their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame and their mind is on earthly things." (Phil 3:19)

Many true believers have been struck by their insidious onslaught. They have been voted out, they have been starved out, they have been forced out, phased out, and called out. But, they never sold out or ran out because they know who brought them out!

"What does God say about it? I have reserved for Myself…men who have not bowed their knee to Baal. At this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace." (Rom 11:4-5)

"I Have A Dream…"

But how do we return to the dream or how do we get the dream if we have never personally known it?

"When the Lord brought back his exiles to Zion,

We were like MEN WHO DREAMED. We were filled with laughter, and we sang for joy And the other nations said, "What amazing things the Lord has done for them." Yes, the Lord has done amazing things for us! What joy! Restore our fortunes, Lord, as streams renew the desert. Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they RETURN WITH THE HARVEST."Psalm 126

Here it is! When the people of Israel where in Babylonian captivity they hung their harps upon the willow trees. The harp was not only a tool for celebration but it also served as a vehicle for prophetic declaration! (The Book of Psalms represents 149 examples of such) While the harps hung upon the willow trees they were silent and ineffective and served as a reminder of the bondage that disobedience and idolatry had brought upon them.

They had been exiled or expelled from their place of promise. "Zion" represented their Kingdom! It was the place that had been carved out for them specifically by the hand and will of God. That was where they were the most powerful and effective. That was where their adversaries had to think twice about challenging them.

While they experienced great numerical growth and financial remuneration during their captivity—this success brought with it a deadly consequence: Idolatry! Why would I call their growth, success, and monetary gain idolatry? Because it took their focus away from "Zion" or the Kingdom and instead placed their focus upon what they "saw" rather than what God had "said."

Abraham was called out by God to be the one who would carry the covenant—yet with all of his blessings, with all of his wealth, and with all of his reputation—he found himself being a liar because of the fear of man!

David---this man after the heart of God. He was a killer of bears, lions and giants—yet he erred in thinking that his victories had something to do with the number of men in his army so he took a census to assess his strength and it resulted in many thousands of deaths.

When you abandon the unseen reality of your God-given "dreams" for the manifested deception of your temporal "understanding" you will find yourself turning away from that which keeps and compels you beyond the limits of your own comprehension and understanding.

Much of what is seen today in the success-driven "church" of North America is not the product or result of God's approval, but rather the "moth eaten, rust corrupted, thievery" (Matt 6:20-21) of religious-wrapped ambition. These things neither represent not glorify the humility, sacrifice or Kingdom focused purpose established by Christ's vicarious death upon the Cross of Calvary.

"Bigger", "Safer", "More Luxurious", "More Inviting", "State of the Art" and "Culturally Relevant" are the new buzz words used to describe these new "Celebration Centers" and "Mall-Like Meccas" where the multitudes throng (Matt 7:13) to discover "How To Have Their Best Life Now" or "How To Be A Christians Without Having an Agenda to See People Saved From Hell" (See- Velvet Elvis).

"I Have A Dream…", that one day "The fear of the Lord (will once again be) the beginning of wisdom…" Prov 9:10

"I Have A Dream…", that the people of God would realize that "without holiness no one will see the Lord." Heb 12:14

"I Have A Dream…", that men and women of God would "Set (their) minds on things above, not on earthly things." Col 3:2

"I Have A Dream…", that the church of the Lord Jesus will cease to be a building and instead return to being believers so that "He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish." Eph 5:27

Until the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ breaks from the captivity and returns to Zion they will remain exiled from the true presence and promises of God! We have got to reject the Sardis church once and for all!

Revelation 3:1 "To the angel of the church in Sardis write…you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead."

There has risen into religious prominence a "white washed tomb" and "clouds without rain" imposter-gospel that looks good on the surface but in reality is empty and dead!

Just as men were judged and even killed because of their outward appearance and the color of their skin, so a generation of 60-minute pew-sitters seeks to silence the "voice of the dream" that is now being heralded in these last days. This dream is a threat to their visible kingdoms and serves to expose it for what it really is!

2 Cor 4:18 "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."

Otherwise…if we do not return break free from this captivity and return our focus on the Kingdom of God and once again occupy the harvest fields of souls which have been irrigated by our own tears…

"They will turn your sons away from following Me to serve other gods, and the Lord's anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you. This is what you are to do to them: (or this is the only solution)

Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones,

cut down their Asherah poles and burn their idols in the fire.

For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, His treasured possession. The LORD did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers that He brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery…" Deut 7:4-8

When you are "turned back to Zion" or when you began to get "Kingdom Minded" you will be like men who dreamed!

"I have a dream…" but the only way that I can keep and maintain that dream is to keep and maintain my commitment to "seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness…" otherwise what was once a dream will become a nightmare of:

Disappointment, depression, deviation, and disaster!

It is time to reach into the drooping branches of your weeping willow and retrieve your harp! There is a prophetic declaration of destiny that has not originated in our short-sighted and self-absorbed understanding of eternity—but it is a declaration that has originated in Heaven—and it is waiting for you to grab that spiritual harp and began to sing in pitch-perfect harmony with the Word of God!

We have got to "break down the altars" that have been erected for us to mourn and lament the disappointment in failing at our man-made ministries, our lukewarm churches, and our pabulum peddling preachers.

We have got to "smash the sacred stones" that have provided Golden Calf gratification and suck the very resources from the Kingdom and squander them on monuments to men and creature comforts to wide-gate religious wannabe's.

We have got to "cut down their Asherah poles" of the latest book or the latest seminar or the latest Christian television program that provide a sinister substitute for the a genuine faith-filled, fruit-producing relationship with Jesus.

We have got to "burn their idols with fire" by walking in the fulfillment of the Word of God to be "baptized in the Holy Ghost and with fire!"

He has declared that "we are a people holy to the Lord" and even though we may seem "few in numbers" He has still yet set His affections upon us with the declaration that we have been "redeemed from the land of slavery!"

"In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams." Acts 2:17

"I Have A Dream….Do You?"

Pastor Troy D. Bohn
Raven Ministries
P.O. Box 1897
Daytona Beach, FL 32115
www.ravenoutreach.blogspot.com

12:11 AM

 

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