“A Plea to the Church-The God Who Is” by Terry Carlton
“I have been around the church my whole life. I love the church. I’ve seen the ugly, the bad, and the good. It’s what God has called me to be obedient to because I am his follower. I love the church because he has called me to minister to it. I want to take some time over the next few weeks and make some pleas with the church because quite frankly you are losing a lot of people. My plea today is this:
Stop focusing on the God who was and relentlessly pursue the God who is. I’ve been around the conservative movement my whole life and growing up in the late 80’s and 90’s you heard a lot about the conservative resurgence that took place in the 50’s and 60’s. There was a big wave of mass evangelism going on during this era that flooded the church. People were coming to Christ by the droves, the pews and altars were full, and people were faithful and passionate.
There is nothing wrong with looking to the past as a rich source of strength and encouragement. But if the past never compels you to do anyting in the present then you are bound for failure. “If we are not progressively moving in the present toward the future then we will be stuck in the past.” Let me flesh this out– What I find in the church is a great priority placed on what God did rather than what he is doing and can do. I respect the move of God that took place in the 60’s but I wasn’t there. The people that I minister to were not there. Thousands of people sitting in our pews were not there either. What I’ve found is that the church is putting so much emphasis on what God did back then, that we expect everything to look like it did back then as well. If our music isn’t the same, if our formalities and structures aren’t the same, if our dress isn’t the same, if our methodologies aren’t the same then God is just STUCK. Let me plead with you:
1.God cannot be put into an equation or formula-I do believe there is such a thing as irreverent worship of God but no man can tell me that A+B=THE MOVE OF GOD. Does God have boundaries and guidelines? Yes, read your Bible! My plea to you is please don’t tell me that just because God did it up big way back then that it has to look that way today. I hardly think that the worship service that took place in 1 Kings 18 at the base of Mt. Caramel remotely resembled the resurgence of 1960.
2.Generations are lost because you are stuck-I believe that the most evident stronghold that this mindset has tainted is our youth. They do not understand the logic of what is promoted within the majority of our churches. Why do you put so much emphasis on what God did, and rarely ever praise him for what he is doing? Does that mean he can’t do that now? Does that mean that he won’t use me? Does that mean that God has already done his most glorious and powerful work? Students are totally lost within the culture of this mindset because it completely ignores what God is currently doing in them. Sure, they look different, talk different, have different interests, they may even desire to worship different, but can you prove that God is not working in the midst of their lives? Does God’s Word limit every culture in every place in every time to a certain method of worship? My plea to you is to move on from the past and relentlessly pursue God today.
3.He is the same yesterday, TODAY, and forever. As I study the implications of worship in the Scriptures, I find that worship is primarily individual and internal. True worship is between the worshipper and God. If I’m not worshipping God daily and consistently then when I engage in a corporate service, I’m really not worshipping. If I’m solely stuck on what God did, how he did it, why he did it and expect that move to look just like it did way back then, my personal worship is dry and thirsty. When we remove our traditional glasses and read the Scriptures with un-biased eyes, we will find a God who never changes. The same God that brought the world into existence; the same God that walked with Enoch; the same God that brought fire down from heaven; the same God that let John lay his head on his chest; the same God that walked on water; the same God that sat in the middle of a house full of sinners; the same God that hung on the Cross and shed his blood for my sins, is the same God I have the privilege to worship and experience today. Sure, the way I experience him and the setting in which I sense his presence will be a little different than Enoch, David, Peter, Paul, and John; yet he is still the same. So I want to focus on the God of today, the God who is-not just who was. My plea is that you will do the same because I may not appreciate all that God did way back then but I know without a doubt he is waiting to do big things TODAY!”
“ Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!” Revelation 4:8