Tuesday, September 17, 2013

To Reform the Church

If one were to give a set of steps for reforming the church, the first couple would have to go something like this:
  1. Realize it's not your job.
  2. Pray and read Scripture.
The second is second because it must be seen in light of the first. If you're praying because you think that praying will get the church reformed, or a revival to happen, then you're still thinking of it like it's your job. Prayer and Bible reading exist primarily for getting to know God. Getting to know God, we will become like him. In this way, our own lives will be reformed, revived. Then we will be salt and light, and others will see that something is different, and then the church will be different, since we all are members of the Church. Those who are in the church will see the others in the church and be sharpened by each other, and learn from one another how great it is to know God, and thus we will all come to hunger for him. Why do we not now hunger for him as we ought? Have forgotten how precious he was when we first encountered him? Or have some of us never encountered him? Do not read Scripture for the sake of reading Scripture. Do not pray for the sake of prayer. Rather, pray and read the Scriptures for the sake of knowing God. Do good for the sake of knowing God, or because, knowing God, you can do nothing else. The Gospel is that we can know God. Do we cast that aside so lightly, like Esau sold his birthright?

Regarding those around us who we feel need revival, Christ says to us, as to Peter, "what is that to you? You follow me!" If you think others need to be fixed more than you, you are not looking at what is worth looking at. You cannot fix them! Pray for them, yes, as brothers and sisters. But look at yourself first: you are sinful, too. You cannot even fix yourself, why do you bother even trying to fix others? If you could fix someone, it would be yourself. You cannot even tame your own tongue, which you are in control of, how then can you hope to tame another's tongue, which you have no control over? If your will is what is the problem, and you can hardly guess at what another's will is like, how futile is it to try to fix them? Pray for them, not because that will fix them, but because you cannot fix them.

You cannot bring revival. You can be revived, though. As I watch others, I see God drawing people out of their graves. People hear God say "Lazarus, come out," and simply come out. Yet as I see myself, I look at God and ask him to call me. Yet if I am revived, I know that it is because he did. Can I will myself alive? No. Yet I must do as the Lord commands me. Can I will that? No, yet to me it will feel as though I am willing. When God calls, it is irresistible. When I am called, it is as though I have a choice, but I can do no other. I see the other way as the way a fool would go, or I see the right way as the one that any who saw it would desire.

When I reach the end of myself, and see that I need God, and when I see that he is worth knowing in and of himself, then I am at the point where, called or not (though I am called) I will do what the one who is called is called to do. I would barge into his throne room without fear that he would then curse me, not necessarily because I am sure he won't, but because if I do not enter now I will live as one cursed--I will interrupt God if that is necessary for eternal life! This is humility before God, just as a child who calls for his mother to help him, nagging, interrupting, is being humble in that he knows he cannot do it himself.

When the church sees the worth of God, then it will have been reformed by God. We can only be reformed. We cannot reform. Luther did not reform the church, he was caught up in God reforming the church. He was merely among the first to be reformed. There is no leader in a revival or a reformation other than Christ, there are only those who go before us. And we follow their lead in following Christ, as a younger brother learns how to obey (or disobey) his parents from watching and listening to his older brother. In the same way, we are all leading those who will go after us, and those who are around us. That is how prayer and Scripture reading leads to revival: if we come to know God well, others will follow us in seeking God, and they, too, will come to know him, and knowing God transforms people.

No comments:

Post a Comment