Ah, the early church. They turned the whole world upside down. A force to be reckoned with. A thorn to the Romans, a hammer to the Jews. They didn’t just upset the apple cart, they strapped 20 lbs. of C-4 to it and blew it sky-high! These pioneers and noobs turned the whole system on its ear by prayer, teaching, worship, fellowship and sharing stuff and meals. Plus, the evangelism that naturally sprang forth was hands-down the purest and hottest flame-throwing the world had ever seen. Simple stuff…radical stuff. They carved out true and undefined religion in a time rife with pharisaism and idolatry. These commoners started something that has still never died. Counter-culture. Revolutionary. Effective.
Now look at the American church in its current state….
Away with singing Ozzy songs for worship or sneaking Jesus’ Name into poorly ripped-off, ’80’s pop tunes. “You spin me right-round-Jesus-right-round…” I’m mean, what’s up with all the Precious Moments porcelain collections and Thomas Kinkade paintings or pretty much any “Jesus-junk” section at almost any “Christian” bookstore. Almost any of us with a biblical brain in our heads knows that 3/4 of anything sold in a Christian bookstore, and 2/3 of the books are rather trite and pointless. It is the sin of emulation. Mammon worship is as prevalent as Yahweh worship. It is real easy to come up with a gitchee T-shirt slogan and a one-off Bible verse (in a overdone font, like Papyrus), a lot easier than being truly and thoughtfully, maybe even prayerfully…authentic.
People, seriously, the world knows that it has problems and can’t fix itself. So they know when we are just patterning ourselves after something that is already out there. It’s too easy and too cheap. Equally and honestly though, we ALL know when something is transparent and pure and it’s hard to argue its validity.
Why don’t Christians set the tone of Culture? Instead of following it. We should be the trend-setters and the spearheaders. The God of all creation is our comrade in arms, yet we settle for fast-food style and new patches that pull away from the garments we sew them on. Whereas the New Wine is always new…and always the perfect Gospel of Jesus, yet the wineskin needs to be changed out from time to time. New wineskins always speak of a new movement, an awakening, a spiritual/cultural shift of vivation and strength in the Body of Christ.
It is in us to blaze trail. It is in us, the Spirit-born, to invent and create. It is in us to call on an infinitely wise God to refresh weary hearts and minds and bring living water to parched earth. And America, the not-so-brave anymore, is in dire need of the something very new and healthy…a movement that is honest and real, not a poor rip-off of something that is already not working for anyone.
The hard part is coming up with the ideas. This isn’t a cosmic board meeting or think tank. We can’t just try real hard and be smart about this. Committees and throwing money at it, never works. Better websites, cooler threads, more media…wont cut it. We have to cry out to God. Ask Him what to do. What is His plan for renovations in this nation? How does He want to go about it? Who will He use? Where? Brokenness and obedience are key ingredients to an authentically, heaven-sent revival.
It was said of the 1900’s Welsh revivals, that God always wanted revival, but the people did not…weren’t ready. I think this is where we are at. When we finally try all the new stuff, read the latest books, and watch a Christian movie or two (admittedly, mostly lame)…we arrive at a blessed point of desperation. And when you pray and cry out in blessed desperation, God answers and teaches and fills us and equips and lead the way to everything HE wants for all of what ails us. It’s crazy, you start praying and fasting and waiting on Him, dwelling in His Presence, and He says, “More prayer. Forgive one another. Get back to the Word. Remember your first love. Trust Me to provide. Worship in Spirit & Truth. Go here. Stop that. Do this.”
It’s like He actually speaks and shows us what to do…when we ask with our whole heart.
…And He has shown me, oh man!, to change culture…one simple, back-to-basics stroke of obedience at a time.