Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand. Jesus Christ.
We have been so busy I don't often find myself writing of what is on my heart, occupying my thoughts & bothering my conscience so much as of what we are doing ~ & that is not half so interesting. Well, not to me at any rate.
Several years ago I read Brother Yun's The Heavenly Man & was humbled by the story of the Chinese church, the persecution they suffer & their willingness to suffer for the sake of Christ. Someone lent me Yun's new book, Living Water, & the very first thing I read was about what has been deeply troubling my heart about the western church for a long time.
Where, oh where, did we ever get the idea that to belong to Christ gave us a free pass out of the troubles of this life? Not from God. Not from Scripture. We, in the west, are like the Laodicean church ~ well of materially, comfortable spiritually, self~sufficient. We do not really know what it means to suffer persecution & we are spiritually sick. We tolerate sin because we have slotted comfortably into our world & instead of being alarmed about this we sprook nonsense about tolerance! Scripture tells us we are wayfarers & sojourners; we should not be comfortable in this world because this is not our true home!
I'm not in the business of condemning anybody. That is neither my place nor my business so I will try to use the first person so no~one feels condemned except myself because frankly, I am not guiltless & God has been drawing my attention to 2 things for a very long time: repentance & personal holiness. Obviously I'm a very slow learner.
Repentance is not saying, Oops! Sorry, forgive me. Nope. Repentance is radical. Repentance is the shearing away of absolutely everything in our lives that does not glorify God. I am in serious trouble on this one even before I get to my pet little sins that no~one knows about except me & God. It includes the things that are neither good nor bad in & of themselves. It includes some things that are perfectly good & may be ok for others but not for me. Repentance is not just a turning away; it is a turning towards: away from sin & selfishness, towards self~denial & God.
Western culture has so much to tempt & distract, so much to silence the still small voice of God it is no wonder our churches are full of pew warmers who wouldn't know a movement of the Holy Spirit if they fell over it. OK, maybe that's a little harsh but seriously, all week I wade through morasses of non believers. I am stained & tainted by the world every which way I turn. Come Sunday when I plonk my butt down on that church pew I don't want to be fed milk sop & stagnate for an hour amongst people who are not radical for the Lord. I want to be roused, challenged, strengthened, encouraged, fortified for the next week's battle. I want to be empowered to love more, forgive faster, sacrifice more, give more ~ in short glorify my Lord & saviour more!
I have been led in some choices in more recent years that have had a most peculiar effect because in real life I'm rather shy [ hard to believe the way I rattle on here but it's true] & I don't make friends easily. Actually I find small talk impossibly aggravating & totally exhausting & it puts people off having this tongue~tied woman standing round uncomfortably obviously anxious to be gone but I am starting to lose count of the number of people who have approached either Liddy or I & gone, 'So what religion are you?' Liddy, who has a gift of missions, promptly launches into a synopsis of the gospel. I am far more cautious & always want to know why they want to know! lol.
The thing is, if I've learnt nothing else from scripture & particularly from the Gospels, it's that personal holiness is charismatic. Jesus is the most holy man who ever lived & the people flocked to him in absolute droves. Yes, I know he worked miracles & people wanted all sorts of things from him but I'm pretty sure a starving crowd wouldn't have hung around to listen to Him lecture if there wasn't something to hold them bar the odd miracle or two. True holiness is mesmerizing. And it would be very easy to achieve if only I lived alone on an island without the 5 nutty & talented kids, one disabled man & a fruitloop of a cat who has yet to be convinced he's not human & entitled to his share of the available resources!
The signs of the times are not good. Every day there is more evidence that the world is hurtling towards Hell just as fast as it can get there & every day it becomes harder & harder to wade against the tide, to hold fast to that which is pure & good, to stand firm. Change within is frustratingly slow but it is there. I no longer desire many of the things I once did. I have learnt to be content ~ for the most part. It helps to live where we do, where God's thumbprint on His creation is very much in evidence but I have a long way to go. I do want to go though because without holiness none of us will see God & I do, after all, want to see God.