There was a day in the life of my church when we talked about revival, renewal, and reformation a lot. Now that day seems like only a memory. We ached for revival–the refilling of old wineskins, the refueling of empty lamps, the reenergizing of old and weary Christians. We longed for renewal–when new wine would be poured into new wineskins, when new bodies would be exchanged for old. We prayed for reformation–when the old would be put away with for good and we would be victorious forever. We saw that something was wrong with where we were and we desired that God would move us from where we were.
Somehow, though, we lost that yearning for a move of God. As church size dwindled, we started to look for church growth strategies. Lost in a mire of books and problems, we asked ourselves not “where is God?” but “Where are the people?” We forgot that where God is, He grows. And church size continued to decline. We were in maintenance mode and no one knew it. Maintaining the nursery, maintaining Sunday School, maintaining the youth group. We were maintaining much as a Nurse readjusts a barely living person in there hospital bed in a desperate, last ditch attempt against bed sores. But it hasn’t helped. The programs may still be holding on by a thread, but the church within is practically dead.
Somewhere, in the midst of our trials, we forgot to hope in God. We forgot that the one who began a work in us has promised to be faithful to complete it. We got busy trying to do God’s job. And we failed miserably. Instead of joining God in what He’s doing, we decided to think something up and ask God to join us. Instead
of asking for direction, we started looking behind us, asking Him to clear up our mistakes. We lost the sense of God, and we stagnated. We shunned the Holy Spirit, and we are dying. We tried to save on our own and have found nothing but bondage.
What has happened to the God who does miracles? What has happened to the God who speaks to His people? What has happened to the God who changes lives? Nothing has happened to God. It is only that the church has failed to reflect Him.
I was a young teen during those days of longing for revival, renewal, reformation. I was overwhelmed by the story of Moses on the mountaintop, who after seeing the glory of God, came away with a shining face. His face was so bright that they had to stick a veil over it so that it did not hurt the eyes of the Israelites. I wanted so badly to have an encounter with God that would leave me blinding. I wanted an encounter that would make everyone around me know that I had met God. I still think that kind of encounter would be cool, but I gave up hoping that it would happen. II Corinthians 3:18 reminds us of this encounter and points us forward, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” As we look at God, we are changed into His likeness. We are transformed to be more like Him. And our faces are not veiled–we are a shining example of Christ’s likeness. Why is it then that when I walk into church, no one has a glowing face? Why do not more lives show the transforming power of Christ?
Perhaps it is because we fail to behold the glory of the Lord. To walk into our churches, could anyone tell that a powerful, living God dwells therein? The cares and worries that overwhelm the church clutter the power of God. The multitude of our words clamour above the still small voice that speaks a Living Word. Our prayers are not accessing an all powerful God. Instead they exhort a weak man. But what are our words, what are our cares, what are our prayers if God is not our Life? We are pointless, dead, dying, irrelevant.
Lord, awaken in Your church a hunger for Your face. Teach us to desire Your presence, to long for Your voice. Help us to seek Your presence, and the transformation that only You can bring. Let us grow tired of man’s answers, and instead let us thirst for Your voice. We don’t need a new program. We don’t need a new solution. We don’t need more people. We need You. Teach us to desire You with all our hearts.