I’ve been dealing with this God business a long time, matter of fact, all of my adult life and most of my childhood. During this period of time I have been involved in just about every level and function of the church. From maintenance and repair to the lofty position of the senior pastor with all the stops in between, yes sir, I’ve done it all.
Along the way I have learned quite a bit about church life and the people who attend. I know how to conduct a worship service. I know how to structure the government of a church, set up the staff, plan the yearly calendar and pull off social programs. I am what you would call an experienced professional in the world of the American church.
However, what I have also learned in this journey of duty and service is that much of this has very little, if anything, to do about knowing God and really understanding who He is.
Oh don’t get me wrong. The church, as we have come to know it, has a very important function in the process of knowing God. In the structure of the church we find a loving family who will love us and teachers who will show us the way to grow and be strong. Many times we have met Christ in the very church that we are being raised up in.
Unfortunately, in too many cases throughout the history of the church, at some point a common occurrence takes place. We begin to worship the creation more than the creator. Without us even realizing it habits, dogma and tradition take the place of personal reliance on the Spirit of God. Instead of walking by faith we begin to act out of past experiences and patterns of the past. We end up spending most of our efforts in memorizing and perfecting things that have long ago lost their life. Much of the time we fail to realize that old “manna” attracts worms.
By the time the second generation of any group of believers rolls around doctrine has pretty well been established. The theology (that which we know about God) has been set in stone. From that point on “new revelation” is really old revelation recycled.
“This is what we believe” is then put in the front of our bulletins, carved into the walls of our churches and thrown up on the light screen. We have arrived, we now know God. We gladly declare it to all who will listen. Look and see, here He is. His beginning, His middle and His end.
Oh we don’t say it that way but that,s the way we see it. God in a box. The box of our knowledge, understanding and experience. How could there be anything but what we know? How could there be any experience worth having that we already haven’t experienced?
And so it goes, until the church, which God intended to be a marching and fighting church, finds its feet planted firmly in concrete unable to advance or retreat.
“So that’s great, Dr. Watkins, you’ve succeeded in diagnosing the problem. Now what do we do about it?
I’m glad that you ask. There is plenty that we can do about it. And it is realty the same thing that every generation has had to do to break the same cycle of bondage and blindness. We must turn our face away from the creation back to the creator. “ Seek ye the Lord” is still the command of the hour and “calling upon the Lord” is still in fashion.
God is God of the present. He is doing something now. I seek Him and run after Him so that I can be a part of His current activities. When the scriptures tells us that “this is the day of salvation”, it literally means that in your current situation, you can receive and enjoy all of the benefits He has paid for and given you.
Some will ask the question, “Is God healing the sick today”? That’s a box question.
Others will say, “ There is no prophets, no apostles, no miracle workers no mystics. That’s a view from the box.
One of the great mysteries of life is why those who are in the box fight so hard to keep others from leaving the box. Our greatest persecution always comes from those who are behind us, not those who are in the front.
Paul told us, (Heb 6)”to go on and get past the elementary stage in the teachings and doctrine of Christ.” What does it mean to “go on”? On to what? Paul said we were to go on “ unto spiritual maturity.”
In all reality, spiritual maturity does not come from working harder for the Lord. Spiritual maturity comes from spending time in His presence. Face to face with the Father. Getting to know Him personally.
We need to see the big picture that God sees. When we do, then we can begin to think like God thinks. BIG and full of faith.
Blessing to you all,