Jump Start # 2021
Romans 8:29 “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.”
The past several Jump Starts have been looking at challenges facing today’s church. Leaderships need to give serious thought as to where their flock is and where the Lord wants them to be. Sometimes that look presents a picture that we do not want to see. Things can look pretty good at 32,000 feet in the air. However, when we are up and close, we see that things look differently. Busy people, as we are today, demands a busy eldership that sees where we are and what is grabbing our attention. I was in a paint store a while back, looking at shades of green paint. Goodness! I never knew there were so many shades of green. It got me dizzy. Too many choices. The shades of error can be just like green paint. So many, shades. Some hardly even look like error, but they are.
In our final chapter in this series, challenges facing today’s church, we want to look at conforming ourselves to be like Jesus. In this fast paced, modern word, where there is an app for just about anything, being like Jesus seems so far and distant from our world. We are rarely idle. We are rarely without some form of electronic media running near us. Kids no longer look out the car window as they go down the road. They are looking at the video screen in front of them. That’s not wrong, it’s just the world we live in.
Being like Jesus, that’s what God wants. That’s what the Gospel shapes us into. That’s what we ought to want, but it can seem like an impossibility. Jesus was always where He was supposed to be. We are not. He was always thinking the best, we don’t. We was always pure, sometimes we are not. We fight feelings of prejudice. We struggle with indifference and apathy. We are so busy with life that we barely have time for church services. If we could have a drive-thru for church, some would like that. That’s our world!
The challenge facing today’s church is not filling up the pews. It’s not meeting budgets, paying off the building, or adding on. It’s not finding more leaders. The great challenge is getting Christians to live like Jesus. Getting us to think spiritually, not once in a while, but all the time. What a difference that would make. To think spiritually, before we make a decision, what a difference that would make. To think spiritually while on a date. To think spiritually before the question is popped or the answer “yes,” is given. To think spiritually when applying for a college. To think spiritually when accepting a job offer. To think spiritually while choosing what movie to watch. What a difference thinking spiritually would be. I think we’d complain less, if we could think spiritually. I think we’d not be so bothered if we could think spiritually. Set your mind on things above is what we find in Scriptures. It’s that “setting” part that gets us. We may put our minds on spiritual things for a moment, while sitting in church on Sunday, but our minds don’t stay there. It’s not set. Our minds move. They move to worry and fear. We get stressed and tired on the inside. We can be so distracted and so bothered about so many things. Off in the distance, we hear the Lord calling our names, just like Martha. “Roger, Roger, you are worried and bothered about so many things.” Get that mind set on spiritual things! That’s the key.
How many times does a person get into some spiritual mess and his first statement is, “I guess I wasn’t thinking.” Obviously! The dangers we put our souls in, often times could be lessened if we thought spiritually. Our concerns about church attendance would not exist if people thought spiritually. Modesty wouldn’t be a problem among God’s people if we thought spiritually.
We can preach and preach about modesty, friends, finances, attitudes, habits and on and on we preach, but until we start thinking spiritually, someone has to tell us what’s right and what’s wrong. The mature, Hebrews says, have trained their senses to discern good and evil.
Two thoughts immediately pop out of that expression.
First, senses are trained. We potty train children and house train pets. On their own, our senses are untrained. We are likely to say anything and do anything. No limitations. No borders. No restrictions. Untrained, we’ll make a mess. Untrained, we’ll probably make the wrong choices. Untrained, are we are not pleasing the Lord.
Who trains us? How do we get trained? The text implies that the mature have trained themselves. They did this with the word of God. It is the word of God that tells us what is right and what is wrong. It’s the word of God that warns us and motivates us. Trained by the Scriptures. Shaped by the word of God. Trained senses realize that some things should not be said. Trained senses recognizes some things should not be looked at.
Second, senses are trained to discern good and evil. Not everything is spelled out in the Bible. Some things have to be discerned or figured out. There is more than just the obvious. What about influences? What about consequences? Some people do not recognize the difference between good and evil. This is why some will say, “I don’t see anything wrong with this.” They don’t. They can’t. Their senses aren’t trained. They can’t recognize good and evil. Everything looks the same. The criteria comes down to how does it make you feel. If it is something that I want to do, then it must be good. If I don’t want to do it, then it must be evil. I become the standard. I determine good and evil, right and wrong.
So, the great challenge facing today’s church is not just teaching the Bible, but it’s getting folks to think spiritually. It’s getting people to train their senses. It’s getting them to discern good and evil. “Just tell me what to do,” isn’t the way to go. Think for yourself. Look within the word of God. Think. Think spiritually.
Imagine the number of prayers that would be racing Heavenward if more and more were thinking spiritually each day. Imagine the change in attitudes if more and more were thinking spiritually. Imagine the people who would be apologizing because they were now thinking spiritually. Imagine how shepherds in the church would have it so much easier if more and more thought spiritually.
That’s a real challenge. Getting more and more people to live like Jesus. And, just how is this accomplished? Preaching and teaching. That’s always been the answer. Keep showing more and more people the word of God. Keep the image of Jesus before our hearts. Don’t settle for just getting by. Don’t be content with filled church buildings. Conformed to Jesus is the challenge.
I hope this series has given you some things to think about and talk about. Hopefully it helps us to see what our great mission and work is before us. The challenges are great, but greater is He who is in us than He who is in the world.