Sometimes you have to work hard to find the good news in the midst of the bad news. Our world certainly has many problems and we don’t need to look very far to find the bad news. Everywhere we turn there is bad news – even within the Church. I have read many reports and surveys about the decline in members across the Church in our nation. I have spoken with many other leaders in many denominations who seem despondent and mellow as they watch their Church families shrink and the average age of their members rise day by day.
We switch on the television for some light relief only to be confronted with wars, famine, natural disasters, a global pandemic, political unrest. Almost every day we see the underbelly of fallen humanity in organised crime, domestic violence, poverty and homelessness and the rapidly declining moral foundations of our nation.
It’s not surprising therefore to hear the question on many people’s lips within the Church, “What is God doing?” This is not a new place for we humans to find ourselves. It has happened countless times throughout our history. We get to the end of ourselves and our resources and find our world is still in a mess and we start wondering if God is even there. All of that is normal and very human but it’s what we do next that will determine how long we find ourselves in such a helpless place. It’s what we do next that is the key to our future.
We have a choice when we get to the end of ourselves in the face of evil and moral decay: we can complain and blame or we can confess and repent.
We can complain and blame others for the state of the world or we can confess and repent of our sin and the sin of humanity. I know I am not personally responsible for all the woes of the world, but as a disciple of Christ and a member of God’s family I must share the responsibility for fixing all that is broken. God is sovereign and God could just step in, wave His hand and fix everything in our lives, our Churches and our world. Why doesn’t He do that?
The simple answer is found in one word: partnership. God has always been committed to a partnership with those who are made in His image and so His plan from before the foundation of the world was that healing, salvation, reconciliation and peace will come to this world as He works in and through His children, His ambassadors, His army of faithful followers who are filled with and empowered by His Holy Spirit.
We all want healing in our land and in our world and God promised a very long time ago (see 2 Chronicles 7:14) that He would bring such healing to our land when we His people, who are called by His name, humble ourselves and pray and seek His face and turn from our sin … then God will hear, forgive and heal.
God the Holy Spirit always moves in response to God’s people and He has not stopped moving at any point since the birth of the Church. We can read the book of Acts and Paul’s epistles and see how the Spirit of God moved in response to the obedience, submission and prayers of God’s people.
Then in every generation since then the Holy Spirit has continued to move but more often than not, we don’t notice because we are not looking to the horizon – we are preoccupied with this fallen world and all its problems. If we decide to focus on what God is actually doing in our world rather than on what we, in all our ‘wisdom’, think God is not doing, our whole perspective will change!
First of all, we see the complete truth about our world and not just the dark side. Secondly, we see that in spite of the unrestrained evil unfolding in one part of the world, at the same time, evil is being forcefully driven back elsewhere as the Spirit of God moves with power in an unprecedented way. Our finite minds can’t fathom how God can move so definitively in one place and appear to not be moving at all in another. But such challenges are ‘beyond our pay grade’ and we simply need to seek the Lord and ask Him to show us His hand at work in the world and teach us to pray.
I want to remind you today, just in case you didn’t know; I want to encourage you, just in case you thought God was sleeping on the job; and I want to challenge you to face the question we all should face every time we hear a sermon, read a Christian book or article or study the Bible. At every point we need to be asking, “How then shall I live?” In other words, “What is God saying to me, to my family, to my church and to my community? What is my response to this teaching, this revelation, this unfolding reality before me?”
We need to look far and wide and see what God is doing across the world today. Don’t rely on the mainstream media who are only interested in bringing the bad news – do your research. You will soon find that tens of thousands of people are coming to Christ every week across the world. Some regions and nations are in the grips of a full-on revival as their whole community is transformed by the power of the Spirit of God. We don’t need to be asking if God is moving by His Spirit today, we need to be asking why God may not be moving in our Church, our community or our nation.
When we truly walk by faith and not by sight; when we set our hearts on things above and not things of this world; when we draw near to God and He draws near to us – we will see a whole new world, a whole new Kingdom – the Kingdom of God – where Jesus reins as King and Lord and Redeemer. If you want a larger dose of good news, then I suggest you connect with my teaching series: When the Holy Spirit Moves.