at least these thoughts are coming at a decent hour, unlike the last post. dang insomnia *shaking fist at the heavens*.
i am trying to read through the New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs this year on a reading plan. so far so good. it is just the right pace for me to feel like i am actually digesting what i read, rather than rushing through the reading plan just to mentally check it off for the day.
and even with the slower pace/smaller chunks, i still get behind. so today i am playing a bit of catch up in 1 Corinthians. and these verses really jumped out to me… especially in light of my earlier thoughts on “church” and our current experience of searching for a new church home in maryland.
1 Corinthians 2:4-5: (the context is that Paul is telling the church that he came in total dependence on the Spirit when he came to preach Christ to them)
” … and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, SO THAT [emphasis mine] your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.”
WOW. i don’t know about you, but my experience in church in the recent past has been very much driven by the “wisdom of men” more than the power and Spirit of God. pastors are searched out for their ability to articulate and speak intelligently. they are judged on how well they communicate and how charismatic they come across…. i.e. if they make us oooh, and ahhh at their communication abilities. we walk out of churches because the pastor just “isn’t very engaging.”
i am just speaking from very personal experience here, folks. and i doubt i am the only one.
but i honestly cannot remember a time in the recent past where i walked into a church seeking out the Spirit at work there… seeking to find evidence of the power of God at work in that community (signs, wonders, victorious living, people actually praying for things in faith, believing God for His promises).
i believe our culture and society has conditioned us to think this way… to evaluate everything on merely an intellectual level – even church. i see this even more here in the DC area, where the feverish quest for achievement and “wisdom ” is at an all time high speed pace.
but, as good as wisdom and intellectual achievement is… and as beneficial as it can be, it is clearly not to be the foundation upon which our faith is built. no wonder so many of us jump on various religious bandwagons, are addicted to church hopping etc. as soon as some entertaining, charismatic, intellectual, articulate new preacher or teacher comes along, we gravitate to him/her because they “just communicate soooooo well.”
as paul said, “SO THAT your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.”
we need to readjust our filters. i need to readjust my own.
i long to be part of a community of believers that operate in the power of God on a consistent basis. who share openly with one another and pray fervently for one another, believing and waiting EXPECTANTLY for deliverance, breakthrough, healing, provision etc. i long to be part of a community of believers that go out into their communities and effect change and healing… both supernaturally through the power and spirit of the living God, and naturally, through acts of compassion, kindness and care. i long to be part of a church whose leader(s) strive to submit their intellect to the Spirit and leading of a powerful God. what i wouldn’t give to see a pastor scrap his tidy, well thought out 3 point sermon on sunday morning if God told him to go another direction as the Spirit led him. most of the time, sunday morning services are planned and scheduled to the actual minute (yes, i know this for fact) and god forbid if anyone in the line-up screw up the beauty and flow of the schedule.
and i still have hope in finding a community like that because of i have experienced several in the recent months. not here in maryland but in other states. i know they exist. and i will keep looking for them.
most of us mainstream evangelicals have been conditioned to be wary of signs and wonders… wary of emotions in the church and power encounters. i am done with that. why? it isn’t a biblical mandate. it is a man-made mandate that has been propagated and fueled by a few high profile examples of failure, and a fear of man. sure, there is a place for reason and wise judgement, but my point is that mere human reason and human judgement on an intellectual basis is a sandy foundation for a living, vibrant, enduring faith.
so i am encouraged and challenged this morning to look beyond communication skills, beyond catchy 5 point application point sermons, and search for the work and power of the Spirit of God in a church community first and foremost in this church search.
and i am done thinking deep thoughts for today. i have hit my quota. don’t judge me… i am both a mom and pregnant. there IS a quota these days.