So it’s been a while since I’ve had a spiritual dream…a dream that I’ve known was from the Lord. Last night He gave me one, and I woke up with such joy and excitement, refreshed by what He showed me. I’ve been pondering the dream all day and here is my attempt to briefly describe it, and explain it’s significance.
In my dream, I was sitting at a table full of church leaders. They were all discussing ways of “improving church” and making it “more attractive” to outsiders, particularly youth. I have no idea why I was at the table, because I was not contributing to the discussion…just listening. One pastor stated that he felt it was important to make sure the services were “exciting” and that people were “fired up” in order to appeal to unbelievers. Another pastor wanted someone to just give him “6 steps to a healthy church.” Overall, the general consensus among the pastors was that a more charismatic, exciting, signs-and-wonders-focussed church would be guaranteed to bring about the desired spiritual growth in their congregations. After all, that’s what people want, is it not? …the excitement of a really emotional, out-of-this-world, supernatural experience, right?
As I sat at the table, I was overcome with the love of God for these men and their congregations. They genuinely wanted what was best for those they were leading. They wanted to know God. And they wanted others to know Him.
Suddenly, one of the pastors turned, looked at me, and said to his peers, “Well, Bec and her husband have experience with this…they’ve seen young people coming to Christ…their church is alive and full of joy…there are people of all ages, and young people want to go to their church….they must be doing something right. Let’s ask them!”
Suddenly all eyes were fixed on me. And, as they waited expectantly, I began to weep with the weight of the response God had given me for these men…not a sad weight, but a glorious weight.
As I opened my mouth, I felt what the disciples must have felt when they experienced Jesus’ words to them for the first time, “…it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” (Matt. 10:20).
Here is what I said (to the best of my recollection):
“Jesus will be glorified in your churches when He is proclaimed as the Saviour of sinners.
I can’t give you ‘6 steps to success’ or tell you what we’ve been ‘doing right’ because it’s not about us. We’re a bunch of imperfect people who have put our faith in a perfect Saviour and, as we hold Him out to others, they are putting their faith in Him too. ”
I then shared with them the following verses from Luke 10:17-20,
The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” 18 And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.
So these 72 disciples experienced some pretty exciting stuff. They had power over demons, and Jesus told them they would have power over the enemy, and nothing would hurt them! Talk about supernatural, exciting and out-of-this-world, right? Yet Jesus brings them back to the heart of their faith and the source of their rejoicing: that their names are written in heaven. How are our names written in heaven? How do broken, sinful people stand in the presence of a blameless, holy God and be considered worthy? 2 Cor. 5:20-21 puts it this way, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Isn’t that glorious? Our joy and the most exciting thing ever, the reason we rejoice, is because Jesus Christ takes our sin and gives us His righteousness. Jesus saves sinners and gives us true, satisfying life forever in Him.
All that Jesus accomplished on the cross must be the foundation, the centre and the focus of the church. Yes, it’s nice to have a sweet worship band and I’m sure the new people do enjoy the coffee that’s offered at the front door, but at the end of the day, what are we holding out to people? Are we offering them excitement for excitement’s sake? Are we making false promises of a life free from suffering if only they will come to Jesus? Are we providing a setting that facilitates emotional hype and a form of spirituality that is rooted in little more than fleeting human feelings? Yes, Jesus does heal. Yes, Jesus gives awesome spiritual experiences to His children. Yes, we must strive for excellence in our worship and other areas of ministry. But this is not what we ultimately pursue or what we make central.
Speaking of His death on the cross, Christ said, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” What draws people to Jesus is not our programs or our performances, our formulas or our spiritual excitement…it’s the glory of the gospel: a sinless, crucified and risen Lord.
I’ve seen lives changed by this truth. I’ve seen those who were once dead in their sin come alive in Jesus…those who were bound as captives set free, like prisoners released from darkness. I am one of those captives-set-free…one of those lives-made-new.
So I say again what I said to those pastors in my dream: Jesus will be glorified in our churches when He is proclaimed as the Saviour of sinners.
This really is enough. Jesus really is enough. His gospel really is the “good news” people need, and we don’t need to “amp it up” to make it more appealing.
From now through all of eternity, Jesus will be primarily known, not as Healer or Provider or Ruler or Teacher, etc. (although He is all these things and MORE!), but as “the Lamb who was slain” (Rev. 5:12). I pray that our churches would be places where Christ is worshiped as the Saviour of sinners…places where the glory of His gospel is held out with unwavering faith in His ability to make His enemies His friends.
He has done it. He can do it. He will do it.