I have turned off the radio and have been listening to my play list. It is a large list and it includes all kinds of songs. So yesterday I was caught a little off guard when I heard Steve Green...a song that some may feel is a little behind the times, one that I can't remember the last time it came up from my shuffle list. The style may be out of date but the words rang true to me and I ended up in my garage after parking my van just singing at the top of my lungs. (you just can't get that same concentrated sound anywhere else) His song is "We Believe"...
..."We believe in the Spirit, Who makes believers one. Our hearts are filled with His presence, the Comforter has come. His kingdom unfolds in His plan, unhindered by quarrels of man. His church upheld by His hand. We believe."The words rang out to me and reminded me of many things probably most importantly the time I spent last fall before Christmas in the book of Ephesians and how I have prayed for unity in His body for so long. Paul reveals the mystery that is His church, a mixture of all people who believe, every kind...Jews, Gentiles, young, old, men, women and of every color according to His gift of grace.
Ephesians 4:1-7 Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is ONE body and ONE Spirit, just as also you were called in ONE hope of your calling; ONE Lord, ONE faith, ONE baptism, ONE God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.Oh how we all have too much of ourselves in us. I fight it every day. To remember that His plan is unhindered by our quarrels here on earth, I turn to the Comforter and He reminds me of all the things that He promises. His church is upheld by His hand. I recently saw a quote online that said "Christianity is one generation away from extinction". I know His promises and I know that this is far from true.
The very church that Paul was writing to, on fire for the work of the Lord would face a warning from Jesus Himself in Revelation 2:
v. 4-5 "But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lamp stand out of its place - unless you repent.What were the things that Jesus saw as strengths for this church who had fallen? Here is the list I complied from verses 1-3:
- your toil and perseverance
- they can not tolerate evil men
- they put to the test those who call themselves apostles, finding them to be false
- endured for the sake of Christ
- have not grown weary
But they left their first love...eventually, they stopped doing those things and the church there in Ephesus died, the lamp stand was removed.
Why do I use this as an example? Because although this one church did not repent, Christianity is NOT one generation from extinction. Jesus told Peter in Matthew 16:18 "I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of hell will not prevail against it." Jesus is not looking away and oops...what has happened to My church? He is "The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lamp stands". To the church at Pergamum He is "the One who has the sharp two-edged sword"
His church will always be. In fact, the kingdom of this world will become the "Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ". Handel knew the promises of Jesus to his church too when he wrote the Messiah. These promises are never out of date will always be in style. Thankfully they can be held tightly to when the winds of doubt and fear can sometimes shake us to the core.
So I thank the Holy Spirit, my Comforter for reminding, and for drawing me into His Word to remember my first love. To pour over and study and live in my first love. He can remove His lamp stand from A church, but He will never leave HIS church.
The beauty of the Steve Green song, and my very favorite part is what makes me thankful.
"Though the earth be removed and time be no more, these truths are secure, God's Word shall endure. Whatever may change, these things are sure...we believe. So if the mountains are cast down into the flame, when kingdoms all crumble, this one remains, our faith is not subject to seasons of men with our fathers we proclaim: We believe our Lord will come as He said, the land and the sea will give up their dead. His children will reign with Him as their head...we believe."There are far too many who have forgotten that He is coming again. This is not our home. Our hearts ache not because of the things that happen in this earthly place, and when they do, we need to remember...it is our home we are longing for. Do we have an eternal perspective when we face the littleness of our trials and tribulations? Littleness? Yes...car problems are little compared to my God, three people with the flu for two weeks is little compared to my God, disputes between family and friends are little compared to my God, and YES, cancer is little compared to my BIG GOD.
No, I am not fretful about my church, my family, my life here on earth. Because "the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us...the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God." No, Christianity is not going to become extinct so I am not worried that my God will somehow NOT call all of those to Him in His time. I pray every day and trust Him for my part in His plan to do so.