The Church’s Hope: Life Together
Devotional Though of the Day:
14 Each morning fill us with your faithful love, we shall sing and be happy all our days; 15 let our joy be as long as the time that you afflicted us, the years when we experienced disaster. 16 Show your servants the deeds you do, let their children enjoy your splendour! 17 May the sweetness of the Lord be upon us, to confirm the work we have done! Psalm 90:14-17 (NJB)
Evangelical Christianity is gasping for breath. We happen to have entered a period when it is popular to sing about tears and prayers and believing. You can get a religious phrase kicked around almost anywhere—even right in the middle of a worldly program dedicated to the flesh and the devil.
Old Mammon, with two silver dollars for eyes, sits at the top of it, lying about the quality of the products.… In the middle of it, someone trained in a studio to sound religious will say with an unctuous voice, “Now, our hymn for the week!” So they break in, and the band goes twinkle, twankle, twinkle, twankle, and they sing something that the devil must blush to hear.
They call that religion, and I will concede that religion it is. It is not Christianity, and it is not the Holy Spirit. It is not New Testament and it is not redemption. It is simply making capital out of religion.
Christianity, at least in the West, is still gasping for breath. From my perspective, it needs to catch its breath, to find its “second wind.” Some might think the church is beyond help. Others think spiritual intubation or the shock of a defibrillator might restore life to these wearied saints and the emptying churches.
I think the issue is compounded by COVID and our inability to gather. Pastors are being reduced to online preachers. Their role as commune-icators seems to be reduced to providing monologues. Pastors are called on to produce talks that try to motivate and comfort. Yet they cannot see the sparkling eyes that tell you the gospel has been heard or the body betraying the anxiety of a soul tormented by guilt and shame.
There is no dialogue, no worship, no life together.
We struggle alone, pastors and people separated from each other and feeling separated from God. The expression of the vibrant Christian religion has been replaced by a religious expression that doesn’t see people celebrating in God’s presence.
Tozer saw this in his time; the Psalmist saw the answer to it in his time. We need to be reminded of the Psalmist’s prayer, prayed for “us” the people of God. The answer to vain religion is to see God filling “us.” We need to savor the sweetness of the Lord together, to see Him confirm the work we are doing as we walk together in His presence. That only comes as we see God at work in us, as we know His presence. His presence not just in individual lives, but as He draws all believers into His presence. Not just those who believe now, but those who will come to believe.
This is the hope for the church to be gathered again into His presence and rejoicing in that together. For together, we will savor the sweetness of the Lord.
A. W. Tozer and Marilynne E. Foster, Tozer on the Holy Spirit: A 366-Day Devotional (Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread, 2007).
Posted on February 8, 2021, in Devotionals, Theology in Practice, Tozer and tagged fellowship in Christ, Hope fo rthe church, Ministry together, shrinking churches. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.