Igniting Ministries--A Wake Up Call
In reflecting about Christian hospitality and the Igniting Ministry, I
wrote the following article.
Igniting Ministries--A Wake Up Call
I recently heard a fellow pastor refer to the Igniting Ministry as a wake up call to the Church. I agree completely.
Jesus said that by our love, people would know that we are his disciples. Several NT verses speak of the importance of genuine Christian love within the local congregation. The first verse of Hebrews 13 is a call to love one another. The next two verses exhort us to love strangers and those in need. I hear these three verses saying the following to us today, "If the relationships with a congregation are angry, tense, irritable, out of biblical balance, and otherwise not loving, then strangers, and those in need are in trouble. They will not find the healthy Christ-like love that the whole NT calls us to demonstrate in attitude and in action."
What do you consider the greatest scandal of the American Church within our lifetime? Was it the scandals of the TV evangelists several years ago? Is it the increased interest in non-Christian religions? Is it the decrease of values and morality in society? Is it the challenges of our present economy? No, as Robert Moeller wrote in 1994 in his book, Love In Action, The well-publicized televangelist scandals of the late eighties did minimal harm to the reputation of the church in our culture-that is, in comparison to the true scandal of our time. The true scandal is the way Christians mistreat one another, fighting and conducting uncivil wars against one another in churches across our nation.
Some Christians today live as if nothing else matters as long as they had some religious experience years ago. They feel free about holding onto their bitterness and resentment along with sowing ill-will and dissension among the people around them. Neither do they have a problem about being selfish, petty, and demanding, creating havoc at home, church, and at work. They confidently hope God is like an indulgent grandfather. They are betting that the Bible's portrays the God as a consuming fire is not true. However, the closing verses in Hebrews 12, the Book of Revelation, and the rest of Scripture does not paint such a naively, optimistic view.
Bitterness and resentment are endemic in too many congregations. Where resentments are nursed, all kinds of evil act is possible, and the love of God cannot survive. While the danger of bitterness hardening our hearts is a personal spiritual issue, the danger of resentment threatens the loving fellowship of a church. When this happens, we have forgotten our Christian baptism. It symbolizes that in Jesus Christ we have died to living for ourselves and have risen to live for Jesus Christ.
The Bible tells us about a wake up call given to the early church at the end of the first century. The book of Revelation portrays Jesus Christ standing amidst the churches with fiery eyes examining their faith according to the measure of their love for God and others.
Biblically speaking, the fiery eyes of our risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ continues to scan the churches of each country, county, and community of God's world. Jesus wonders if he will find faith on earth upon his return. He knows the love of many will grow cold because of sin hardened, embittered, unforgiving, hearts.
Jesus is looking for faith filled churches whose love for God and others is not lukewarm. Jesus is looking for faithful churches who have not left their first love for God, each other, the stranger and those in need. He tells lukewarm churches that he feels like throwing up and calls them to repent. He warns those who have left their first love like the church at Ephesus that unless they repent, he will take their lamp stand for God is a consuming fire. The good news is that as the Ephesian church heard Jesus' words calling them to repent, churches are returning to their first love Jesus Christ.
Other congregations have acquired the fire of God's love afresh so that they are no longer lukewarm in their love for God and others.
As he did in the book of Revelation, Jesus is encouraging the faithful to keep on for their labor of love in the Lord is not in vain. May the cry of our hearts be "Lord I want to be a Christian, Lord I want to be more loving in my heart." May God's love divine descend upon our hearts and set our hearts aflame a new with love for God, for each other, for strangers and for those in need. May we serve God acceptably by holy, Christ-like, loving attitudes, actions, and words toward each other, strangers, and those in need for our God is a consuming fire.
By Reverend Dr. John M.
Crowe, D.Min., A.P.C.
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