Sick of Statistics
I want to share some things with you to try to express the intensity of the battle that’s raging inside of me. I’m about two-thirds of the way into a forty-day fast right now and the thing that’s driving me more than anything else is that I’m so sick of the statistical, probable, “of the earth” kinds of things that happen in the church world.
As I look around, I see people starting to get some right ideas about relationships and worship and restoring truths rather than just accepting form and ritual. But even with that, there is something inside of me as I go from place to place, that craves to see something undeniably, indisputably God. I want to see something that’s just God and nothing else. It’s not “for” God. It’s not burning incense to appease a God that’s somewhere out there. Rather, it’s something that is absolutely, undeniably God.
For example, Pentecost wasn’t something God “did.” Pentecost was God. God showed up, and there was no denying that. About the first-century church, even in a weak church like Corinth, Paul could say, “When you’re gathered in the name of the Lord and the power of the Lord Jesus is present…” (1 Cor. 5:4) And then later on he spoke of the unbeliever falling on his face and crying out, “God is really among you” (1 Cor. 14:25). God was really doing something! His presence was manifested in a way that couldn’t be disputed.
As I go from place to place, I meet oodles of wonderful saints who love God and want to serve Him and be His people. That’s wonderful and certainly the right position to be in. But even so, there is an element that only God can add as we position ourselves and lay our lives before Him. And that is simply Him. It’s His presence and not something that can be manufactured. You can’t conjure it up with a “hip-hip-hooray” hyper worship leader. You can’t make it happen by having a “dynamic, energetic preacher.” You might feel the fever pitch of the “worship service,” but the end result, generally speaking, is that after you leave, it begins to fade. When you get back to your own house, what are you going to do next? You look around at your neighborhood and you see all these houses and the shopping centers teeming with masses of people. Then what do you do? What’s going to happen next? You are by yourself again, right?
So many people are learning about true worship and about a people that are joined and knit together by every ligament and sinew. We are learning about crucifying the idols, the foolishness, the bitterness, the unforgiveness, and the selfishness that divides us from one another. It’s true that learning and doing those things are paramount to being positioned. But there is something yet remaining that goes beyond statistical probability. Three thousand people baptized in one day wasn’t something that was the predicted, statistical outcome of a fisherman’s unpolished “sermon.” Unlearned and ignorant men don’t just pull off that kind of thing. It was something that God did. It was some way that God met humanity. God somehow joined Himself to the hearts and the prayers of the people that were of one accord in that upper room. That is a pattern in the Old and the New Testament—God somehow meeting man. “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
I just can’t tolerate in my soul any longer seeing things that are statistically probable. There are good people, honest people, sincere people, and people that genuinely love and serve God in places all over the world. And yet so much of it is just “for” God. It’s not “with” God and “in” God. It’s not “In Him and from Him and through Him,” which is the unsearchable riches that Paul speaks of (Rom. 11, Eph. 3). It’s not something that’s obviously Deity.
If we’re going to be honest about it, most things today could be done by a group of atheists that know their Bibles and know the songs. There’s something that really bothers me about that. If it’s just a matter of singing a few songs and studying a few Bible verses, and being honest with each other, then some atheists could do that, right? Can you see that? Similar things happen with the Buddhists and the Muslims. But they are missing something—they are missing the only Wise and True and Living God. So I’m crying out for a testimony of God’s presence, His purpose and His heart—something that is undeniably, indisputably God and can’t be missed.