You may have already addressed this, but say we have been given responsibility over people wherever we are, either God’s given us responsibility or we found ourselves in a position of responsibility over people. How do we address a feeling of “They may not be ready for this,” or “should it continue on with planting seeds,” is that the route we need to take, or is it “this is where things need to change.” In a roundabout way you answered it, but in a more concise way to respond to that directly that feeling of “I don’t know if they are ready yet.”
That opens up an important issue about really what Christianity is. One of the reasons we’ve had so many problems in the Christian world is we have not defined Christianity the way Jesus has. We have kind of gone over the years and sort of altered things to the extent where I’ve had a lot of pastors tell me that they honestly believe half of the people in their congregation are not even saved. They know them, that’s their assessment of it, not mine, and they are probably right. That’s their flock. Those are the people they relate to and are responsible for and are going to give an account for. If that’s what they say, more than likely there is some truth to it. They would be in a position to know that.
Now you are in a situation where God has given you some light about what Church can be. In fact what God’s heart is that it must be and if half of your “congregation” isn’t even saved, you do have a problem on your hands, because I guarantee you that people that have not really given their life to Jesus, they have kind of a belief system approach to it all, or they have inherited from their parents, but they haven’t had their own personal encounter with a living God that has dropped them to their knees like John like a dead man, they haven’t had their own encounter with God, if half the congregation hasn’t had that kind of encounter with God, they are going to despise a kind of church that takes their life away from them. Guess what? Now I have to evaluate all that I do. From my family vacation to little league to guitar lessons and violin lessons and piano lessons to how many hours a week I work to what kind of house I live in to where my money goes and my children and this and that. I have to look at a lot of things in my life, if it’s my life I am giving away instead of just my Sunday morning. I have to look pretty hard at that.
How do I feel when someone calls me at 2:00 in the morning with a flat tire broken down someplace? Do I grumble about it when I hang up the phone, or do I, as unto the Lord rejoice in an opportunity to store up treasure in heaven? How do I view it? And if I grumble, does someone say, “Hey, you’re grumbling. The destroyer, we read in 1 Cor. 10, destroyed those that grumbled in the wilderness. You don’t want to grumble, do you?” The ability to talk about all of those things, openly and freely every single day is not very attractive to a person that is not saved. If they don’t want to give their life to Jesus, they are not at all interested in the kind of Church that we are talking about--to walk in the light every day, to grow into the measure of the fullness of the stature of the Son of God because we have opened up our lives and our heart on a daily basis to the people of God and to the Spirit of God for refining. That is not attractive to a person that wants to live for themselves, that’s saturated with and addicted to self-life. It’s just not attractive. So you are going to end up with a problem on your hands if that’s how you define church in the first place, that it’s okay to be a member of this church even though you are not saved, if that’s how you define it in the first place, you will have problems if you get some Light about what Church is supposed to be.
That shouldn’t scare you all that much, because now maybe that half that have been content for the last 25 years sitting in that pew have a fighting chance of finding Jesus because now there is introduced into their life a whole new set of circumstances that is very intimidating and frustrating to them. I would rather have that 50% angry with me than I would have them sit there smiling at me and shaking my hand at the back door on the way out. I would much rather have them angry. So basically, I’m not a real big believer in spending the next 15 years trying to gradually go on in little baby steps. If I was in leadership as the brother suggested in one of those situations, I wouldn’t be inclined to take the next 20 years to introduce some little programs and some neat ideas and preach a 48 week sermon series, etc. to try to wean them into it. Frankly, it’s not going to work anyway.