Jesus walked among them. He taught not as the scribes, but taught with authority. He walked on water and raised the dead. But according to Mark 15:39, it was not until the Centurion, “saw how he [Jesus] died,” that the Centurion recognized the Presence of God.
We can be the most gifted speaker we know; the hardest worker or the most faithful servant in our church… but it is the manner of how we daily lay down our life, that people will recognize the presence of God in us. Think of it; Do you attribute the title of a, “Godly man” more to a great preacher, or to those who love and serve unconditionally? A dilemma in our churches today is that there are Christians who are trying to show Christ to a world through giftings and programs without the inconvenience of having to lay down their lives. Is it a wonder we seem to struggle so much in this area?
There is a plague in the land. People wrapped in chains wandering a desert wasteland, trying hard to move forward but unable to; not knowing why. Wondering why “God” cannot do anything about it. Anyone with a shred of spiritual discernment can feel it, even if they cannot explain it. The cause of the plague is unresolved issues and sin. The question has to be asked, “Do we honestly believe that we can have unresolved issues like this in our lives, and NOT have it effect the whole?” Consider Achan; You remember… the guy who buried forbidden things under his tent. Never before had Israel suffered defeat. Now they send a handful of men to take a little town, and thirty-six of them are struck down. Did Achan deliberately hide the truth? Or did he just not put two and two together?
Do we deliberately hide the truth, or do we just not put it together? There is carnage in our churches amongst our brothers and sisters. People leave, people get put out and we think it for the best that they go. If we consider individuals being wrapped in chains and a church that seems to have no ability to move forward being “best”, then I suppose that must be true.
I would like to propose a better way… actually God proposed it first… Reconciliation. It is the heartbeat of God Himself. What was the point of Jesus if not to reconcile wayward man to His Heavenly Father? It is the greatest of the commandments… Love the Lord your God and love your neighbour as youself. If we blow it on these two, why are we even attempting to do anything else?
I point out a couple of other scriptures; Matthew 6:15 says, “But if you do not forgive men their sins, your father will not forgive your sins (NIV).” Does this REALLY need more explanation? The kicker is Matthew 5:23 “If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” This tells me I should not even waste my time (or God’s time) by giving my financial gift in the plate, or as far as I am concerned, trying to “offer” God our worship and praise while there are unresolved issues in our life. The fact is, God will not receive it.
So what is the answer? 2 Chronicles 7:14 states, “If my people. who are called by my name, will humble themselves…” It begins with humbling ourselves. Not giving an explanation, not justifying or giving excuses or saying it is easier this way. Explanations and justifications will not heal the land… humility will. “If they humble themselves and pray and seek my face…” We need to recognize that when we “sin” against one another, that we first are sinning against God. Based upon what Jesus teaches in Matthew 25:45, if we do not offer forgiveness, or “do” reconciliation, we first are not offering or doing unto Christ. We need to seek the face of God and ask His forgiveness first. Then thirdly, and most importantly, we need to, “turn from our wicked ways.” It is not enough to humbly recognize the part we have played in the carnage and plague in the land. It is not enough to seek the face of our God and ask His forgiveness. Where the healing of the land and the beginning of new growth starts is when we pick up the phone, we hop in the car, we do everything in our power and the strength of our God to correct that which was made wrong.
It begins with you and me. No excuses, no justifying; Let us together end the plague in the land so that people can be free again and the church can move forward.