Saturday, June 28, 2014

WE ARE IN TROUBLE by Jim Cymbala

I say we are in trouble and it is high time to wake up! With some exceptions, the Church of today is like the church at Laodicea. In fact, we have so institutionalized Laodiceanism that we think that lukewarm is normal. Any church winning more than a few people to Christ is considered “outstanding.”

The stern words of Jesus apply to us as much as to the Christians at the end of the first century: “You are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing’” (Revelation 3:15-17). In other words, they were voicing a wonderful “positive confession.” They were proclaiming victory and blessing. The only trouble was, Jesus was unimpressed. He responded:

“But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. . . . Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent” (Rev. 3:17, 19).

Strong language, to be sure, but Jesus always deals strongly with those He loves. “What son is not disciplined by his father?” asks the writer of Hebrews (12:7).

Notice that the Laodiceans were saints of God, with all the promises to claim. They were part of Christ’s Body—singing hymns, worshiping on Sundays, enjoying physical benefits, and no doubt viewing themselves as more righteous than their pagan neighbors. Yet they were on the verge of being vomited out. What a wake-up call!

Whenever the body of Christ gets into trouble, strong action is required. We cannot merely sit by and hope the problem will resolve itself.

The early Church began dynamically in power. They were unified, prayerful, filled with the Holy Spirit, going out to do God’s work in God’s way, and seeing results that glorified Him.

Then came the first attack (see Acts 4:2-3). How did they respond? They quickly began to pray in this way:

“Sovereign Lord . . . you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. . . . Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus” (Acts 4:24, 29-30).

This is precisely what the prophets down through the centuries had told them to do: When under attack, when facing a new challenge, in all seasons, in all times, call on the name of the Lord, and He will help you.

Jim Cymbala began Brooklyn Tabernacle with less than twenty members in a small, rundown building in a difficult part of the city. A native of Brooklyn, he is a longtime friend of both David and Gary Wilkerson and a frequent speaker at the Expect Church Leadership Conferences sponsored by World Challenge throughout the world.