On just about a weekly basis, I hear from readers of our newspaper and listeners to the radio program who share with me their sadnesss about feeling all alone in their faith. As more and more of the institutional churches all around the world today become increasingly liberal in their practices and theology, and fewer and fewer pastors are courageous enough to preach the WHOLE Word of God anymore — or show any respect to the dear senior saints in the church —(those who have studied, learned and walked with the Lord for decades) — they all have the same dilemma: it’s becoming ever more difficult for them to find a true body of Christ followers — in other words, a true, Biblical CHURCH to attend and be a part of. And it’s not just the “senior saints” either — even younger believers are struggling to find a church home with preachers and teachers who are interested in studying the deeper areas of Scripture or in GOING OUT and DOING the Kingdom work the Lord commanded us all to do. They’re seeking TRUE Christianity — that which is filled with the power and might and glory of God and the Holy Spirit. They want desperately to put their faith to work, into ACTION. But instead, they get “self help talks,” coffee and donuts, rock band concerts and social events designed to be “fun,” but offering next to nothing in the way of spiritual growth and Biblical education. Not to mention, any sort of “call to action” or Spiritual Battle Plan to reach the lost and perishing.
As a result, many have dropped out of church altogether. Some have started home church meetings, but all who contact me have one thing in common: they are LONELY. They feel all alone in a world gone mad, the churches in their areas having gone off the rails into liberalism and the social justice movement, with no interest in anything of any significance. They feel as if they are the only ones who still yearn for the real MEAT of the Word of God, or have a desire to go out and make disciples and share the Gospel — and they have no one with whom to share fellowship, brotherhood or sisterhood.
I feel their sorrow. I know firsthand, just how shallow the “fellowship” in many churches truly is. Oftentimes it’s no more than a couple seconds of handshaking during “Turn and Greet Your Neighbor Time” in the midst of a Sunday service. Oh, there are still plenty who love the social times — the potlucks and picnics and game nights and get-togethers held frequently… but this is not what THESE folks long for. They want something significant; something worthy of their time. They long for BROTHERHOOD, they long for SISTERHOOD. They long for a church FAMILY. Such a thing is very RARE nowadays, sadly.
I’ve just returned from Montana where I organized a Christian Conference for those who are tired of the vain religion found in most churches today. The Conference was for those who want more — they want REAL Christianity… “Book-of-ACTS” type of Christianity, where they are directly involved in ACTIVE ministry, outside the four walls of a church. They’re not looking to simply serve as a church “usher,” or as one of the men who passes the collection plate on Sunday morning. They’re looking to be discipled and then learn how to make disciples themselves.
They’re also VERY aware of all the evil in this world. They understand that “we wrestle NOT against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” They understand there’s a spiritual battle for the hearts, minds and souls all around us, and they want to get engaged in that battle, for the glory of God. It is, after all WHAT WE ARE HERE FOR! In their local “churches” they never have this opportunity. The church doesn’t teach on these matters, and, in fact, barely even acknowledge vital areas of Scripture like this one, found in Ephesians 6. It’s one of those vital areas of Christian doctrine that was — at one time — considered ESSENTIAL — but today, it’s become one of those areas that is conveniently “skipped over” by most.
I say I understand the sorrow these folks have because I’ve been there too… I grew up in the church and I know just how shallow the relationships in most churches really are. And they’re shallow because it’s rare to find “Christian Soldiers” in American “churchianity” today. I liken it to the bond that is created amongst a “band of brothers” fighting on the battle field in wartime…. your comrades in arms “have your back” and you have theirs, and you become actually CLOSER than a brother under such battlefield conditions. THIS is where we need to be as we fight the enemy of our souls and his demons… because the spiritual battles are always more intense than the physical ones we face.
But there is no spiritual warfare training or spiritual “bootcamp” in most churches today, much less any opportunity ever to take ones’ faith out of the seats and into the streets. And since church congregations never learn to serve the Lord on the spiritual battlefield together, such deep and lasting bonds of brotherhood and sisterhood are never formed. Most church relationships are mere “niceties” — not much more than acknowledging someone with a nod of the head, a handshake or a pasted-on smile. There’s no depth.
I know this because I lived this for about 50 years of my life in church. Oh, people were “friendly,” but there were no deep bonds of brotherhood. And then some time ago, by the grace of God, I came to learn about the REAL Christian life. As I was discipled and trained up by men of God who did street ministry, and then taught how to go out and do it myself, my eyes were opened to what is REALLY required of us as Christ-followers. It’s not just to simply attend weekly services or serve within the church’s weekly programming. We are ALL called to GO OUTSIDE the church building — and be the salt and light of the world. I admit, I was pretty apprehensive about doing this the first time I did it… let’s be honest: I was scared. But once you step out of the four walls of a church, and begin to witness to others, share your testimony and speak the Word of God in PUBLIC, all fear immediately vanishes. It happened with me, and I’ve seen it happen with EVERYONE who has dared go with me ever since. No longer was I “fearful and unbelieving” of what Jesus said — truly, He IS with us, every time we go out and everywhere we go. We have ministered together at abortion centers, at “pride” parades and festivals and many other places. YES! OUT IN PUBLIC! OUTSIDE the church buildings! Whoever heard of such a thing??! What crazy radicals we all must be!! Actually, this is EXACTLY the work Jesus commanded us ALL to be doing, as we occupy until He returns.
Having worked alongside these brothers and sisters in Christ for several years now, in multiple cities across the United States, I have also, for the FIRST TIME, discovered deep, intimate fellowship and friendship and brotherly love — the kind you read about in Scripture. We’ve been engaged in Spiritual Warfare together — going out and confronting evil together, sharing the Good News of the Gospel, together. And we have grown to love one another. It took me 50 years to find real, true Christian brothers and sisters. TRUE Christian love.
These are the true remnant believers in Christ, and yes, they live all over the country — all over the world. And I have no doubt that I could call on any one of them for ANYTHING and they would always be there for me; and I for them. THAT is true brotherly love. What a joy when you find such intimacy, together in Christ. And what a CONTRAST between relationships like THAT and those shallow “head-nods” and “handshakes” MOST church-goers get once a week. Truly, it is the difference between the GENUINE and the FAKE. And I am greatly blessed and deeply thankful the Lord has brought me to a place where I have such a “church family,” because this IS the TRUE Church of the Living God. It’s how God meant it to be.
So as I said, several of us just returned from Montana. We organized and hosted a Christian Conference for some of those lonely saints — sheep HUNGRY for that same type of truth, that same type of purpose, that same type of brotherly love with a band of brothers and sisters in Christ. Just like everywhere we go to minister, the folks we met in Montana felt as if they were all alone… and they WERE. But what a JOY to go, and “plant a flag in the ground” there for JESUS! What a joy to meet these saints of God, share our ministries with them…. and help them organize and come together in unity for service to Christ.
Our Conference included myself as one of the speakers, along with speakers from Ohio and Minnesota. It was a long trip. It was an expensive trip. It took a great deal of time and energy and work. But what ENCOURAGEMENT we were able to bring to our new friends there! Where previously there were multiple individuals all feeling as if they were the “only ones” — now there is new cohesive GROUP of Christ-followers, with an ACTION PLAN to BE the salt and light, to GO and be DOERS of the Word and not just hearers only. As we gathered together for study and prayer and worship over three days there, we bonded together as co-laborers for Christ. And when we left to return home, amidst many hugs and sorrowful goodbyes, we KNEW we had set a spark in that part of the country that the Lord will fan into a flame, for HIS glory!
We did not go to plant another “church.” God forbid. We went to teach, disciple and train, and to help connect the lonely saints and to show THEM how to GO and DO, as Jesus commanded. Just the same way, that at one time, someone ELSE showed us. They were thankful and grateful for us being there. Like me, many years ago, they never knew such TRUE Christianity existed. All they knew of was the stagnant, vain, powerless “CHURCHIANITY” they’d grown up with and grown so used to — the stuff they had become so frustrated with that they’d given up hope of ever finding other, like-minded Christ-followers to labor alongside and with whom they could bear one another’s burdens.
But the fact of the matter is, God has His remnant people all over this nation. The modern American churches and pastors can call us “radicals” and “crazies” all they want, but I have to wonder: when did it become so “radical” and “crazy” to actually DO what the Bible TELLS us to do?!
Let’s close with a few words from the writer of Hebrews: “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering, for He is faithful that promised. And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works. Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another, and so much more, as we see the day approaching.”
Yes, we must hold onto our faith. God is faithful and He keeps His promises to us. I find it interesting that the writer, here, uses the word “provoke,” in stating we should “provoke” one another to love and good works… in other words, we should not be content sitting in the pews once a week, and doing nothing more, but rather, we should be CHALLENGING (or PROVOKING) one another to go deeper in our faith, to live out our faith, and to perform good works…. Good WORKS as opposed to NO works, or perhaps worse yet, “VAIN” WORKS of entertainment, handing out candy when we should be interceding for the most innocent among us, standing in the gap for widows and orphans; speaking TRUTH into the lives of those who have been deceived by the devil and his demons… EVEN IF, and perhaps ESPECIALLY IF they find the truth offensive.
And yes, we must “assemble ourselves together.” That doesn’t just mean going to church. It means creating bonds of brotherly love, and then learning how to utilize each of the gifts the members of the Body of Christ have been given — all the parts assembled into an efficient, WORKING Body. Each with a unique and special purpose, created and designed by God to be His hands and feet in this world…. once again, occupying until He comes… serving as a restraining force against evil — and even moreso as we see the day of His return drawing closer. And when that day comes, I pray He finds us all busy, doing the work we’ve been called to do.
If you are one of the lonely out there, and have a desire to do more, to BE more, to fulfill the purpose God has for YOU in His kingdom as an ACTIVE member, as a Christian soldier in this spiritual battle we’re in the middle of — if you want to join with other, like-minded SERIOUS Christians who have a desire to serve our King, feel free to contact me and no matter where you are in the country, we will help you. You are NOT alone. There are MANY out there just like you — and though God’s faithful, remnant believers may be few in number, they are everywhere, and when we are obedient to His call, it doesn’t matter if there are only a few… because wherever two or three are gathered in His name, there HE is, in the midst of them. Amen.
Audio CDs and transcripts of this message are available when you call me at Wisconsin Christian News, (715) 486-8066. Or email Rob@WisconsinChristianNews.com and ask for message number 269.
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