A few weeks ago, I heard a Christian leader share that there was a movement of people wanting to go back to the “old ways.” He justified this statement by telling of the current trend of churches in his area that are purchasing pipe organ extensions to place on keyboards. While I am unconcerned as to what type of instruments you may prefer to be played during your local church’s worship time, I cannot help but wonder about the truth of his statement. Is it really that folks are wanting the sound of a pipe organ over a keyboard, or could it be that there is something much deeper in the longing?
Perhaps what they are really longing for in a gathering of Christians is not so much a particular sound as it is a Presence. A Presence that manifests Himself in unconditional love and transformed lives. Could it be that the real thing missing in the lives of many of today’s Christians is not so much the absence of a particular style of worship or rituals, as much as it is an authenticity toward living a LIFEstyle consistent with the Gospel?
You don’t have to look further than most Christian families in America to see that our influence over the culture is becoming absorbed by the culture itself. The statistics themselves attest to the alarmingly high rates of divorce and infidelity among believers. Work ethics of Christians are not proportionally higher than anyone else’s. Our busy lives are just as full of extracurricular activities that pull us away from each other. And our morality is slipping day by day as we tolerate behaviors without truth.
Perhaps saddest of all, our power to overcome the frustrations of life seems just as diminished as that of the regular Joe next door.
Where is the abundant life of which Jesus was talking?
Where is the sacrificial living?
Where is the Christian who will go the second mile when he has only been asked to walk one?
Where is the power that is supposed to make all things new?
I believe that what people are looking for is not so much a return to the “old” ways as it is to finding a real relationship with lasting impact. Now, I’m not trying to set up a legal list of dos and don’ts concerning Kingdom living. (Obviously that did not work out for the scribes and pharisees, so why not learn from their mistakes?) Nor am I suggesting you live aloof from others for fear of being corrupted by a sinful nature. In fact, I believe quite the opposite to be true — it’s time to get messy for Jesus.
All throughout Scripture, you will find Jesus hanging out with “sinful” people, those who were considered the “unworthy” ones, the “outcasts,” the “less-than-desirables.” But Jesus didn’t party with folks to no avail. He impacted lives by His presence.
He lived in a way that drew others to Himself — in a style that the disciples were called to emulate. In a style that we are called to emulate. A style that changes lives.
But this type of living takes devotion. It takes intentional choices.
It requires a removal of self and an invitation to let Jesus come in without stipulations or restraints.
It takes a purposefulness in choosing God’s way over our own so that He may increase in us in startling ways.
Ways that are different than simply listening to a pipe organ pound out hymns of praise.
Ways that challenge us to rise up and pound the love out of life even as we offer ourselves to be poured out for others.
Real Christianity is an offering.
It’s placing ourselves at another’s disposal, even at the cost of our own inconvenience.
It’s loving enough to risk being hurt.
It’s living open-handedly enough that we are assured of being taken advantage of, yet living beyond caring that we are.
Real life in Jesus is dwelling in a state of continual metamorphosis.
Allowing the old life to be overcome.
Bit by bit.
It’s choosing to clothe ourselves with the garments of praise as we put on the characteristics of Christ.
One thought at a time.
In a way that is noticeable.
It’s a journey that will take a lifetime of REAL living with REAL people in REAL circumstances that stretch us beyond ourselves and our own power time and again as we rely upon a REAL SAVIOR…
All the way to eternity.