Between You and Me!
Is God really among us? Dick Vanderpyl
A good question!
Got it while reading I Corinthians 14, especially when I came to verses 24 & 25. Supposing that an unbeliever walked into our church, experienced the presence of God in their midst, and exclaimed that God must certainly be among us!
Wouldn't it be wonderful when the prompting of the Holy Spirit drew in outsiders who experienced something which they had never known: the all-knowing, all-powerful God in that church of ours! Wouldn't we dare to say: “Hallelujah, praise the Lord”, and on impulse embrace him or her as a newborn believer? Would we be going too fast on this track of accepting the truth of it?
At a Billy Graham Evangelistic Meeting, one young boy responded to the altar call, came home in the middle of the night, and woke up everybody to tell them the good news. His Mum told him to shut up and go to bed. Next morning at the breakfast table he was asked to tell them what had happened. The sixteen-year-old youngster said: “Never mind, that was last night!”
They Know By What We Show
A well-known activist in the life of the Church in “The Low Lands”, Aart Kamsteeg, once wrote an article in his churches' Office-Bearers' magazine some years ago. His title was, “The Secret of the Living Church”.
Firstly, he says, our identity in the community ought to be impeccable. A common saying was often used: “Tell me who your friends are and I'll tell you who you are!” In the early days of the 20th century, we followed and adored men who had made their mark in Christian politics or in Theology for instance and what about Soccer? The cream of the cream was often worshipped, full stop! Now, we seem to pull them down the ladder for any misdemeanour, instead of giving our encouragement and support.
For a moment, a thought came to me about the need for passports to get us to heaven. It would have no stamps of achievements and exposed sins. Just blank pages; thank goodness! It all goes into the fire! Sorry, I'm sidetracking!
If God is really among us, what is then our identity of a living congregation?
I love Psalm 33's description of the sovereignty of the Lord in Creation and History. Verse 12: Blessed is the nation - the church - whose God is the Lord, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance. Further down, in verse 15, the inspired Psalmist says: “He fashions their (our) hearts individually; He considers all their (our) works ”.
On a church building somewhere in the USA is a sign, which flashes at night: “A Passion for God”. One of the secrets of a living congregation!
Our Brother Kamsteeg came up with five suggestions as manageable pointers or basic assumptions:
1. Remove the prejudices which Christians have as answers from the past and tend to apply to the questions of today. Just remember that the Gospel is also relevant for today's questions of life and death, such as loneliness, doubts, fears, the meaning of life;
2. Continually bring up the matter of unbelief in the preaching of the Word so that worship services have meaning for believers AND unbelievers;
3. Trust that whoever believes in the Holy Spirit WILL be changed. Don't lower your expectations. “The Holy Spirit is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” (Eph. 3:20);
4. Create an atmosphere in your church which makes it easier for outsiders to come into the fellowship:
5. As a congregation, seek possibilities in your own community by means of works of charity and mercy - showing by this the quality of the life of the Lord Jesus.
Could this be - among others - the secret of a Living Church? Try it! Now!