It is becoming nearly trendy to have issues with the Western church. It's no new thing. Maybe it seems louder because of the connectivity of our generation. People are worn out by traditionalism, empty religion, and compromised leadership—the stories have no end.
We're sitting in a generational exodus. It's not a departure from Egypt—it's from the church. They don't mind leaving (they've been provided plenty of valid reasons), and further, they don't mind voicing why they're leaving. The generational gap continues to grow while both sides grow in frustration, feeling neither heard nor understood by the other. One viral article lays out the statistics of unengaged young Christians in church, while another viral op-ed highlights with excruciating insight the deficiencies promoted by its institutionalization. The cycle rages on.
The boiling cultural landscape of race and gender, scandal and expose are only accelerating the angst. The strain is increasing; the feeling is that something must be done, and it must be done quickly. With the enormity of these challenges bearing down on the body of Christ (especially in the West)—the crisis of generational disconnect, the crisis of unengaged youth, the crisis of soul—we must ask what is the solution?
David, when confronted by enormous pressure, sings: "I will lift up my eyes to the hills, from where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth" (Ps. 121:1-2).
God is inviting His people to lift their eyes upward. This is called faith. He wants the fixed gaze of His people. When confronted with unresolvable issues, what other option do we really have? What if the issues within the church were issues related to faith in what God says and sees about her?
The Church—God's Agent in the Earth
We must address an issue here: God leads differently than we do. Let's not forget that God has chosen simple and seemingly foolish things to put to shame the so-called wisdom of the world and its ways (1 Cor. 1:26–28). Any solutions born of the flesh will be offended by the plans of God. The whole plan of God is a setup. Humanity and the powers that be are being set up to be absolutely stunned by the unimaginable wisdom of God. The only way this happens is if their plans come to absolute ruin, while His plans exceed all expectation.
The ultimate purpose is that Christ would be glorified and no one would be able to boast (1 Cor. 1:29). Here are three reasons I believe God chose the church to be His agent of glory in the earth:
To Display His Glory to Them
"Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am" (John 17:24b) where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me."(John 17:24).
As a royal priesthood, granted access through the blood and filled with the Holy Spirit, we behold the glory of God in the face of Christ (1 Pet. 2:9; Eph.1:13, 2:18; 2 Cor. 4:6). The glory of God isn't restricted to His character or moral perfection, it's also the beauty of His plans and purposes. As we see His person, we delight in His actions. In other words, as we see Him with a spirit of revelation (Eph. 1:17), we gain faith for His people, the church.
To Display His Glory among Them
As the church beholds the glory of the resurrected Lord, they begin to see each other as God sees them. Brotherly love is not the outcome of more social gatherings—it's the result of a spirit of revelation working through each of us as we behold one another: "
This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you" (John 15:12, MEV).
This verse challenges us. Every church member wants to be loved and for the most part wants to love another person; however, the challenge Jesus poses here is that the church would love one another as—in the same way—Jesus loves us.
This is a different category of love. The love that Christ bestowed upon humanity was not just a sentimental love or a morally good love, it was a divine love. There is no way for the Christian to love another in this way without the help of God.
To Display His Glory through Them
We were designed to look up in vision and then look out in mission. Father has ordained that the witness of His precious Son would be proclaimed through the church. There is no other vessel God has chosen. The church is the primary organism through which the life of Christ would awaken the spiritually dead. Listen to the magnitude of Jesus' words: "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8).
After the cross, of all the ways that the Creator could have chosen to continue, He Himself chose that it would be through His body. When it comes to the plan of God, there is only one sure outcome—He will be glorified. Everyone will look on at His plan and say, "You did it; unbelievable."
If this is true, it certainly doesn't take a lightning-strike epiphany to realize the enemy's strategy to undermine, discredit and disband the church. As it becomes increasingly challenging to navigate through the minefields of the religious/social/political pressures, I believe we are in an hour where the church must be reminded of who God is in order to rightly understand who she is.
Pray for the church: God, let me see what you see, let me feel what you feel.
Isaac Bennett and his wife, Morgan, are full-time intercessory missionaries who serve at the International House of Prayer of Kansas City, Missouri. They have five children. Isaac is the director of Student Ministries and Awakening Teen Camps; he is also an instructor at the International House of Prayer University. The Bennetts' heart is to see day-and-night prayer established across the earth and the next generation called into wholehearted love for Jesus.
This article originally appeared at ihopkc.org.
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