Tuesday, February 15, 2011

God Makes Do

"The biblical fact is there are no successful churches.  There are, instead, communities of sinners, gathered before God week after week in towns and villages all over the world.  The Holy Spirit gathers them and does his work in them.  In these communities of sinners, one of the sinners is called pastor and given a designated responsiblity in the community.  The pastor's responsibility is to keep the community attentive to God."
- Eugene Peterson as quoted in The Church Awakening by Charles R. Swindoll, p. 241-242.
Toni and I are making do with less stuff than usual this week.  My desk is now a card table with boxes packed around.  It's fine.  I've kept my trusty computer out.  A few books too.

As I looked at the scene before me, I realized I'm still using one of the cups bought for a youth teaching lesson.  Back in 2009 I intentionally broke another of those cups and put cash in it to illustrate Second Corinthians 4:5,7.
...We do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake... But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
I thought of this tonight as I've been listening to concerns about the church.  The book in which the above quote is found is subtitled "An Urgent Call for Renewal."  It's a good book and I'm thankful it was loaned to me.  One thing, though, I've been thinking of as I read it.

It's God who renews the church, not we human beings.  Even when the church is not all it can or should be, God chooses to use it for good--as long as it preaches and teaches God's Word, stays close to Jesus, and relies on God's Holy Spirit.  Like he fills imperfect human beings with his own presence, so he fills broken and troubled churches and uses them for good.  The only thing we need do is stay dependent on God's Word, trust Jesus for good instead of ourselves, and let the Holy Spirit do his remarkable, joyful work.

I'm "broken and cracked" and so is every church I've ever been part of.  As I wrote in this blog on Feb. 4, 2009, "All he asks of us is to admit our unworthiness as we open ourselves to his Word and Spirit."  That's true for individuals AND for the groups of desperate believers we call "church."  Somehow, even with churches filled with people like me, God makes do.


And God makes do to do excellent things.  Here's the end of chapter 8 in Swindoll's book mentioned above:
The House of God Needs to Represent Its Biblical Purposes for Existence

It's a house of prayer, not a house of business.  It's a place of worship, not a place of entertainment.  Jesus is our Savior who we worship, not a brand to market.  The body of Christ is a sanctuary of protection for the vulnerable--for children, single mothers, the abused, the bruised and broken in life.  The house of God is refuge for those who have special needs and can't keep up.  It's a harbor of hope for those who are addicted and struggling.  For those trying to find a reason to go on after a death or divorce, the church ahs a powerful opportunity to offer the hope that God gives.

The marvelous opportunity of ministry that lies before the church awaits only one thing: the church's awakening.  Stated simply, the people of God must return to a hunger and thirst for righteousness... the ministers of God must repent of their failure to fulfill their calling... and the house of God needs to represent its purpose for existence.  In spite of all the spiritual devastation and famine in our land, it is not too late to turn it around--by God's grace.


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