Today we live in a very challenging time as believers. One of the great challenges that we have is, we live in a society where there seems to be no regard for the truth. A few months ago I had the privilege to sit down with a group of pastors and talk to the Church of God General Overseer Dr. Mark William. One of the questions that were asked of him was what does he see as the greatest challenge facing the church moving forward? Without hesitation, Dr. William said “Absolute truth”. He went on to talk about how our society has come to the place where they do not see the absolute truth, they do not see good and bad, or right and wrong. We live in a time where people call good bad and bad good. So how does the church function in this? How does the church operate in this pluralistic culture? Some churches have chosen to follow society, and bend and say that there is room for interpretation of the Word of God and that we have to change and give in if we are going to reach people. They share what they call the “all love approach” where we are not supposed to hurt anyone’s feeling and we are to make sure that everyone feels good about themselves, but is that what God called us to do. If not then how are we supposed to spread the gospel in a world that does not want to hear the truth?
I believe personally that this is the greatest time for evangelism, and that no time since the days of Pentecost, are people looking for something that is real in their lives. We live in a world filled with darkness, but we must remember that the light shines the brightest in the darkest of nights. The problem that we are having in the church has nothing to do with the condition of the world and everything to do with the condition of the church. The church has fallen asleep and we have failed to realize that we have been given the power of God to make an impact on this world. We must awaken out of our slumber and come to realize that there is a cause and that is a mission for each one of us to accomplish.
So how do we do accomplish this mission? I believe the answer is simple, through love and power.
You see I believe that the church should be a place of love and that love should extend to every person that walks through our door. This means that every person, no matter what they have done or what they are doing, should be welcome to come into the house of God. The doors of the church should be open to all, and all should feel the love of God through the people of God. People come to Jesus through love and through truth. Most people attend a church for the first time because someone they love invited them or because they are in search of love in their life. The church should be a house of love and we should openly accept all people into the house of God.
The problem that so many have in the church is that many have redefined what it means to love people. John said in John 1:14 that Jesus was full of “grace and truth”. We see this balance in Jesus throughout His ministry. He ate with the publicans, but He still preached against their greed. He loved them enough to tell them the truth and to tell them that what they were doing was wrong. How can we love someone and see them sinning and not help make them aware of their sins and show them a better way through Jesus? True love is not overlooking the sins of people but true love is helping them through Christ change and come into the fullness of His grace. We have to share with people that the grace of God is not something that comes and allows them to sin but the grace of God enables them through the power of God to overcome their sins. How can I believe that there is a hell and not love someone enough to do all I can to keep them out of that place? True love speaks the truth and that means that there are times when it is going to hurt someones feelings and it is going to be offensive to the sinner. We as the church should love people and we should never beat people over the head with the Word of God and we should all remember that we have all “sinned and come short of the glory of God” and all of us were in need of salvation. Love says I was in your place and here is what Jesus did for me and if He did it for me then He can do it for you.
The second thing that the church needs to operate in is the power of God. Paul says in Romans 1:16 “I am not ashamed of the gospel: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes”. In the original Greek, the word “γαρ” is used and it can be translated indeed. So Paul is saying, without doubt, I am not ashamed of the gospel. Then the word for power here is dynamic (δυναμις), which should be translated “the power”. In other words, it is not just a power but it is the power that brings about salvation. How can the church help people to change if the church is not operating in the power of God? How can we see lives transformed if we do not have the power of God working in the midst of the church? Lives are not changed by how well we do kids church or how much money we put into the music program. Lives are not changed by how cool (old school word) our youth program is or if we have the best light show on Sunday morning. Lives are changed by the power of God. Through His power, people are transformed from sinner to saint in a moment and through His power, they continue to make a change every day.
As believers and church leaders we have come to rely on the resources that we have and on our own ability. We have come to worry more about the programs that we have rather than the prayer that we seem to never get to. We put all out resources in reaching the needs of the people rather than touching the throne room of God. We are left with powerless services that fail to empower the people and so we walk around as zombies with no desire, no passion, and no change. What we must get back to is seeking God for the power of His Spirit so that He can begin to operate in the power of Christ. Only through the power of God can the church offer life and a life that is more abundant.
The church can reach people through love and power and both of these must be active within the church if we are going to see people come to know Jesus. We cannot truly love people if we fail to do what it takes to allow God to operate within His church and bring power that will transform the lives of the sinners. I believe that the thing that most people are looking for in this life is love and purpose, and we as the church have both of those in Jesus our Lord. The church has to come to the place where we love people enough to tell them the truth, and then be operating within the power of God so much that He can change their life. Love without power brings no change, power without love brings no change, but when they come together they will always bring change to people.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” John 3:16. Here we see the love of God in that He was willing to give His life for us and we see the power of God in that if we believe we can have eternal life. The word believes is a participle and it means that we continue to believe on Him. Love and Power bring transformation through the forgiveness of sin. Though the days of our world seem dark, this is the time that the church has the ability to shine the brightest and lead people to the transforming power of Jesus through love and power.