Most Christians would agree to the idea of following God’s design. But once you point out specifics, especially of church practice, people get defensive. This is because our church experience is tied to so many things: family, history, culture, tradition, activity, morality, community, authority, education, etc. We become emotionally connected to our experiences and the exercise of our will. When you start to criticize one part of this web, people feel hurt or threatened or at least uncomfortable. Many people have lots of positive feelings towards their church and the people there. But all the good people, good experiences, and meaningful traditions cannot replace God’s design.
Despite the good people and experiences, many people are longing for freedom but don’t understand why they don’t have it. Jesus came to bring freedom – He doesn’t want slaves, but sons and daughters. And while there might be a lot of “doctrinally sound” teaching, that doesn’t translate into the power and presence of the Holy Spirit or transformed lives. When you are trained into thinking your experience of God looks like Sunday morning services, mission trips, camps, praise songs, seminars, Sunday school, etc, you’ve simply created a lot of activities, that might contain a lot of truth. But they do not compare with the wild, wandering savior saying, “Come, follow me.”
Jesus gave us authority in His name. He gave us the power of the Holy Spirit. When we function outside of the spiritual authority given to us by God, we function in our inventions, which prove ineffective. Man’s strength and wisdom will always be insufficient.
There is a pandemic of abuse in our country (sexual, emotional, etc). Most abuse victims feel undeserving or unqualified of good things, specifically God’s love. Abuse diminishes a person’s sense of worth. Victims accept the guilt of their abuse. This leads to decisions and vows made, which act as a filter to how they view themselves and the world. They become the foundational deception of their identity and motivation. Pain can go to the core of our being and seriously distort our understanding of the universe.
Because of this severe destruction, many victims end up with performance issues. They strive for acceptance. There is no rest here. However, having behavior patterns centered around striving can lead a victim to be lauded in many work and ministry environments, because it looks like hard work. This can be even more destructive, because their behavior appears to get them what they desire, but they will never get healed by gaining acceptance through performance.
The church, when functioning by God’s design, is the best tool to heal people from abuse. When the church operates by God’s design, there is no place to hide. The Holy Spirit reveals things and the spiritual gifts minister to people. The church should be filled with people whose hearts are inclined toward God, and those rejecting God should not be in the church. They will not be working toward His designs and bringing people to healing.
When the church doesn’t function by God’s design, it cannot reach its fullness. The church has created and filled unbiblical offices and positions, and these offices get filled by broken people often bound by pretending. Man’s design for the church has created spaces where abusers can come to power. Usually, they place young people fresh out of college, generally who have issues that have never been resolved, in places of authority over people just a couple years younger than them, all of whom also have issues that haven’t been addressed.
How do we get back to God’s design for His church? Recognize that He has a design and it matters. Examine our current practices and see if it matches His design. The church God designed lives together, shares together, and battles together. God’s church has not failed, it has been left untried.
“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.”
G. K. Chesterton
How do you define ministry? Many people engage in compulsive ministry – it is very activity driven. It is a fleshly embrace of duty. What is your motivation? Is it a compulsion, or a relationship with God? True ministry must rest in grace – faith in God’s goodness despite our sin. Many other people’s compulsion comes from a striving for approval. We also need grace for others – do not minister from a position of pride, but lay down your life. We reproduce slavery by creating a culture of compulsion.
Ministry requires consecration – your heart is set on God and His desires. Because you are human, you will fail at some point, but that is where grace continues to work in us. Without consecration, our minds can be filled with fantasies, nonsense, lies, pain, etc. This distracts our minds from things above. It pollutes our thoughts with lies or meaningless babble. Many abuse victims will engage in pretending, which is a deep level of self-delusion. Pretending consumes our energy and blocks our ability to hear and obey the voice of God.
We are not designed to live and work alone. Rarely does God place people in a position where we have nobody. If you truly have no one, then you need to pursue God intensely. If you are simply praying and journaling, then it is easy for you to be deceived. There is no one to help you see blind spots, or to discern if you are still viewing God through a filter.
Zach Winters – Monarch http://zachwintersmusic.com/
Needtobreathe – Able https://youtu.be/QW7esoMfVxI
For more insight into pain and its effects, please see the books “Pain and Pretending” and “Love: No Strings Attached” by Rich Buhler
This episode originally broadcast live on July 24, 2015 on KXEN 1010AM in St. Louis, MO
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