What is the biggest problem in the church today? A theological issue? Behavioral standards between generations? Growing political pressure to be more “tolerant” and accepting of various social issues? A fractured economy? Whew! What a loaded question.
I think if you asked people at your church you would find a wide range of responses. Some would say “commitment,” meaning the need for Christ-followers, young and old, to stop living for themselves and start living for God; Dedication to service; Facilities for growth; Fresh and innovative leadership; Location; Diversity; And many other good answers.
But imagine a college student saying, “I’ve been following Jesus for a few years now and I am still so excited about my salvation. I love having a worldview that answers the big questions, asks me to be a critical thinker about the world I live in and the choices I make, calls me to live simply and sacrificially, and provides the power to actually live out the values Jesus talks about. It deals with my past, strengthens me for today, and gives hope for the future.”
“But,” she continues, “It seems like a lot of the Christians I meet in church have been saved so long that they don’t have that sort of excitement. They appear to be waiting for a bus to heaven and biding their time. They may think it’s all about them. But I think people need to get excited about their salvation again and put their faith into action.”
She is exactly right! Think about the early church, whose history is recorded in the Book of Acts. The people mentioned there were certainly excited about their faith. While believers prayed on one occasion, Peter was miraculously released from prison (Acts 12:5-17). Rhoda was so excited to see him that she left him standing at the front door to go tell the others! Lydia heard of Jesus at Philippi and immediately began living out her faith (Acts 16:14-15). Paul and Silas sang songs of victory in prison after a severe beating (Acts 16:20-25). The first believers knew the joy of salvation and spread that joy, and the church grew in numbers, influence, and blessing.
Read Revelation 2:1-7.
When did you accept Christ as Savior and Lord? How would you describe that experience? Do you have that sort of excitement about your salvation, or have you been saved so long that it is almost boring? Has your experience possibly become routine? Go to church, hear a sermon, go home. Read your Bible, but never discuss it with anyone. Ho hum. Go on a spiritual retreat, sing the songs, pray once, get emotionally charged up, but then go home. Ho hum. Booooring, huh?
God spoke directly to some of the Christians at Ephesus, one of the first churches. In Revelation 2:4, He addressed their lack of excitement by saying, “I hold this against you; you have forsaken your first love.” He urged them to repent (i.e., change direction) and promised judgment if they did not renew their love and devotion for Christ and His Word. This should result in a focused devotion to Him, purity of life, love for truth, and actions that line up accordingly.
God is excited about the salvation He’s given us. He wants us to be as excited as He is. Let’s cultivate that same sort of passion to know Him and make Him known. Look hard at your life and if need be, start fresh today to regain that joy. Like the student above, leap for joy at what God has done for you. Think theologically. If you’re happy and you know it, show it.
Love is a verb,
©2013 by Mike Olejarz