THE LOST CHURCH
Every time I talk or think about church, I always remember my dream of an Ideal church. Since I was born 24 years a go, up to this day, I have been grown up in a traditional church which refers to the one of the mainstream teaching of the church fathers, that is GKJTU (Gereja Kristen Jawa Tengah Utara – Christian Church from North Central Java). As a church member, I am proud of my own church, it can be said that the sense of my “Nationalism” has been rooted deep and strong in this church. Even, when someone asked me, “Which church do you come from ... ?” with the sense of proud, explicit and unshame feeling I responded, ”I am the member of GKJTU church !” . Usually, after hearing my answer, they furrow their forehead and started to ask again, what GKJTU is. I am not a person who has a concept that my church is the best and the most righteous church, because I believe that the true church is only the church which put Jesus Christ as the basic of all – I do not know whether my church is part of it or not, although I really hope so - , furthermore I am a person who believe on the unity of church, so, in my point of view, the truth of the church is more universal, I mean it does not only belong to one particular church, but it belongs to church (the gathering of believers) universally. The sense of proud that I am trying to show here, is the sense of proud as a person who has been born and grown up in this church, so I can say that my pride is more like the strong sense of belonging to my church.
Beside the sense of pride, in some parts, I found myself feels disappointed when I take a look at the church. These disappointments, for me, are almost without any reasons, although I personally consider that, these weaknesses are not only found in my own church, but also come from almost all of the church around the world. I disappointed with the condition of the church which does not show the characteristic of its nature as a Christ’s Church that is the church which shines the image of God. You probably ask me a question, “Which Church you are trying to describe ...?” . Firmly, I state that I am talking about the “church” as an institution, where believers are called out from the sin nature of the world (Ecclesia) and gathered to be a community which is different from the world, and also talking about the church as a person that is believer, where the Holly Spirit dwells inside.
I remember my dream nine years a go when I decided to follow Jesus. I always dreamt that the church must be a beautiful and comfortable place, where people who believe in Christ stays together and has a fellowship in love. I dreamt that inside of this community, I can grow in order to be like Christ. But it seems that I have to accept the reality, that the true existence of the church is not as beautiful as I thought. Wherever I went and involved myself into various churches, I have never found what I am looking for – well temporarily it might be happened for the beginning, but not for the continuing – . But it did not become the final point of all, two years a go, when I was entering the workplace, again I built the hope of the beauty of fellowship with the other believers. I am working in an institution where the majority of the employee “committed” themselves as Christian. I dreamt that I will feel the grown and shaped life which will strengthen my Christian faith. But, again, I have to swallow the bitter pill of disappointment, because the place where I work was even worse rather than what was offered by the world : affairs, corruption, gossip, and various kinds of tricks and cheats are growing fertile in my workplace. It made me sometimes want to scream, “Where are Christians when the world needs them... ?” . I concerned with those conditions, maybe that was the reason, why that Derek and Nancy Copley wrote a book : “Building With Banana” and Mang Ucup wrote a book “God’s Church VS Money’s Church” , which discussed about the problems inside the church and between believers. Sometime I felt that I am not living around the believers but around the Pharisees, who considered themselves as a spiritual person and saved by God, but actually they are not – ehhmm ... but maybe I should ask myself first about this matter before I say it, I am afraid that I am also one of the Pharisees who I mentioned previous.
I have a dream that in the future, there will be a moment where the church will declare its image as the real church, and this thing will make the church is able to show to the world Who Is The God who Rules over it. I do not know whether my dream is going to be happened in the future or not – although I do really hope so. When I was asked by a friend who heard my complaint, “What kind of church that you are actually try to find ?”. I can only say to him, ”Try to read the Acts of the apostles chapter 2 and 4, you will find what is church, and that is the ideal church in my view ...”. My friend fell into silence – I did not know whether he understood with my word or not, but at least, I expected that after having conversation with me, he was interested to open the Bible and read the chapter that I have told to him. What about you ? If you are interested, I do will spend the time to analyze together with you what I meant.
As we know that the Revivalism of the Christ followers started on the fiftieth day after the Ascension of Jesus to heaven, that was on Pentecost day, the day when the Holy Spirit was descended. On that time spectacular changes happened among the apostles, they, who in the beginning were afraid and hide from crowd, suddenly became brave and smashed the world with their testimony before thousands of people about Jesus who has risen from the death. And the power of God keep continue, thousands of people who were wondering about the apostles’ attitude in the beginning, suddenly believed in Christ, because the Holy Spirit worked through the apostles’ word. And it was also not enough for God, He still made the thousands of people who decided to follow Him, suddenly were able to smash and shake the Roman Empire even the whole world with their faith. A few centuries later, Napoleon Bonaparte, a commander of French Army made a confession in the end of his age, “Soon I am going to die, and all people who follow me will leave me, but Jesus Christ, after He died, His followers never left Him, even the population increased and were able to shake the world”.
Frankly speaking, I am amazed with what God has been done in the beginning of the believers gathering establishment. But the thing which becomes my question is : do the incredible believers which were able to shake the world are still can be found right now ?. All the key answer of that question is found in the both chapters that I mentioned above. I try to categorize the Luke writing in Acts of the Apostles chapter 2 and 4 into some free analyzes but connected each other, where the explanation of it will be focused on two targets, those are : Church as an institution and congregation personally as the part of God’s church.
Acts 2 : 38- 41
Peter replied,” Repent and be baptized, everyone of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (38) The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call.” (39)
With many other words he warned them, and he pleaded with them, “ Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”(40)
Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. (41)
After reading above verses, have you ever thought a question that was also passing on my mind, “How many persons who have been joined to my church ? both unbelievers who repent and believers who renew their faith ?” or “How many persons who have heard about the Gospel from me this week ?” .
If we think about those questions, it seems that now is about the time for us to make a confession that the evangelism has became the activity which has been ignored by the church. Well, I admit, that this problem is not happened in all of the church, there are some churches which have ideas to reach the souls or send missionaries to share the Gospel of Jesus. But there are also a lot of churches which make themselves busy, so that they never spend their time to share this Good news. Sometimes, I am wondering: “Why that church starts to forget the great commission of Jesus to : ... go and make disciples of all nations... (Matthew 28:19)”. ? Does the church have become too busy so that it does not have time to do this calling anymore ? Or does the church have found the comfortable situation which makes them too lazy to do this calling ? Or maybe even worse, that is the church has considered that sharing the Gospel is not important enough to be done ? Don’t they feel the sorrow, when millions of people are walking together to the eternal death in Hell, without hearing the salvation news of Christ (Just like hundred thousands of Aceh and North Sumatran’s people who got the Tsunami disaster) ? What about the Marturia , the calling duty of the church to share the Bible ? Is it just a slogan ? As the part of the church we need to think about this matter deeply.
I am not trying to make a scapegoat the church as an institution, but on the contrary, I am trying to open our eyes, the believers as the living church, that evangelism is our responsibility. The church will not act if the people inside does not act also. Honestly, sometimes I feel embarrassed, because as a church member, I have almost never shared the good news to many people, it is true that there are some persons who are allowed by God to hear the Gospel from me. But it is not that much. Sometimes, I missed the sensation of seeing the people repent before God after hearing the Gospel of Christ through me. I admit that it is because of God’s grace, but I hope that I may have that opportunity again.
Recently, there is a new tendency which surfaces in many locations, it happened not only in Indonesia but also in some other countries. Try for once to have sightseeing in the middle of or in the city side. There you will see so many churches appear like fungus grows in the rainy season, it grows everywhere, and it does not care whether grow in a small shop or in a luxurious hotel. One thing for sure, is that, they are churches and they have a lot of members inside. But the weird thing that makes me confuse is that, the number of believers in this earth are never increased ... So, where do the members come from ?. I am not trying to fish a fish in dirty water, but this is a real field fact that : all the members came from the other church members who have changed their “citizenship”. I am sure that, this is not what Jesus meant with evangelism. For me it is just like transmigration from one church to the other church, and not the addition number of believers into the existing number of believers, because the reality that can be seen is that : the numbers of believers are not increasing, while the numbers of churches are increasing rapidly.
Luke clearly described 3000 people repented because of the Peter’s testimony (v 41). They repented, they accepted the Holy Spirit gifts, they were baptized and they were counted as the gathering of the believers. That was the true evangelism !. Sharing the Gospel means open the vision of God’s salvation through Christ on the cross, this is not merely telling who Jesus is, but furthermore to make someone personally see and sense the salvation of Christ. It is not the effort to snatch away a sheep which has a master, but to bring away new sheep to the Great Shepherd, that is Jesus. Look at Peter, when he tried hard with so many words gave the testimony and criticize and advised (v 40) only to make the audience saw that Christ is really God and Saviour.
Do churches start to think, not only to snatch away the area ? position ? asset ? or even worse, snatch away the church members who actually have committed themselves to Christ ? God does not expect a church which is full and crowded, He expects that the lost souls are being saved and have a fellowship with Him. Do churches are able to see the people on the world who need the good news just like the Father sees ? And do churches starts to act as the God’s hand to reach the lost people by telling the salvation ? Perhaps, If only Jesus stays with us now, He will say to us : “Human salvation is more important rather that the number of people inside of the church”
I do not know whether you are agree with me or not, but in my opinion, making people to know the Gospel news and then making them to live the Gospel news itself is the calling of all church and all people inside, whether they are like or dislike.
Acts 2 : 42
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching ...
Acts 4 : 33
With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace among them.
Jesus, when He was tempted by the Devil to change a stone to be bread, answered strictly, “ It is written : “ Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4). Just like our natural body needs food, it is also our spiritual body. And the Bible notes that God’s word is the spiritual food of our spiritual body. Matthew in his Gospel was also written the Jesus statement : “ Bless are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” (Matthew 5:6). The sense of hunger and thirst will only be satisfied when the person comes to God and chews every teaching of God through His words. Furthermore, John RW Stott in his book Sermon on the mount stated that every believer is asked to strive for having the healthy appetite of the truth, in other word Bible study and meditate of God’s word are the basic daily needs of all believer. It is said as the basic need of believer and not as the obligation of believer, because the spiritual growth and the healthiness of our spiritual life depend on our hunger and thirst of truth itself. In my spiritual journey, I am continually faced with the reality of the difficulty to maintain the hunger and thirst of God’s word, there was a moment when I feel bore to read and study the scripture. But this reluctant is not the obstacle for us. When we realize the importance of building the healthy relation with God as the mean to keep our spiritual health that is by chewing and drinking the truth of God’s word regularly then we will strive for it continuously. Spiritual growth is our own responsibility as believer and not the responsibility of other out of us.
Luke on his notes about the first believers’ gathering, stated that these believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching (Acts 2:42) and wherever the apostles taught, the great power of God always expressed marvellously (Acts 4:33). The God’s word which had spoken by the apostles, was not merely words, but powerful words, words which were able to change a life, words which were able to make the listeners lived in an abundant grace of God.
The needs of a healthy teaching that is God’s word, is a very important matter for both spiritual growing and population growing of the believers. But something which becomes a problem right now is that, so many teachings or sermons do not have power anymore to change someone’s life. The teachings found to be flat, un bite, and made the congregation fall to sleep when they heard the sermon. These make the congregation lazy to attend the church service. It is not only above mentioned problem, but we also found that the sermon which is spoken sometime does not pass correctly, so many distortions which make the congregations do not understand obviously what the Bible tries to say. What are the causes : The lack preparation of teaching ? the difficulty to understand the uniqueness of the congregations ? or it is because of the preachers themselves that they do not live the God’s word which is going to be passed ?
Just like the Israelites who fell into the ritual activities because they did not understand the word of God correctly, we do also fall into the same condition. But the different is : They only recognized Jesus as an authorized person when He taught the crowd (Mark 1:27) for a moment, but we know and believe that He is the Lord and Saviour. The present church needs the powerful God’s word, just like Israelites did.
Have we recognized our church warmness and sluggishness, because of the less power of God’s word ? The authorized words are only come from God, and the preachers will have that power when they are really preparing the sermon by struggling before God. Only sermon which comes from God has the authority to change someone’s life. It is true that we can not only blame the preacher, sometime the problems also come from the congregation who has unprepared heart to receive the God’s word. The powerful word of God will also be useless when the listeners keep hardened their heart.
Every believer and church is challenged to walk on the life which is continuously sense the hunger and thirst of righteousness, where Christ becomes the centre of longing of the righteousness. It is the time for believer and church to care of their spiritual life, and start to act on fulfilling it.
How often do we spend our time to implement the Bible study ? (remember it is not only Pastor and Theologian who have the duty to study the Bible, but all believers who believe in Christ).
How deep that the church cares of the given God’s word quality to the congregation ? (remember that the church has the duty to fulfil the need of the congregation, deals to the true and responsible righteousness).
Acts 2 : 42,44,46
They devoted themselves ... to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. (42)
All the believers were together and had everything in common. (44)
Everyday they continued to meet together in the temple of courts. They broke bread in their homes, and ate together with glad and sincere hearts. (46)
Acts 4 : 34-37
There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales (34)
And put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need. (35)
Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement) (36)
Sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.(37)
Nowadays, when the Instant culture grows fast and when everyone wants to get all thing in hurry, without problems, and get the best result, Fellowship is also becoming an activity which is eliminated on the line of the “wanted to do” list. How can’t it be happened, someone just needs to press the television remote to get the sermon they want ; they can only press the button of the phone or internet to have chatting, sharing or even counselling ; and they need nothing to do beside press the “play” button of the CD player to listen the praise and worship songs, and all those things can be done without going to church. They have assumption that church is only a place where conflicts and opponents exist, there are no peaceful situations that can be felt. No wonder that they think : “ Why that we have to go to the church if we can only meet the disharmony and send our offering money there, but never get something which makes us find God.”
This incident can not be denied has made the church lost the meaning of the true fellowship. It is not enough for a person just to stay at home and does not make any communication with other, just like a child who put and locks in the room. Maybe the child get all the facilities (such as video games and many toys or else) he wants, but he does not find and sense the warm of love in the middle of his family. As we see now, so many church members, today, are prefer to have and enjoy their loneliness and do not care to the fellowship in their church, and it seems that the elders and the counsellor of the congregation can not ( ... or do not want ... ??? ) to do something to repair it.
Now, take look at how that the first believer’s gathering live. They spent almost all of their time to be together in an indescribable fellowship. They gathered, fellowshipped, prayed, shared and strengthened each other. They were gathered and kept on the community because they have one same hope that is on Christ the owner of the Church.
In the first gathering of believers we can see that those people did not only gather and eat, but also we can find that they fulfilled the need each other. There were no one who lives more or less than other, everyone received the appropriate part based on their need. Bible does not try to teach the concept of Communism here, but the concept communal. If communism teaches the concept of equal in everything, the communal concept teaches the life pattern where people inside lives in harmony and fulfil each other. There is different concept of equality between communism and communal : communism concept of equality forces everyone to get the same fix and precise part of everything (in goods) where the Government controls everything ; but communal concept of equality asks their members to live in harmony where each other fulfil their need and get their part appropriate with them, and the controller of their community is themselves guided by God. Only the communal equality concept which makes the fellowship finds its life, where everyone is able to build love and trust without suspicious feeling.
Furthermore, there is something which makes me amazed with what has been written by Luke on his report. Make attention on one name which is mentioned there : Joseph Barnabas (the Son of Encouragement). Many persons do not know who he is, well, he is not a popular person compared to the other figures of the Bible, but for me, he is a figure who does not less greater rather that the other figures. He was the first person who accepted and companied Paul a few moments after Paul repented, although so many believers still can not accept Paul because of their fearness. He was also the first person who companied Paul on his journey to spread the Gospel of God. And he was the person who has ever had a conflict with Paul because of the John Mark who left Paul in his ministry. Barnabas considered that everyone deserved to have the opportunity to repent, but Paul insisted to ignore John Mark. This made Barnabas and Paul finally separated, although in the end Paul confessed his mistake and asked John mark to re-join in his ministry.
Asking about the important meaning of the fellowship deeper, often I compare the Christianity life with a wheel of four trellises as a medium to answer the important of the Christian fellowship. Wheel illustrated the believers’ life which continuously turns pass through the life of righteousness. The central axis is Christ, as the central point of all part of our life. The two vertical trellises show the relationship with God that is through prayer (bottom-up) and Scripture (top-down). Meanwhile, the two other horizontal trellis describe our relationship with other human, those are fellowship and testimony. A believer will never get the growing and qualified life if he/she lost, (although) only one of the four trellis. The same with it, church, as the collective part of the believers, will also find the difficulty to sense the growing if one of the trellises is broken. The church will stop to grow if it loses its solidity as the gathering of the believers, the destruction of one part will influence the other part and finally it will bring to the destruction all part of the church. Have we ever learnt from the church history which has scratched some shame stories behind : the separation of the church, the egocentric of the denomination, and various matters which result in the destructions of the church. Sometime, I dream that the church will be united and will not be separated, church where inside of it only consists of faith and love to the Trinity God and also the conviction that the Bible is the supreme truth. But I do not know when that my dream will come true ... although I really do hope it happens.
The questions that we might need to answer right now are that : Do we still find the meaning of the true fellowship ? Does the church still show the life spirit of fellowship just like what has been shown by the first believers’ gathering ? And do we have the longing to state the identity of the church as a fellowship of the believers of Christ to the world ? If the answers of all those questions are “Yes”, we may have the opportunity to refresh our fellowship.
4. GOD’S POWER
Acts 2 : 43
Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.
As a member of a conservative church, in which inside has so minimum information about miracles and other Supra-Rational matters, sometime makes me feel apathetic when I heard of someone who talks about miracles and Holy Spirit Gift in unbalance way. Nevertheless, I do not have a right to claim that “the power” and “miracles” never exist, just because I have never felt it. I am still and will always believe that the power of God is everlasting. Our Almighty God will never be limited by a certain time or a particular space and also by anyone or anything.
I do not have any intention to say that every church has to sense miracles or something that is amazing, because in my opinion, whether we realize or not, actually God has held miracles for us in our daily life. “... Have you ever waked up in the morning and felt that you were still breathing ? That was one of our God’s miracles in our life...”. Something that I am trying to say here is that, every church supposes to see what work that God has been done in our life as believer, whether in personal or collective life. Doesn’t the psalmist say : “Teach us to number our day aright, that we may gain a heart of Wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). This sentence was made because the psalmist finds that God provides a marvellous miracles everyday in his life. And I can also find that the psalmist spent most of his life with God, so that he may sense the wisdom of God in his life. Church which is praying and struggling with God, I can guarantee, that it will sense the maintenance work of God. And when we are watching every work of God in our daily life, we will see that God is making miracles in our life through process. One thing that we need to realize is that God does not always use spectacular happenings to show His power, but He can also use small thing that sometime we do not realize it, but actually the Majesty of God exalted there.
We all believe that the first believers’ gathering really saw the power of God which was done through the apostles, but the real fear and astonishment of them were not merely because of the miracle itself, but because of the awareness that there was God among them. For them the existence of God is much more important rather than the miracle itself. In other word, If I may conclude, the existence of God in the church is more important rather than the miracle which follows behind. Sometime I feel concern to the numbers of people who prefer to find miracle rather than God. They joined to the various inside or outside Christian’s believe in order to see a miracle. Don’t they realize that God is more important rather than the miracle itself and don’t they aware that the Devil who is able to disguise himself as a light angel also has a power to make a miracle, although it happens under the permission of God. The assumption :”Finding God means finding miracles, but finding miracle does not mean finding God.” has to be kept and not be changed or even be reversed.
I invite all of us to see the miracles and God’s deeds in our daily life and our church life together. Have we seen the power of God is implemented in our personal and our church life ? Have we learnt to number all of God’s miracle with the sense of astonishment and gratitude to Him ? The miracle of God will always be valid from this day and continue to the everlasting.
Acts 2 : 47
Praising God and enjoying the favour of all people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
Acts 4 : 33
With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all.
Becoming a believer is not an easy job to do, because every Christian is called to state his/her status as the children of God through the life which is suitable with the image of his/her redeemer. The life which shines the image of Christ is the picture which will be a true testimony for the world that against God. But, if we try to be honest and ask a question to ourselves : how many Christian in the church who has shown his life correctly before God ? maybe we have to bend our head down in sorrow. From my observation, I found that so limited people who after seeing the testimony of Christianity expressed their admiration to our Almighty God.
For centuries, so many concerns came out deal to the church behaviour, it was not only one or two theologians who stated about this matter, but hundreds or even thousands. Two of them, that I recognize, are : John RW Stott who wrote the essay of Sermon on the mount and Prof. W. Stanley Heath who wrote the Interpretation of Genesis chapter 1 – 11 and the relevance with the church restoration on the end of day. Both of them agree that today’s church has lost its status as the possession of God. This happened when church decided to be similar to the world. The dilapidated life pattern of the church results in the depraved testimony for the world (because both of them are the same), and the depraved testimony of the church results in the humiliation of God’s reputation.
Prof. W. Stanley Heath in his book : Interpretation of Genesis chapter 1 – 11 and the relevance with the church restoration on the end of day stated that ... the shattering and persecution of the church in many places, is not merely used by God to examine believers’ faith but also to be used to bring the church return to its image, as the possession of God .... In his opinion many churches in this time have compromise themselves to the world and do not show their image as the possession of God anymore, so that God allows the shattering and persecution to educate Christian. This pattern was also used by God in the past. God used Babylon, Philistine, Assyrian and Egypt to make Israel returned to God after so many times shared their believe to other gods and disobey God’s verdict.
The same opinion about the dilapidated church was also stated by John RW Stott , when he wrote : “... Church does not implement its function as the salt of the world, which is giving the cure of the pain because of sins. On the contrary, church becomes the honey of the world which continuously sweetened the sin of the world. In other word the church becomes similar to the world (even worse), and does not show its culture which makes it different from the world ...”
I do not know how concerns are you, when you see the weak testimony of the church in the middle of the society. I concern when I see the church building was build luxurious in the middle of the poor and needy society. I concern when I see so many pastors do not show their image as a shepherd who protect the lambs, on the contrary they become the trouble maker of the fellowship so that the fellowship is ruined. I concern to the church which compete each other to be number one, and sometime to be more rather than Jesus. I concern about the condition of the God’s minister who their life can not be the model for the church members and society. This kind of poor testimonies church which make the name of our God being humiliated. Don’t be silent : ”... You are the salt of the world ... you are the light of the world ...”
Acts 2 : 45
Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.
Acts 4 : 32
All believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had.
Talking about love becomes the topic which never be old. Since human was created by God, the seed of love has been planted in human, who became the image of God. But after the human falling and together with the run of the time, the original love was fade even disappear. The image “God is love” has lost in the life of His children who do not shine the love of their Heavenly Father.
I was tickled when a pastor preached : “ ... the inclination that is faced by today’s church is the losing of the true love of the church ... the only thing that is loved by the church is the existence of the church itself, church does not care to its members, church does not care with God’s reputation, and church does not care to the society and world which surround it. Church only cares to its own development to be the biggest church ... and if it necessary, the church will sacrifice the other”. Well, it maybe too extreme for us, but it can not be denied that today, the church is changing slowly to be an egoistic and individualistic creature, a creature which does not care to the other except itself.
I was thinking in past that the community of believers will always absolutely shine the true love. But my prejudice was completely wrong, in some countries which are dominated by persons who claim as “believer”, they are also implementing the violence and persecution to the weak one. I was thinking that Christians do not know the language of “majority” and “minority”, they know only the language of love, but once again I was wrong. When believers become the minority, they are persecuted by the majority, but in the opposite when they become the majority, they are the persecutor for the minority. So, what is the different ?
When I see the condition of the first gathering of believers, I am always amazed of how that they built the love inside. How can not I feel amaze of this ? The first believers considered that all thing belongs together, they were not forced to act so (just like what is done by the communist), but they did so as their own choice. The choice which made because they have sensed the true love of God. This love power of the first believers which made so many people were attracted to come to God. The people were not only attracted by the preach of the truth, but they were attracted because they have seen the truth itself live in the believers.
It is the time when we start to ask again the meaning of the true love. Have we felt the true love of God and express the God’s love that we get to other people around us ? Many persons need our help. As believers we do not have to expect that we will get back the love when we express our love to other, because we have sensed the everlasting love of God. We do not have to pretend that we love other in order to be accepted and respected, the praise belongs to God and Hypocrisy belongs to devil. The true love is the love which belongs to God, where God becomes the source of love and also becomes the Subject of praise and glory.
These few days I read an interesting book, written by Edwin Louis Cole, with the title : Strong Men In The Though Times. There was a statistic data about the condition of the United States of America church members which, makes me tickled to compare it with the condition of the churches in Indonesia. To understand what I meant, see the below statistic data which was taken by Mr. Cole, about the church member condition in America :
10 % of the church members can not be found
20 % of the church members never attend the Sunday service
25 % of the church members never pray
30 % of the church members never read the Bible
40 % of the church members never support the church financially
60 % of the church members never support the world mission financially
75 % of the church members never do the ministry in the church
95 % of the church members never bring one person to Christ
100 % church members expect to go to heaven
The picture of the survey makes me think, what is the meaning of following Jesus Christ for the believers, if we refuse to bear our own cross everyday ? The above statistic data might be happened in America, but I think it is also relevant to the other nations. We have lost so many qualities of Christianity in the church, and also start to ignore the reputation of God, because of the dilapidated attitude that we have done as the people who claimed “Follower of Christ”. Have we ever thought that for centuries, the reputation of God has been humiliated because of our attitude ? Have we ever realized the deep sorrow of our Father because of our deeds ?
I think it is the time for us to declare and to show our quality as Christian in the middle of the world as the image of God. It is not the time for us to dizzy ourselves with programmes, organization management and church development or the fulfilling of our own needs. It is the time for us to implement the task of God for His church, personally or collectively. All part of our life is the medium to declare the God’s plan on the world : God’s plan not ours !!!. Sometimes, I feel that we are too busy with our church programmes and also our own plan, without involve God inside. Which are the more important, in your opinion : the systematic programmes without God or the systematic programmes which are made by involving God inside ?
I have a dream that someday in the future, Church will stand as one and only union before God, where it knows nothing about denominations and religious streams but knows only Jesus Christ as the Lord and Saviour, and also believe that the Bible is the supreme truth. And now is the time for us to implement all of this. God the owner of the Church in all part of the world will always work and assert His power to the people who declares His plan. Amen. (suko – 06/05/2005) SkD
Think about this : C H _ _ C H , what are missing inside ? U R
(You are lost somewhere, when the church need you)