“They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword; they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented” (Hebrews 11:37).
Over the years I have witnessed church congregations grow and shrink for many reasons. The level of spiritual leadership and the power of God’s anointing upon the person in the pulpit is one reason for rapid expansion. We are still very much influenced by human personality in today’s Christian church. Moreover, an anointed leader with a message of the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Our Christ will help four-out-of-five congregations grow.
I feel congregational shrinkage has more to do with a lack of warmth or welcome new members receive upon joining a congregation. I can imagine many new Christians may have had a church experience that unfold in a way similar to the one described below.
Start with a sanctuary of any size containing five Christians. Inside the sanctuary, hang “A Big Cross” on a string and place a set of stairs under it. Before long, a Christian will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the Big Cross. As soon as he touches the stairs, spray all the other Christians with cold water. After a while another Christian makes the attempt with the same results, all the other Christians are sprayed with cold water. Pretty soon when another Christian tries to climb the stairs, the other Christians will try to prevent it.
Now, put the cold water away. Remove one Christian from the sanctuary and replace it with a new one. The new Christian sees the Big Cross and wants to climb the stairs. To his shock, all the other Christians beat the Christian poop out of him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs he will be assaulted. “In the world ye shall have tribulations; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Next, remove another of the original five Christians and replace it with a new one.
“For judgement is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgement” (James 2:13).The newcomer’s gaze is fixed upon the Big Cross; slowly he goes to the stairs and start to climb towards the Big Cross and is immediately attacked. The earlier newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm.
Repeat the process replacing a third original Christian with a new one, then a fourth, then the fifth. Every time the newest Christian takes to the stairs climbing towards the Big Cross he is attacked. Most of the Christians that are beating him have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs or even why they are participating in the beating of the newest Christian.
Finally, after replacing all the original Christians, none of the remaining Christians have ever been sprayed with cold water. Nevertheless, no Christian ever again approaches the stairs to try for the Big Cross. Why not? Because as far as they know, that is the way it has always been done around here. No One Is Allowed To Touch The Big Cross! “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do” (Galatians 5:17).
And that, my brothers and sisters, is how Christian-Life operates and precisely why we need to be willing to endure the pain and cold water our fellow Christians will spray you with as you reach for the Big Cross. Jesus was on the Big Cross alone, but no thing or no one could dampen His spirit nor change His purpose. His last words; “It is finished”cannot be spoken by any Christian until you have touched and been touched by the One on the Big Cross.
Welcome to the Christian life, wet or dry, cold or hot it is not easy, but it is good. I thank God for blessing you to be a blessing to someone else in Jesus’ name. Amen. “You may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31).
Grady Norman Greene, Minister of the Gospel of Jesus Our Christ
- The Cross (bloggingforwisdom.wordpress.com)
- What Would Jesus Do? : RW Glenn (craigsturm.wordpress.com)
- How do I know I’m really a Christian? (hillsbiblechurch.org)