“Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.” – Matt. 24:12
There’s enough going on in the news today to properly frighten anyone. Rampant riots and vandalism here in my own backyard, people actively seeking out cops to kill. Gunmen entering movie theaters and churches like they’re hunting for sitting ducks. Parades and protests where people are joyfully throwing anything, from bricks to excrement, at others. Kids being gunned down in their homes or stolen and sold into sex slavery. Babies being ripped apart and their pieces sold to the highest bidder. Parents killing their own children, and children killing their own parents. Religions slaughtering religions. I think it’s enough to terrify anyone. And … harden anyone.
Please don’t get me wrong: I believe in clarion calls. I believe in men and women of God sounding the alarm about social injustice and religious persecution. But the Holy Spirit led me to a thought tonight that gave me chills. This verse is about the church.
I didn’t want to believe it. After all, this is the time to shine. This hour of great darkness is the moment of great impact for the church. Only we don’t know how to handle it, and we’re doing it in our own strength and failing miserably. The very people we should be reaching are the ones we are alienating. You’re probably already mad at me, but I hope you keep reading. I’m not trying to make you upset, but I have to tell you what’s on my heart.
Jesus said, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” But many of us are not speaking the truth in love, we are just speaking the truth … and turning sinners away because they didn’t come to Jesus clean. The church has become so high-brow we no longer reach the lowly and destitute. The wickedness in the world, the tremendous influx of Satanic activity has frightened us and caused us to lash out in anger instead of reach out in love. We believe the Word and we want others to believe, but we don’t know how to love them AND teach it because we’re freaking out instead of being still.
Too much study and not enough prayer had produced men and women who know the Word inside and out but have not spent time in the presence of God to know His heart. Is it impressive to know a lot of scripture? Maybe to some people, but it certainly does not impress God. Because Satan knows the scriptures better than any of us and has crafted so many false doctrines with it that all of us should be frightened. “Even the very elect can be deceived.”
Prayer is the only safe measure for the child of God because it guarantees we will know His voice and have discernment. Knowing the Bible without knowing God makes for a very self-righteous person who measures up in their own eyes, and hates the world for not being right. I know this is true just by reading a lot of “Christian” posts on facebook. If sin doesn’t break your heart, you are most likely hardened. If speaking about unborn babies being brutally murdered in the womb doesn’t break your heart, you are stone. I’m not talking about how well you stand on your high horse about it. I am talking about how you minister in this.
I was praying this evening and the Lord said to me, “Please pray for the women who have had abortions in this time.” And then he revealed to me the deep pain of the women who have had abortion procedures out of desperation and are now finding out about the lies they were told and the vicious circumstances surrounding the death of their unborn child. Many women have undergone abortions in desperation, not apathy. And they struggle with it. And now they are hearing stories of babies born live and killed afterward. And they are seeing the videos with baby limbs and organs spread out in a petri tray. Their hearts! Oh dear Lord, their hearts! If the church gets on a high horse and forgets the lowly, we have done nothing fruitful for the kingdom of God. Because God wants all people to come to a saving knowledge of Christ and repentance. And if we are giving them a Gospel that makes them grovel in anguish and hide in shame, we are not bringing them nearer to the foot of the cross.
I think many of us would do well to go back there, actually. Go back to the place where your soul was set free. Sit at the bleeding feet of Jesus. Listen to His agonized breathes for you. For me. For us all. His love is so deep, He endured so much and we should be telling people. Sure, talk about sin if that’s how the Spirit leads you. But otherwise, talk about Jesus. Talk about repentance. Forgiveness. Santification. Cleanliness. Holiness.
Here’s the litmus test: Put your Gospel in the mouth of Christ at the scene in John 4. Let Jesus share the things you are preaching to the woman at the well. If your Gospel changes His attitude or His heart and message toward her, you are doing something wrong. Go back to the cross.
Dear friend, if I still have your attention, let me tell you something. I was sitting her a few months back and the Holy Spirit spoke this: And Jesus said unto them, “Shut up.” I was shocked. But I continued to be still and listen and the Spirit continued: “So many people are speaking knowledge. Head knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” Knowledge makes us feel like somebody, but it fills us with pride. Love doesn’t lord over people, it builds them up. Therefore, love is effective on a level that knowledge is not. I’m not saying water down the truth. I love the truth. I’m simply stating that truth without love is brutal. It’s rape to the heart. The people we minister to in this way are victims because they aren’t asking for our brutality and they aren’t enjoying it.
The Word of God brings conviction when properly spoken, through the Spirit. The Word without the Spirit brings condemnation. Do not forget that “it is the kindness of God that leads men to repentance.” Don’t believe me? Go walk with Jesus a while. The only people he was stern with were the religious.
“Hate the sin and love the sinner” you will say at this point. But check yourself: are you really hating the sin and loving the sinner? Or are you hating both and loving the way that pride is making you feel? Please church, let’s go back together. Let’s go back to the feet of our agonizing Lord. Look at Him. He did this for everyone that will believe! Stay there until God removes your heart of stone and gives you a heart of flesh. Because this is our time to shine! This is the time for revival! This is the time for the Gospel to spread like wildfire because it is dry out there! Please go back!
Break our hearts, Lord.