“We preach Christ….God’s power and God’s wisdom” (I Corinthians 1:23-24).
Rick Warren says a lot of what pastors are feeding their people is “ain’t it awful” preaching.
Couple of years back, guest preaching in a church, before I rose to speak, a member of the flock with “a gift for continuance,” as a friend put it, addressed the congregation on the latest Supreme Court ruling concerning marriage. The lady was upset, and she had a bad combination: strong convictions and the gift of gab. She went on and on about the sad state of affairs in this country.
Ain’t it awful.
To hear her tell it, the country is going down the tubes, the Supreme Court is out of hand, our freedoms are all in peril, the end is near, and God’s people are in huge trouble.
She said that and then sat down.
I had to follow it. Moments like that, you do not envy the preacher.
“…you were unwilling.” (Matthew 23:37)
Let’s start by posting the answers up front. We pray for revival and it does not come because:
–1) We do not want revival. Not really.
–2) God does not trust us with a revival, and for good reason. He refuses to bless a prodigal, to arm an enemy, to endow a rebel.
There! Those are the answers as to why there is no revival in response to our prayers. .
Now, pull up a chair and let’s talk about it.
It’s that plain and simple: we really do not want a Heaven-sent, life-rearranging revival.
We want the results, the good part, but not the upheaval in our personal lives, priorities, and schedules which a Heaven-sent revival would demand.
We want our churches filled, the community changed, and the believers encouraged. What we do not want is to be caught up in a spiritual fervor that drives us to resign certain affiliations, stop unworthy activities, and devote ourselves to lengthy prayer meetings and Bible studies and ministry.
We want the harvest without the work. We want the blessing without paying the cost. We want certain aspects of the harvest, but not all.
“…and make disciples of all the nations….” (Matthew 28:18-20)
From where I sat as pastor, the deacon appeared to be brow-beating people into praying the sinner’s prayer with him, then accompanying him to church the following Sunday to make public this “commitment” and be baptized. The whipped look on their faces told all one would ever need to know.
So, one Sunday I asked his most recent trophy, a sad-looking lady, “Do you really want to do this? You know, you don’t have to be baptized if you don’t want to.” She said quietly that this was her choice. So, we baptized her and never saw her again.
In time, we changed the way we received church members to make certain we were not simply baptizing someone’s converts but were actually making disciples of the Lord Jesus.
Jesus did not send us to make converts or church members. He did not command anyone to make decisions or pray a nice little prayer. He did not commission us to talk people into walking an aisle or undergoing baptism or getting religious.
“How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were unwilling….” (Matthew 23:37).
You were unwilling.
I would, but you would not, God says.
As a result, Jerusalem was reaping what she had sown. Getting the consequences of her neglect.
The resources of Heaven are standing by; we neglect this to our detriment.
See what the Lord Jesus said to the leper in Mark 1. This fellow violated every convention, every standard, and instead of calling out “Unclean! Unclean!” and avoiding Him, he ran to Jesus. “Lord,” he said, “if you are willing, you can make me clean.” The wonderful Lord Jesus did the unthinkable and touched the untouchable. “I am willing,” He said. “Be cleansed.”