Michel von Allmen writes in his fourth article: "God's method has always been a man/woman! He takes that man/woman, calls him/her, cleanses him/her, changes him/her, gives him/her new hope and direction!"
Though the fig tree should not blossom
And there be no fruit on the vines,Though the yield of the olive should fail
And the fields produce no food,Though the flock should be cut off from the fold And there be no cattle in the stalls, Yet I will exult in the Lord,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.The Lord God is my strength,
And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet,
And makes me walk on my high places.
There is hope! The prophet Habbakkuk gave us a great example of someone steadfast in his faith in God, in spite of enormous difficulties. We are always right to hope in God (these things remain, faith, hope and love 1 Cor 13:13) who wants the Church to be His arm and workforce in a dying world.
A revolution always starts with individuals, groups who raise the right questions, thus challenging the status quo. It’s never easy and always costly to question the status quo, give wake-up calls, challenge, call for change; human nature resents this. This is where we see the difference between boys and men !
Man is usually very tolerant of mediocrity and resistant to change; with this recipe you cannot expect much progress! Let this not be the case with us!
The Reformation movement started by Luther started with a list of points/questions through which he questioned the ways of the Church to do ministry; I doubt that he thought that these statements would have such an impact on history !
If we knew ahead of time what effect our words or deeds would have, we would be so much more careful before doing anything wrong and so much bolder when doing right!
Luther's thesis called for a new stand and position on the part of his contemporaries in front of false doctrines and religious abuse in practice in those days. What else but a vibrant wake-up call for deep change do false doctrines and practices, neglect, abuse, guilty compromise in a lost world call for?
You see, God's method has always been a man/woman! He takes that man/woman, calls him/her, cleanses him/her, changes him/her, gives him/her new hope and direction; but he also breaks those he wants to use, for He knows that without learning to rely on His presence and power, instead of the old sinful nature of man (the flesh) nothing lasting will ever happen nor ever will be built in His Kingdom. “ Without me you can do nothing” John 15:5. That's why the breaking process has to happen in order to qualify us to bring more fruit for the King.
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.
In the same explosion of passionate vision for reformation and transformation of society, John Wesley is known to have said:
“Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not whether they be clergymen or laymen, they alone will shake the gates of Hell and set up the kingdom of Heaven upon Earth.” John Wesley
Q: How can we re-portray Christ in a world which lives with a distorted picture of Christ, if any at all?
God has written part of His story in Europe through centuries of missionary work, prayer, Church work with many trials and much suffering /even martyrs; but the process is not finished if we want to face today's needs and challenges of the new generation.
The relevant message of Christ, giving a new and authentic portray of Him needs to be shaped up again and perfected to leave a legacy to this generation and to others if Christ tarries.
The difficulty in today's society and it's also true in the Church which is overtaken and burdened by the urgency of so many needs, is that everything seems to have become in urgent need of action and remedy.
This is typical of times of crisis. This is understandable but not good; the Devil wants to lull us into complacency and impotency as long as possible so that when we wake up in a time of crisis, we end up being paralysed by the new challenges and eventually make poor decisions if any. Both ways, he wins.
It's like getting up late to go to work; you end up waking up in a frenzy and you can be sure to forget something in the process of preparing for work (food, brushing your hair, clothes, appliances, appointments...) because you are in a state of crisis! And even if you do not forget anything, you certainly have not enjoyed the trip, because you were in a hurry and took unnecessary risks of forgetting something important.
The best to avoid times of crisis is to be ready for it when it comes; for that, we must not only expect it but be on the watch of our God and of what He says to be prepared ahead of time.
Luke 16:8-9 See the unrighteous steward preparing to cross a time of crisis…
And his master praised the unrighteous manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the sons of this age are more shrewd in relation to their own kind than the sons of light. And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by means of the wealth of unrighteousness, so that when it fails, they will receive you into the eternal dwellings.
If we were to do the right things at the right time, in the right way, in a word, with proper discipline, we would not have to worry so much in times of crisis! At least, we could then focus our attention and strengths to face the crisis and not trying to catch up on past homework that has not been done! The sad fact is that the Church is too often one war too late, and the world blames us for this and is right. This is what makes us so often irrelevant to societal needs.
The challenge today is to re-portray Christ to this generation. The Galatians had been presented with a good portray of Jesus but were in danger of forgetting it in favour of walking in the works of the law and of the flesh. Quite foolish indeed! After having known the true Gospel and the true Christ, how could anyone, want to choose walking in the flesh ? It's a looser. Such is man's foolishness!
So today, the world is waiting so see a new, fresh accurate portray of Jesus-Christ in order to make its choice; in the past so much effort and religious discussions focused on differences and tensions between Catholics and Protestants to know who was right, and this dilemma is not even over yet.
While this was going on, how did we address societal challenges of rampant immorality, family breakdown, abortions, New Age occult practices, Islam's influence and it's distorted view of a supposed peaceful religion killing the infidels, the shift in the geo-political and economic spheres which lead masses to lose more and more of their dignity and liberty?
Frankly, so many in this world are waiting for a true and relevant portray and manifestation of Christ, and this the Church's business to do just that!
You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Even so Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “All the nations will be blessed in you.” So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.
©Michel von Allmen 2015