AFTER YOUR AWAKENING, WHAT’S NEXT?
A NOTE TO MY STUDENTS
You have been busy serving the Lord, and growing in the Christian life. At some point in your walk with God, you took a seminar or two about Christian theology. Someone explained to you what is the orthodox faith, or theology (doctrines) of the church, and how the church – including the so-called evangelical church – has been going astray. You feel excited about the knowledge you have learned. You are awakened to the need for the church to take a stand, to teach her people orthodox Bible doctrine.
At the same time, you feel frustrated, you don’t know what to do. What do you do when there is so little “doctrine” taught in your surroundings, in your city? What do you do if you are the only person who is “awakened” to the need for Bible content in the teaching of the church? What if you are the only person who is taking a stand?
Everyone around you – from the layperson to the leader in the church and the theological schools – seems to be going in a different direction. They are interested in “practical ministry,” “outreach and mission,” in “healing” broken hearts, marriages and relationships. You are the only person who wants to study the Bible and the doctrines taught in the Bible!
Or you feel very alone – there is no pastor in your church. How can you hold on to the historic, Biblical (orthodox) faith when there is no shepherd? How can you have any normal church life?
Do you want to give up? Do you want to leave the church? Do you want to give up believing in Christ, and serving him? Do you want to stop being a Christian?
Don’t do that! My dear brother/sister, do not give up. Do not stop loving Christ, serving Christ! You are not alone (I Corinthians 10:13). Others have gone down this road before. Martin Luther, John Calvin – and many before them and after them – were awakened to the truth. Then they sensed God’s calling – they found a path for action, for prayer, for sacrificial living.
May I suggest a few things you can begin to do today:
1. Pray that God will give you a heart to love the church. Pray that he will
increase your love for the church. You see, it does you NO GOOD, it will not help your spiritual life, if you resent the church. Learn from Christ: our Lord Jesus loved the church (Jerusalem) so much, he wept for her. Jesus knew what is good for Jerusalem; Jerusalem, however, was blind. Jesus wept for her – weeping is one of the highest forms of loving. Do you love the Lord? You must love the church. Jesus loves his church – the visible church, the church made up of weak members and leaders. Yes, the church which you and I are members of, right here, in this place, at this time.
2. Begin a course of study for your own growth and maturity. Read a solid book,
such as KNOWING GOD by J.I. Packer, or THE CHRISTIAN LIFE by Sinclair Ferguson (pan shi zhi shang). Or you can consider enrolling in a distance-learning course in theology, theology that is based on the Bible. This will require you to CARVE OUT time – you must MAKE TIME in your busy schedule, in order to grow. You may not be able to change your church, but you can change yourself, by becoming more effective, more usable to the Lord, more equipped to share God’s Word wherever he may lead you in the future.
3. Pray that God will allow you to share what you have learned, in a gentle,
humble way, to one person, or two. Remember – gently, humbly. Do not shout from the top of your church building, that everyone is wrong, you are right. Just find one person or two – or a small group – and quietly share what you have been learning. Quietly – slowly. Ask God to show you the right time, the right place. Do not rush into this. We are not guerillas who stage a revolution. We are ambassadors who want to light a candle. You cannot change the whole church overnight – whether your church has a pastor, or doesn’t have one.
4. The above points lead to this conclusion: Set realistic goals. Don’t try to fight
battles for which you have no army or ammunition. Don’t invest in business ventures for which you don’t have the capital. Don’t start a program for which you don’t have staff. Don’t attempt things for the Lord if you are not equipped yet. However, you can set realistic goals for yourself – what can you learn in the next 2 years? With whom can you work with, with whom can you share what you have learned, in the next 2 years? Set workable, realistic, measurable goals.
5. Then, re-evaluate everything you are doing. Can you reduce your load of
responsibilities? There are many things which are URGENT, but not VITAL (important). Vital (important) things are often not urgent. Try to see the difference, and drop some non-vital (but apparently urgent on the surface) things. Lighten your load; you can’t carry too many bags for this journey for the truth.
6. Take time to rest, to relax, to enjoy God and his creation. I don’t believe we
should be so rushed in our efforts to change the church, that we become tense, nervous – at the end of the day, bitter. Don’t go down that road. Enjoy God, and glorify him at the same time.
You say, “You don’t understand my situation! You don’t understand my church!” My answer is: I disagree (I Corinthians 10:13 again). All of us are awakened at some point or another in our lives, that the church is imperfect. You may be experiencing this awakening for the first time in your life. That’s OK, that’s God’s timing. Let God the Holy Spirit work in your life.
Remember, the gospel is about grace – God is very, very kind and gracious to us. He is gracious to you, to give you an awakening. Let God work in the lives of others, so that they can experience an awakening from God – not a rude awakening from you.
When God awakens, we are excited, we want to serve. When human beings give us a rude awakening in the flesh, we become nervous, and bitter. Can you see the difference between the two?
Which awakening have you experienced? Which awakening would you like to see in the lives of those around you?