Last Sunday, God was dealing with me about people in congregations hiding inside the church so they can avoid persecution from the world. Truthfully, it's a slap in the face to Christian missionaries who are ministering outside our country and are dying by the dozens for their faith in Christ. And even worse, church leaders are advocating congregations to hide in the church or don't stray too far from the church. The underlying message is that we need you to witness to fund the local church. And if the church is under budget, it means that the congregation is not witnessing to bring bodies in to balance the budget.
Jesus said in Mathew 28:19-20: 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."
Notice what Jesus did not say. He did not say to make church members of all nations, baptizing them in the name of your local church. He said, you are the salt of the earth, not the salt of the church. Now I'm not saying that everyone needs to leave their church and that there is no need for a local church. We need that and we need to fund local churches. The focus is on priorities - His mission and not funding the church due to a deficit. Sometimes we read passages in the New Testament as a way to get people to do missions for the benefit of the local church focusing on church membership and not on a person's salvation.
The question I pose is how are we going to reach the world if we're hiding in our church? And how are we preaching the gospel if the emphasis is on church growth? It's sad when Christians are coming from places where they are being persecuted and ministering Christ to us in our own country.
The reason so many are hiding in the church is because their respective social clique is there; they want their special seat in the church; it's comfortable and their family's salvation is secure; they can continually be spiritually fed and not have to share the Good News to others. And for the record, if you are witnessing to someone and the focus is inviting to church without being concerned about their salvation (of if salvation is hinged on them attending your particular church), you are technically hiding in your church.
For many of us in our respective churches, He is calling us out into the world to reach them. You have gifts that need to touch the world. You can't do that hiding in your church (yes, God is calling some of you to use your gifts specifically for your respective church, and praise God for that). But for everyone to keep hiding in the church is a sad indictment on those dying for their faith.
When the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit in Acts 2, they stayed in Jerusalem afterwards. It took Stephen's death for them to get out and scatter (as Christ told them to before He went back to heaven). Sadly, God has to allow things to happen to get our attention; I pray this would encourage us to be proactive. The world is more in need of us than ever before.
The Mayne Man