Like me, I bet you know people who are like the pessimistic Eeyore. All they can do is murmur and grumble and see the negative in EVERY thing in life…. They are always low. Clarification here – I’m not talking about feeling low and discouraged time to time as talking about things is very much part of healing. Nor am I talking about identifying negative situations which is the first step to addressing and dealing with the situation. What I am referring to here, is the constant moaning and complaining and having a pity party with no intention of even exploring how things can be rectified. These people just don’t seem to be able to count their blessings, none at all. They are alive physically but they appear dead emotionally and spiritually.
There is yet another category of people who are alive and buzzing with activity after activity. They simply can’t sit still and will be running from one place to another. It is quite likely that they are alive physically, very much alive… but sadly dead spiritually.
It is difficult to be a perfectionist or to be hyper wanting to achieve one thing after another with an eye to minute details and yet be truly spiritual. We are too busy DOING that we just can’t HEAR. I’m reminded of the sketch of a sheep lying cosily on a deck chair watching TV, listening to an i-pod, typing on a laptop keyboard and with a mobile phone close by. The sheep wonders to itself why it hasn’t heard the Shepherd’s voice as of late.
How can we when there are so many competing voices – the wires that we are connected to transmit to us opposing messages, we then have our peer pressures and family expectations and church traditions… For all we know the sheep in the picture may be listening to all ‘godly’ things… and is actually reading on being a sheep! We are so busy DOING things even perhaps under the pretence of ministry… But to God all these things are in vain if He isn’t in the centre, if He isn’t the one who called us to do what we are doing.
“Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labour in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain” – Psalm 127:1.
It’s easy to run ahead of God and do something for Him but as the Psalmist mentions, that’s in vain unless He is the one behind it.
A church can be so busy “doing”, involved in one program after the other, being totally alive. Energy and buzz defines them. However as a result of these activities, it often fails to do the very thing it was ordained for. The two greatest commandments are to love God with all that you have and to love your neighbour as yourself. If the Body of Christ doesn’t have time for one another, to see to each other’s needs, and especially if the leadership doesn’t have time for the members, then the church is doing something drastically wrong. Exchanging pleasantries is on the surface if it doesn’t go to the next step of action. The shepherd is called to tend to the lamb and the sheep… This has to be on a holistic level – not only spiritually but also physically and emotionally. If programs and activities are taking up their time – to prepare and implement it at the expense of tending the lamb and sheep, then they are sinning against God. When the love of God flows, there will be FRUIT (the fruit of the Holy Spirit will be inevitable) which also means growth and unity. It doesn’t mean numbers in a program but rather a HEALTHY church.
A shepherd trying to step into other callings especially that of an evangelist and apostles, is like the ear trying to perch itself in the eye socket to do the seeing! The ear isn’t designed to carry out the function of the eye. Simple! Then the blind is literally leading the blind. Or perhaps the shepherd is in the wrong place to begin with. Ezekiel 34 issues a warning against shepherds whose sheep are scattered and without a sheep. It could be that a church lacks a pastor but it also could mean that there are pastors but the pastors aren’t attentive to the sheep’s needs (physical, emotional and spiritual) as they are caught up with activity and show. Ezekiel also warns of the shepherd using the sheep for his own gain. We see that happening with many churches emphasising or rather demanding giving to the church. The shepherd withholds care to the sheep that don’t “give” to the church. Any sheep would love the shepherd that loves them. We love our Good Shepherd because He loved us first.
Jesus rebukes the church in Sardis, “I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.” He warns them, “Wake up, strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent” (Revelation 3:1-3).
Jesus warns us to REMEMBER what we have RECEIVED AND HEARD. Whatever we do should be focused on God’s Word… obeying what God’s Word tells us to do.
Another example is the healing meeting. These are conducted with much hype and are lively… Do the people who receive miracles know what to expect after becoming a believer? Do they know that suffering or rather having trouble is a very much part of the Christian walk? Or are they sent off with the understanding that a Christian means receiving blessings and that life will become smooth and lovely? The Word of God given without understanding is like the seed falling on the path – that the evil one readily snatches away (Matthew 13). Text out of context is pretext.
We can be very much alive in ministry, but very much dead spiritually.
We may fool others, we may fool ourselves but God isn’t fooled… We need to always check our deeds and examine it against God’s Word in its entirety. (Isolated verses can easily distort God’s Word). We need to meditate on scripture, obey it and repent… Else we will not know whether we are physically alive but yet spiritually dead. Remember prophecies and ‘gifts’ can also be exercised without knowing Jesus (Matthew 7:22-23) or it could be of evil spirits… Even the evil spirits knew Jesus, obviously! Let’s be warned and get our acts together NOW before it’s too late.
No, it’s not all doom for all! There is hope – as Jesus also mentions that there are a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes!
There is a minority who will for sure walk with Jesus and are worthy!