We have been looking at the body of Christ in general in light of where we are going. As the great philosopher Yogi Berra once said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” We need to have a clear vision of where we are going, but to get there, we must know where we are. A map of our destination won’t do us much good if we can’t find our current location on the map.
Our goal for examining where we are now is not to become cynical, prideful, or even to have a better vision, but to have the Lord’s vision. He is our Captain and the One we are called to follow.
One of the greatest evangelists of our time once lamented that only about 5% of those who “make a decision for Christ” were added to the church. Though we should certainly rejoice over the 5%, in the early church, 100% of those who made this commitment were added to the church. What has caused such a difference?
As we have covered, the gospel message which has been watered down from, “He came to save us from our sins,” to “He came to save us from our troubles,” is a major one. When Jesus called people, He immediately warned them about the troubles that following Him would cause. He would never have told the lies that some do today to try and coerce people into making a decision like, “If you come to Jesus, He’ll take care of all your troubles.” He will take care of our troubles by leading us through them, but His reward for overcoming is to give us something more difficult to overcome. That is how you build the greatest army, and He is building the greatest army ever.
When I went through boot camp, each week was like a course. If you did not pass that week’s course, you did not move on with your company. Instead, you fell back to the company behind yours to take that course again. In fact, you kept repeating that course until you passed it. Boot camp was tough, but the Lord’s boot camp is even tougher. Wimps will not make it through God’s boot camp unless they become overcomers. Sadly, many Christians remain in a loop, repeating the same tests over and over while the Lord moves on with the original company. We can catch up to them, but we must pass the tests we are given.
I am not implying that all evangelists have watered down the call to follow Jesus, nor that those who have are the entire reason so few who decide to follow Christ are being added to the church and maturing. There are other reasons, such as those who make the decision to follow Jesus often being unable to find a fellowship where the Lord is leading.
If most churches today are filled with weak, lukewarm “believers,” it may be because they are following programs rather than Christ. Some programs are great, but others consist of a mixture of Christian and secular philosophies, which only serve as a substitute for Him. Today, many churches don’t even pretend to follow Jesus or use the Bible as their doctrinal source. As expected, it may be difficult to find the Lord in such places. Our choice to follow Jesus must always be our resolve. If we are not connected to a people who are following Emmanuel and not just a manual, we need to find a people who are truly following Jesus.
I am grateful for the opportunity to have had some of the greatest Christian leaders of today as friends, and I have discussed this with many of them. I was at first shocked to hear one say that only about 10% of what people call “the church” actually is the church. I once asked the Lord about this, and He confirmed. Most of what we consider churches are more like franchises, which He will bless as much as He can, but the Lord blesses many things He will not inhabit.
From the Scriptures, we know the Lord appreciates those who seek Him in any way, and to any degree, and He will bless that as much as He can, but He is still looking for a place to lay His head. He is looking for those who will be His dwelling place.