This says what I have been thinking better than I can. This is from Jim Cymbala’s book, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire.
“In too many churches today, people don’t see manifestations of God’s power in answer to fervent praying. Instead, they hear arguments about theological issues that few people care about. On Christian radio and television, we are often merely talking to ourselves.
What we are dealing with today is an Old Testament ‘vow religion’ comprised of endless repetitions and commands to do all the right things. Modern preachers, like Moses, come down from the mount calling for commitment. Everyone says yes but then promptly breaks the vow within two days. There is little dependence on God’s power to make an ongoing difference. There is little calling upon God to revolutionize us in a supernatural way.
Jesus is saying today, as He said to the church at Sardis, ‘You have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God…But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief…He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches’ (Rev. 3:1-3,6)
Isn’t it remarkable that only two of the seven churches of Revelation (Pergamum and Thyatira) were scolded for false doctrine? Far more common was lack of spiritual vitality, of fervency, of closeness to the Lord. These are what the glorified Christ wanted to talk about most.
I am not advocating melodrama or theatrics that work up emotion. But I am in favor, as were the apostles, of asking God to stretch out His hand and manifest himself.
(He goes on) If we do not yearn and pray and expect God to stretch out his hand and do the supernatural, it will not happen. That is the simple truth of the matter. We must give him room to operate. If we go on, week after week, filling the time with religious lectures and nothing more, God has little opportunity in which to move.
So as long as we are busy polishing our oratory, the stage is entirely ours. Listen to the reproof of the great prophet of prayer E.M. Bounds more than a hundred years ago:
'Among things that hinder spiritual results, fine preaching must have place among the first. Fine preaching is that kind of preaching where the force of the preacher is expended to make the sermon great in thought, tasteful as a work of art, perfect as a scholarly production, complete in rhetorical finish, and fine in its pleasing and popular force.
In true preaching, the sermon proceeds out of the man. It is part of him, flowing out of his life. Fine preaching separates between the man and the sermon. Such sermons will make an impression, but it is not the impression that the Holy Ghost makes. Influence it may have, but the influence is not distinctly spiritual, if spiritual at all. These sermons do not reach the conscience, are not even aimed at it.'"
I have come to believe that the sermon has wrongly taken preeminence in the modern church. Why do we think that we must hear a lecture 3 times a week in order to grow? Not only that, but we only get one man's opinion on Biblical interpretation.
I can no longer go to a Sunday morning church service without being troubled by the impression that is given that we are doing something spiritual merely by attending. Where is the one-anothering in that?
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