As we look at the early Church in the book of Acts in the Bible we are confronted with the incredible growth and phenomenal impact this new movement had on the world in those first few hundred years. All of that changed when the Church was lured into a new paradigm by the Roman Emperor at the time and we adopted the ways of the world and let go of the very things which brought success in those early days. That unbelievable growth rate together with the unprecedented influence the Church had on the world was sacrificed and we have been paying the price ever since. The experience of Church we have known in our lifetime is radically different.
So why is that such a big deal? The Church is still here and we still have people coming to faith and embracing the gospel of Jesus Christ, albeit not at the same rate they were in the beginning. Surely it’s a good thing that the Church has not disappeared all together. Is it really a big deal that we don’t have the influence we once had in the world? I guess it all depends of what you think the Church is here for and what you think God expects of the Church in any age. What is our purpose? Is growing the Church an end in itself? Or does God have a much higher and broader expectation for the disciples of Jesus Christ? Well you may need to brace yourself for what I say next. God’s expectations for the Church Jesus promised to build are far greater than most of us would ever imagine. In fact, God expects His people to be the means by which He solves ALL the problems of the world. When you look across the earth today and see the level of dysfunction, moral decay, corruption and evil, do you realise that God is expecting His people to rise up and fulfil their calling so He can solve all those problems through the Church?
I would like to point you to a verse which I believe is perhaps the most important verse in the Bible for the Church of today. Even though it was written over 2,400 years ago in a very different setting to that in which we find ourselves today, it is one of those verses which transcends time, culture and location. That’s because it contains a promise from God which has never been withdrawn and is even more relevant today than when these words were first uttered.
2 Chronicles 7:14 “If my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.”
I have never seen a time in my life, when there was a greater need for the healing of nations, the healing of cities, the healing of the land. This verse has never been more in our face than it is today. Now, as I am sure you know, there are certain words from the Lord that are so inconvenient that they’re easy to ignore, or just bypass. They are so demanding that they are easy to downplay or relegate to a specific group of people other than ourselves. This verse is such a word. Please note that God did not say, “If the pagan sinners would just stop sinning, I’ll heal the land.” Note that God also did not say, “If those in authority who are making ungodly decisions and infecting the mindsets of the people, if they would repent, then I’ll heal the land.” He didn’t say that. He actually said, “If my people … will do what only they can do … then I will heal their land.”
It almost sounds as if God is saying the fate of the whole world rests in the hands of His people. That’s because that is the truth. We actually hold the key to every problem on this planet. We live and move and have our being within the only One Who can ever redeem God’s people, transform nations and heal our land. The degree to which you embrace the equipping of God will determine what happens not just in your life and your Church – but in your whole community and nation – as together, we touch heaven and change earth every day in so many ways.