An Urgent Word for the American Church on Simplicity

May 5th, 2011 by

Editor’s Note: Guest article from David Popovici of FIRE School of Ministry: Chicago.

“But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ”.

2Corinthians 11:3

After a recent ministry trip to the Middle East, I came back both encouraged and stirred with an urgent sobriety. I was encouraged by what God is doing in the region; there is a lot more happening on the ground than what your local news channel is broadcasting, you can be assured of that.  As a matter of fact, God has His own “news” channel, namely the born-again, Spirit-filled believers that are both living out and propagating His gospel in the midst of an unfriendly world. I am excited by the fact that, in spite of the coming persecution and the tribulation, the world has not yet seen, nor can it even conceive what God has in store in these last days. To quote Mike Bickle “In the last days God is going to pour upon His Church both the miracles of the Exodus and the book of Acts.” Not just healings and miracles backing the message but even nature-defying acts that will distinguish us from all others, just as He did for the nation of Israel during their liberation. This definitely gives us a lot to anticipate with excitement, and at the same time a lot for which to prepare.

Yet while so many are losing their lives for their testimony of Christ, often we find in our Western circles so many deviant pursuits. Not necessarily malicious or sinful ones, but secondaryI often wonder how much of our “gospel,” the things we stress as “the epicenter” of the Kingdom, are actually relevant to our brothers and sisters all over the world. Many of these persecuted, wonder-working, Christ-like ones of which I speak, who are leading Churches, are not good readers, properly educated or even sufficiently financed. Nonetheless they are childlike and meek, filled with faith and courage and declaring the message of Christ with love and power as they invest their lives into saving the lost and building Christ’s Church. I submit that to our own detriment, it seems we in America have graduated from simplicity. I am not saying anything against theological schools; I graduated from one, nor against credentials or ordinations; I myself am ordained. Yet at the foundation of the faith, namely the one that is built upon Christ the Chief Cornerstone, lie the building blocks that God hand picked to build His church; fishermen and tax-collectors. I am in no way proposing that to be in a lower class in life, that you are more spiritual. Like Dr. Brown used to tell us in school, “you’re not more spiritual for driving an old Pinto or less for driving a new Toyota.” However, it seems as if simplicity is something that often eludes us in the more “mature” circles. The reason I put “mature” in quotations is because it is often our own estimation of maturity. Proverbs 11:30 states that those truly wise “win souls.” Paul said to the Corinthians that the highest wisdom is in fact the Cross of Christ; a message of weakness and foolishness.

We need a fresh encounter with God, and the only kind I know of are the ones marked by the Cross and that flame from Pentecost. This God who entered our world and the Holy Spirit, who infuses the life of God within like nothing else. I submit that it is time for many of our more learned brethren to come down from their ivory towers of “maturity” and become practitioners of that which they critique and interpret. I would not go to the Sahara desert to learn about gardening or vegetation, so why would I turn to a critical and dried out brother to tell me anything of Christ, His Kingdom or the Holy Ghost? And with all humility dear brothers, if that last statement offended you, you might be one.

Paul tells the Ephesians to “not be drunk with wine, but be filled with the Spirit.”

That says a couple of things to me; this is a negative command and a positive command. Something to avoid and something to do. I believe we can and should stay continually filled with Him who is Divine Life. This, my dear brothers, is MORE than just a positional truth. You can say “I AM FILLED” all you want and not be, just like a man can say “I AM DRUNK” and not be until he actually drinks in excess.

The Cross-gives us the right and privilege of partaking, it doesn’t force it down our throats.

A grape needs a wine press to produce wine and a Christian needs the Cross-to show forth the Spirit Life. I believe in drinking of the presence of God in order to stay filled with His life, joy, peace, power, love, righteousness, etc. However, some of our brethren,  claim to drink continually of Christ, yet by no means seem affected by the potency of what they claim to ingest. As a man who was saved from a wickedly sinful life, I know what it’s like to be physically drunk. Alcohol changes your perception, affects judgment, emotions and even gives you a reckless courage to do what you otherwise would not have done. After a life devoted to substance abuse, you are rewarded with a wrecked liver at the least. I wonder how one might drink of the Spirit and not adopt Christ’s eternal perspective, the Cross’ value system and partake of the emotions of God. Or perhaps a boldness to preach the Gospel to a world on its way to hell or to take hold of a paralytic and command him to walk in Jesus name. Or how about our insides being ruined by God, for the Kingdoms sake. If not, I question what you’re drinking or what you’re mixing it with.

Brothers, though a physician’s goal is the same for all patients, the medicine he prescribes is not always the same. To quote Dr. Brown again, “It’s never wise to major on the minors or minor on the majors.” How much of what we major on and pursue, build and fight for, will actually last in eternity? How much of it reflects the Gospel and the life of the early Church? I don’t think it’s a complex question, rather a simple one. Simple enough for even a child to understand.

 

David Popovici is an evangelist and teacher at FIRE School of Ministry: Chicago.
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