I’ve been preaching through the book of Acts this school year. Each week, we’ve been walking through the story of how the church exploded onto the first century scene. It’s been awesome to see how the church advanced the cause of Christ despite the opposition they faced from both Roman and Jewish authorities. The Spirit within them kept compelling them forward and obliterating the many obstacles they faced. But last night I mentioned that Acts isn’t just about the history of the church ~ it’s about the future of the church!
We have the same Spirit within us today that turned Saul into Paul.
We have the same Spirit that enabled Stephen to speak boldly and even face death with courage.
We have the same Spirit that drew thousands to turn from their sins, lay aside their differences and bias against each other, and follow Christ together.
It’s the Spirit who can enable us to truly love people who are not like us.
It’s the Spirit who fills us with the courage we need to follow Christ and speak boldly even when it’s socially safer to stay quiet and go with the flow.
It’s the Spirit who transforms us and makes beauty of our broken pieces.
I think we’re at a critical point in the church today. Western culture is leaning farther from the Truth the church embraces, losing interest in anything the church is doing, and increasingly taking an oppositional stance toward the church as a whole. We can lament the rise in cultural opposition and the moral decline of society… We can ineffectively cling to a past when the church was the center of society… We can complain that no one listens anymore, that no one cares what God says… OR We can recall that the Spirit of Jesus is still living and moving among His people. We can re-engage the world with the Life they are looking for. And we can re-envigorate our missional muscles as we learn to actually love our neighbor in a spiritual climate that is a lot like the one faced by the early church.
The future is bright for the church. Not because of great new technologies or techniques (while those are awesome and need to be utilized to the full), but because of the Holy Spirit breathing life to the world through us. The next generations of the church may look a lot different than the past several. My prayer (and what I’ve worked toward for the last 15 years) is that whatever outward forms we can see, that inwardly they are a church marked by the Spirit, truly led by Jesus, and characterized most obviously by our Father’s love for the lost.