Today, I’d like to share with you what I think the Lord is saying about His Church in America. God wants His people to go deep and to go low.
By deep, I mean being rooted, anchored, fastened on Jesus. That only comes through investing time in fellowship with Him through prayer and reading His Word. Trees with shallow roots don’t survive adverse weather. Wind storms uproot them. During times of drought, if their roots don’t grow downward deeply enough to reach lower ground water levels, they dry up. But the Lord’s promise is, “If you will put your roots down deep in Me, I will water you.” If God’s people are to live a faithful testimony for Him in the days ahead, we are going to have to go deep in Him.
Going low is about humility. We don’t hear much from most of our pulpits or TV evangelists these days about emptying self and laying down our lives for others and for the Gospel. The incessant din in our ears is about being successful (usually meaning financially), about becoming influential, about me … me … me.
God does want us to be successful, but success in God’s eyes is not measured with the same yardstick our society uses. To hear our sermons, it would seem we’ve forgotten that. God’s measure of success is whether we are walking out our lives in obedience to Him, staying in the flow of constant communion with Him. He does promise to provide for us financially, and there is nothing wrong with having wealth, but some of the most successful and influential people in God’s eyes are Christians living in countries hostile to the Gospel, who have lost every material good for His Name’s sake. Some of them do their influencing in prisons, just as the Apostle Paul did. We must never forget that — or them.
Going low will involve some changes in the corporate Church. The Lord is going to simplify His Church down to the things that really matter. This will include getting back to core doctrine. Currently, we’ve got a mess on our hands, with twisted teaching abounding and even becoming mainstream. We are preaching on tangents, many of them questionable, instead of on God’s all-absorbing focus — Jesus. As in New Testament times, there are many who are “tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive” (Ephesians 4:14).
Deception will continue and worsen, because we are always moving further into the last days before Jesus’ return, but at the same time, the Spirit of Truth will strip away wrong teaching from those who are Jesus’ true followers. The Apostle John gives us a simple directive: “Let that therefore abide in you, which you have heard from the beginning. If what you have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, you also shall continue in the Son and in the Father” (1 John 2:24). “What you have heard from the beginning” refers to core doctrine — the tenets of the Faith which were laid out by Jesus and the original apostles. My frequent prayer is that the Lord will raise up many teachers of truth in our day, who will patiently re-instruct the Church in the simplicity of the Gospel.
As part of “going low,” I’ve been hearing that “trappings” in the Church will be stripped away. Our perceptions of how church must be done, how God can and cannot move, and what revival/awakening must look like are part of that.
We have grown used to superstar preachers, especially in Charismatic / Pentecostal circles, and we act like we think God can’t do without them. He can, and will. It is time for the hype and shenanigans to end. God is looking for people who don’t need the celebrity status, the title, or the recognition of men. He is looking for those who would rather die than usurp His glory unto themselves. Years ago, Dr. Michael Brown referred to these humble, God-focused people as “somebodies who become nobodies for the glory of God.” It was a nice thought on Dr. Brown’s part back then, but it is also the reality of what must come.
Does this mean that current ways of carrying out church life will completely disappear? Probably not. God often seems to let the old go on as it always has, while He brings forth something new quite apart from the old, right in the midst of it. The picture that comes to my mind is of land covered with old vegetation that is dying, but with new, green shoots relentlessly pushing their way to the surface through the old.
Yet, not all of the old is bad. Timeless traditions founded on the Word of God will never become passé. We’ve heard some rather loudly proclaim their disdain for all that is old, scorning anything that has stood the test of time as “dead religion.” That position is not in line with the wisdom of God. Patterns which are from the Lord will endure or, if already lost, will be restored.
Ultimately, the changes that need to take place can only be accomplished by the Holy Spirit. He is the One Who adjusts hearts, promotes and demotes, and drives the circumstances which bring the Father’s purposes into being.
Our part is to cooperate with the Lord by interceding for His desires for His Church to be fulfilled, and by committing to personally going deep and low. God works out His purposes for His Church as a whole through the individuals within that Body who will offer yielded hearts to Him.