Survival.

The challenge we face, as people and churches, in our fight to survive:

“The ‘ultimate concern’ of most church members is not the worship and service of Christ in evangelistic mission and social compassion, but rather survival and success in their secular vocation. The church is a spoke on the wheel of life connected to the secular hub. It is a departmental sub-concern, not the organizing center of all other concerns. Church members who have been conditioned all their lives to devote themselves to building their own kingdom and whose flesh naturally gravitates in that direction anyway find it hard to invest much energy in the kingdom of God.

They go to church once or twice a week and punch the clock, so to speak, fulfilling their ‘church obligation’ by sitting passively and listening critically or approvingly to the pastor’s teaching. Sometimes with great effort they can be maneuvered into some active role in the church’s program, like a trained seal in a circus act, but their hearts are not fully in it. They may repeat the catchwords of the theology of grace, but many have little deep awareness they and other Christians are ‘accepted in the beloved.’ Since their understanding of justification is marginal or unreal – anchored not to Christ but to some conversion experience in the past or to an imagined present state of goodness in their lives – they know little of the dynamic of justification.

Their understanding of sin focuses upon behavioral externals which they can eliminate from their lives by a little will power and ignores the great submerged continents of pride, covetousness and hostility beneath the surface. Thus their pharisaism defends them both against full involvement in the church’s mission and against full subjection of their inner lives to the authority of Christ.”
—Richard Lovelace, Dynamics of Spiritual Renewal, page 204-05.

Questions » How do you see this in your own heart? In your community?

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Our God Above.

Our God Above,” a song of God-centered renewal, from Andy Melvin’s album The Human Engine Waits:

Come and fill us Father
with Your living water
’cause these wells we’ve dug are dry
the world we have befriended
has left us empty-handed
and only You can satisfy
 
as we return to You
our spirits are renewed
and our hearts are moved to worship You alone
 
our God above
we lift You up
to the place that You deserve
within our hearts
and we glorify
the Lord on high
You have no equal on the earth
No equal on the earth
 
Lord, we claim the promise
that the work You started
You’ll be faithful to complete
so we trust in Your might as we offer our lives
as a living sacrifice of praise to You
 
and we! declare! our love! to You!
yeah we! declare! our love! to You!
 

Live recording of “Nothing Compares” by Andy Melvin and the Unlikely Sons [see in HD]:

Only a fraction.

“Only a fraction of the present body of professing Christians are solidly appropriating the justifying work of Christ in their lives. Many … have a theoretical commitment to this doctrine, but in their day-to-day existence they rely on their sanctification for justification … drawing their assurance of acceptance with God from their sincerity, their past experience of conversion, their recent religious performance or the relative infrequency of their conscious, willful disobedience. Few know enough to start each day with a thoroughgoing stand upon Luther’s platform: you are accepted, looking outward in faith and claiming the wholly alien righteousness of Christ as the only ground for acceptance, relaxing in that quality of trust which will produce increasing sanctification as faith is active in love and gratitude.”

Richard F. Lovelace, Dynamics of Spiritual Life: An Evangelical Theology of Renewal (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1979), 101 (emphasis added).