495: The Church and the Higher Christian Life
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Can God Do Today What He Did Back Then?
One of the great longings of those the Lord used mightily in the last church age is the fullness, or baptism, of the Holy Spirit. No, we’re not talking about loopy believers today who claim something their life doesn’t exhibit. We are talking about the heroes of old, those like D.L. Moody, Charles Spurgeon, Andrew Murray, Oswald Chambers, Charles Finney, Amy Carmichael, and so many others. Each of these great servants of God testifies to their deep longing and ultimate baptism of the Holy Spirit that they claim was the source and power for all that God did through them and led to what they called the Higher Christian Life.
But what about us? And what about the church? How does our view and participation in church impact the Higher Christian Life? Does it help? Or does it hurt?
Take a moment and think about how we “do” church today. See if any of these ring true to you.
• The “church” is primarily defined as a building, institution, or tax-exempt entity.
• The members of a church meet in a neutral building.
• Almost all ministry and fellowship takes place in the neutral building.
• Almost all relationships are forged by shared activities in the neutral building.
• There is usually a corporate model of top-down leadership within the church.
• The Sunday morning worship service is primarily designed as a time of musical performance (concert), corporate singing, and teaching and is designed to make the congregation feel comfortable.
• The structure of the facility seating models an educational institution and not a family.
• Primarily, the pace of the teaching is on a “C” level.
• Participation is the goal, not measurable growth.
• Much of the focus is not on the individual believer but on the entity of the “church” (lesser serves the greater).
• Paid professionals perform those required tasks often neglected by the fathers in their own families.
• Self-promotion and marketing are usually designed to point people to the church and not to Christ.
• Most preaching is about personal “felt” needs.
• Church usually meets once a week on Sunday for less than two hours.
• Sometimes, a mid-week Bible study or small group meets with an attendance of less than 5% of those who come on Sunday.
• Women are far more likely to attend and take part in church functions than men.
And if you compare this picture of the church today to what we see in the New Testament, especially in the Book of Acts, you may come to the troubling conclusion that the modern, Western, contemporary idea of the church may be the greatest hindrance to experiencing the Higher Christian Life.
But first, let’s address the elephant in the room by answering the most pressing question. What is the Higher Christian Life?
What is the Higher Christian Life?
To answer, I’ll borrow from an earlier post.
If you are like me and most believers that I know, our spiritual life has been a series of ups and downs, peaks and valleys, two steps forward followed by two steps back, and is less than what we would call abundant. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about our salvation or the grace of God so lavished upon us by the sacrifice of His Son. I’m talking about living a life of holiness, a life of sanctification, living as someone “set apart” for God’s holy purpose, a life surrendered to Him only to be selfishly reclaimed whenever things get tough, or painful, or boring. And for me, this is less than what Jesus promised and less than I am willing to live with.
And this life so described, a life of holiness, devotion, sanctification, and surrender is the Higher Christian Life. It is, in actuality, the life we were created to live. Or, as Watchman Nee calls it, the “Normal Christian Life.” This is the goal. This is our destiny, our birthright.
The question is always, how? How do we live a life of victory over sin and the flesh? How do we have the indescribable peace that Jesus promised? How do we trust and rest and abide in Him? How do we do all the things we have tried before and failed without failing once again? How do we experience the Spirit in our lives as others have testified? How to embrace the Higher Christian Life?
How do we live the Higher Christian Life?
If you have pondered these very questions, join with us as we commit to daily discovering the joy of the Higher Christian Life.