I believe we are in a new season. The men of Issachar (1 Chronicles 12:32) “understood the times and knew what to do”. Ours is a time that calls for that wisdom.
For the past 15-20 years, I have been increasingly burdened that we have entered into a new season and yet churches I led and the general church in America were missing the wind of our moment. Now, I am certain of it. The Body of Christ simply must understand our assignment in this present hour. Here, in short, is my conviction:
“The church in America, in its desire to be relevant and reach people, has exchanged message for methodology and presence for programs. Our present hour calls us to shift the atmosphere in culture and in our churches so that the life of Jesus is manifested in all we do. This season demands that we demonstrate the grace and truth of Jesus in every sphere of society as Spirit empowered sons and daughters of the Most High God”.
In this short article, I do not have time to unpack all of what that means for us in everyday life, but let me at least establish an outline of sorts for your consideration:
- The Kingdom of God touches every sphere of society and beyond. The universe is His. The church has often limited itself to the building and to its activities as an organization. We are called to be the church and the church is both gathered for worship and teaching and fellowship and scattered for witness and ministry.
- Those of us who are in the Protestant stream have said we believed in the priesthood of all believers. But we have not practiced that very well. We have allowed ourselves to maintain a very structured system. Ephesians 4 calls us all to do the work of the ministry and for the five fold ministry to equip the Body to do that work
- There is no sacred/secular divide. All of life is sacred (see #1 above). Because all of life is sacred, every follower of Jesus is “on mission” and “fully employed” when they are at home, at work, in the community, or doing recreation. The life of Jesus in us and through us is a 24-7 experience (Colossians 3:23)
- North American society is desperate not for “what works”, but for what is “real”. Real men and women who have experienced the power of life change by an encounter with Jesus Christ will live such transformed lives (not perfect, but transforming!) that the power of their testimony is compelling.
I can think of no greater reality of this shifting season in our present reality than the need for followers of Jesus to engage in the “public square”. Our society desperately needs deeply devoted followers of Jesus in the classroom, in government, in arts/media and entertainment, in health care, in church, and in families. When we see Spirit empowered men and women living out their daily relationship with Jesus, speaking and loving people full of grace and truth, then atmospheres shift and life begins to flow.
Four passages of Scripture have been particularly compelling to me of late: We are in a Matthew 5 (being salt and light in the world so that people glorify our Father) and Matthew 25 (meeting needs in the name of Jesus and serving Him as we serve them) season. Further, we are in an Acts 2 calling time for the church (God was adding to their number daily those who were being saved, signs and wonders were taking place, and they were having favor with all the people) and we live in an Ephesians 6 world (we are in a spiritual battle and we do not fight against flesh and blood; people are not our enemies, but the spiritual forces are).
In my role as a College President, I am regularly called upon to be in relationship with, speak to and write about, people and causes that are oppositional and often divisive. I regularly pray for the Spirit of God to live in and through me in such a way that people are won by the grace and truth of Jesus. Will you join me in this new season, both by engaging in the public square in whatever assignment He has given you, and live in a Spirit empowered way so that the grace and truth of Jesus might shift the atmosphere of every room and setting in which you are involved?
I’m convinced we are in a new season and the time for shifting atmospheres for His glory has come!