Saul, seethed, anger seemed to exude from every part of his body. The followers of Jesus seemed to be growing by the day, despite him hunting them down like dogs. He had been dragging them before the Sanhedrin and there were few stones left unturned in Jerusalem. Why were they so intent on following some dead prophet!
He had now gained permission from the Sanhedrin to travel to outlying towns, to further squash the rebellion and bring the followers of Jesus to account.
Travelling the road to Damascus, the thoughts continued to irritate his soul. He had thought once Jesus was dead, his followers would just disperse as they always had. Instead they seemed to surge like a growing flood.
'Well not for much longer if I have my way'.
Little did he know, his world was about to be shaken to it's core.
...so begins the story of one of God's most memorable and recorded followers, the man called Paul.
I often wonder what the early followers of Jesus would think of the church if they were able to talk to us now. The church has become too much like the world around us. Instead of being set apart and different to what the world around us would have us be, be have gradually and sadly become a mere shadow of what we are destined to become.
The Kingdom of God, is one of faith and power, both of which have been stripped from the church with such seduction, that we have relished in the experience. We are too comfortable in our safe and unchallenged version of the gospel and have put on new robes to fit better into the age in which we now find ourselves.
Since we have begun our journey to serve God in missions, I have been constantly challenged by the many hoops that we have had to jump through in order to prove ourselves worthy of service. It has taken vast amounts of money, numerous interviews, applications, pshcye tests, medicals upon medicals, training and testing, all to bring us to a point of asking 'What does Jesus think?' I doubt that Paul would ever have made it through the psyche evaluation, to serve in missions today. It saddens me to think that someone who is called by God to serve in this way, might be turned away because they do not have the funds, medical approval or worldly aptitude to be up to the task. God does not look to the outer man, but looks deep down into your heart. He sees your faithfulness and your obedience and He is uses this for His glory. He is not as interested in what percentage you got on your latest exam and if your left eye is marginally stronger than your right, whether you are a fisherman or a tax collector. I cannot believe that he is happy with the way the world has overcome the church, and emasculated it of it's freedom in Christ, and power through faith. It is God who transforms and prepares, not man made and man led organisations.
I wonder if the church in Australia and around the world was not so bound by it's love of the world and it's ways, would we see the Kingdom of God come on the earth? Would we see the captives set free because they see a different way to live, the only way to live?
I don't know where our journey with missions will end up, but I do know that God has called us to serve; this is unmistakable. The desire burns in my spirit like hot coals aflame with fire. Don and I both feel the urgency. God's desire to see His church do His will, will prevail. God always keeps His word, He is not a man that He should lie. The scripture below has been resonating in my heart today, as my frustrations grew. The words were like honey to my soul.
Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.(1 Corintians:27)
Please pray for us, that God would make the paths straight and that His will for us to serve him in this way will prevail. We feel the resistance, but step forward each day in faith knowing who fights for us.
This post is not a reflection of any particular missions organisation but a general observation made over many years. It is not written to offend, but as a reflection.