Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Times They Are A-Changin'

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’
I grew up hearing Bob Dylan on the radio, a folk singer and eclectic songwriter whose insightful words and influential music in many ways defined a generation. The generation he spoke to experienced a dramatic and historical shift in the status quo.  The ‘60’s was a time of religious, political, and social turmoil. The culture-altering events that transformed America--and the world--during that decade produced long-lasting repercussions that are being felt even today, much like the ongoing aftershocks of a major earthquake.
           In many ways the Church is in the process of undergoing an equally radical transformation, one that will impact every aspect of our lives in the years and decades to come, should Christ tarry.  The words from Dylan’s song The Times They are A-Changin’ are as prophetic today for the Body of Christ as they were for the secular culture of the ‘60’s.
         We are living in the most profound time since Jesus walked among men and proclaimed that He is the Son of God. Even though Scripture tells us that no man knows the day or the hour of Christ’s return, we are expected to be aware of the season, and we’ve been given signposts to alert us to its imminence. Those of us who comprise the Body of Christ are also being drawn closer to our Heavenly Father than we have ever been.  Because of His passionate desire for intimacy with us, He is making Himself available to us in extraordinary and unique ways, just as He did when His Son first came and walked among us.  Yet, many in the Body resist the current move of Holy Spirit, because it doesn’t fit into their religious concept of who God is and how He demonstrates Himself among the people.
 The result is that much of the Church, especially in the West, is asleep. The challenge that faces us is whether or not we’re going to wake up from our slumber and “start swimmin’” or “sink like a stone” in the River of Life He is pouring out through and upon us.

            What do I mean by that?
            A wise mentor once remarked that “Many in the Body of Christ today continually seek God’s hand.  Few truly seek His face.”  Many pastors have become so “seeker-friendly” they now preach “another gospel,” one in which sin has no place, where the fear of the Lord is absent, and where it’s more important to be socially and politically correct than to be salt and light to a dying world.
Those who sit by and embrace a watered-down gospel risk much.
We know from Scripture that the pathway of righteousness is a narrow road, one that can only be walked upon by daily taking up our own personal cross and allowing Holy Spirit to increase in us so that we might decrease.  We are called to “die daily” to those things which distract us from an intimate relationship with Christ, and to encourage one another in the Faith. We are also called to spiritually separate ourselves from the world. This is sanctification. The process of being set apart spiritually from the world, first by salvation, then by “working out our salvation with fear and trembling”, and finally being fully transformed into His likeness and glory, separated from sin for all eternity.  Yet, sadly, many resist this process, choosing instead to pick and choose those aspects of Christianity that appeal to their soul, rejecting anything their soul does not delight in, as if their Faith was a buffet.
 It’s never easy choosing the road less traveled, especially when that choice brings you into continual conflict with most everyone around you. Thankfully, we not only have someone to look to who successfully walked that road, but also someone who, because of His success, gained the legal right to be our advocate on a daily basis.
Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is rapidly agin’
Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’
  There is a generation arising who are not satisfied with the status quo.  They look at the hypocrisy they see within the Body and want no part of it.  They look at the lack of power and true spiritual authority and dare to ask “Why is it absent when it’s promised to us?” They hunger for Truth and Righteousness and will pay any price to have it.  These are the spiritual “rabble rousers” of our day.  They are the ones, like Jan Huss, John Wycliff, Martin Luther, John Calvin, and others, who will bring about a Reformation in the Church.  They are the ones willing to take on the religious spirit that has deafened, and blinded, and caused much of the Church to fall into a deep slumber.  They are not afraid to call it for what it is and do whatever Holy Spirit guides them to do to defeat it, regardless of the consequences.
Look around you this coming Sunday in church.  Can you identify the “rabble rousers?”  Can you identify those who want more than the “same old same old” every Sunday?  Are you one of them?  If not, why?  Are you content with the status quo, or do you long for something more.  I challenge you to take a realistic, truthful look at yourself.  Do you have the kind of Faith that inspires others to greatness in Christ?  Do you walk the kind of walk that causes the lost to say, “I don’t know what you have, but I want it--”?  Do you most often seek God’s hand, or His face?  Are you prepared to risk whatever your soul finds desirable in order to follow Christ?

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