Crazy for God?
Five hundred years ago spiritual heroes such as Martin Luther, Jan Has, William Tyndale and John Wycliffe stood against the European tyranny of religious greed, fear, control and heresy by writing the first "common tongue" translations of the Bible, putting them in the hands of the ordinary man and preaching justification by grace, through faith alone.
Wycliffe also trained up a band of preachers that travelled town-to-town across the UK proclaiming the gospel and winning the lost. Wycliffe obeyed the Great Commission and paved the way for the other great pioneers of the reformation. All four were declared heretics by the church, their writings were outlawed and Tyndale and Hus were both burnt at the stake in their forties.
Now it is our time to stand up as reformers and leaders in a season of tremendous moral declension, spiritual confusion and national and international 'shaking'.
God wants to kick the church out of the church! When we read about Jesus and the early apostles we see they were almost never in a formal church meeting. Christianity is not about church attendance, it is about becoming like Christ. The early apostles were church, full time – His body, His hands and feet, His mouth proclaiming the gospel, touching the sick, driving out demons and raising dead people. It was messy, dangerous and glorious, and it all played out among the people on the streets as the kingdom of God crashed in supernaturally, “turning the world upside down” (Acts 17:6). These early apostles and pioneers of the reformation turned the world upside down. Today it could be argued that swathes of the Bride of Christ are being turned upside down by the world.
The Great Commission hasn’t changed, but today it takes holy rebellion to swim against the tide of stuffy, pew-warming religion and be about the Lord’s business in the chaotic, perishing sea of humanity. The Church is not as a pleasure cruiser but a lifeboat. Dr Vance Havner writes,
“It is not our business to make the message acceptable, but to make it available. We are not to see that they like it, but that they get it.”
I was at a drinks party the other evening, chatting to a lovely Christian couple when the man piped up enthusiastically, “Oh, you're that crazy street preacher aren't you?”
“Arguably,” I replied, rather dryly.
It's interesting to me that in the Church we are quick to label something commanded multiple times by Jesus as “crazy”, rather than, for example, “faithful” or “obedient”. The man was kind and certainly not intending to be unhelpful, but it gave me pause for thought. I believe it's time for “crazy” to become “normal”!
One day our whole lives will be evaluated and measured by the weight of our faithfulness to Jesus Christ and our love for souls. Dr W.E. Sangster has a sobering thought: “How shall I feel at the judgment, if multitudes of missed opportunities pass before me … and all my excuses prove to be disguises of my cowardice and pride?”
Finally, meditate upon this thought from Leonard Ravenhill: “Could a mariner sit idle if he heard the drowning cry? Could a doctor sit in comfort and just let his patients die? Could a fireman sit idle, let men burn and give no hand? Can you sit at ease in Zion with the world around you damned?”