Wednesday, January 5, 2011

What's your reputation?

I did not make it all the way through the Bible in a year. I did it last year (2009) but got off track this year (2010). But thats ok, I am still reading and I am still learning and being challenged by the Word. Last week I was reading in I Thesalonians and came across the following passage:
I Thesalonains 1: 4 - 8 -  4 For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. 6 You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. 7 And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. 8 The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. 
This is Paul writing to the church in Thesalonica maybe a year or so after he preached there (See Acts 17: 1-4). As I read this I wondered how many churches Paul could send this letter to today. How many churches are living a life so radically different from what the world thinks of, that their faith is known everywhere. Not the size of their congregation, not the coolness of their pastor or the type of music they play but the faith of the Believers. Could he send this letter to your church? If you are not a follower of Christ is there a church in your community where the people who attend are so radically different that the last thing you could say about them is they are a bunch of hypocrites? 

As I chewed on this passage I was reminded of what Christ said when he cleansed the temple:
Mark 17: 15 - 17 - 15 On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, 16 and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. 17 And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: “‘My house will be called  a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’”
It has got to start with prayer. So I dug a little deeper and looked at some of the prayers of Paul:
Ephesians 1: 15 - 18 -  15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,
Do you see what Paul is asking for? Wisdom and revelation so that they may know Christ better! How many times have you heard that prayed in churches.
Philippians 1: 9 - 11 -  9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.
How about this prayer? That their love may about more and more in knowledge and depth of insight so that they may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless. 

Again, I am not sure I am hearing these kinds of prayers in churches nor am I praying like this. I find myself focused on my small circle of influence focusing mainly on physical needs. I find myself praying for the sick, the unemployed, stressful situations at work and home. Now don't get me wrong, I am not saying we should not pray for these things but I am saying that we may need to take a serious look at our prayers and see if they look more like mine or Paul's. I think that if we, as churches, began praying like Paul prayed we would see more churches like the one in Thesalonica, churches known for their faith and not for their fluff.


  1. Lamar,

    I am reminded of how shallow our prayers actually are and how deep God desires that they be. God wants us sold out and committed, yet we are just as happy to have our measly little requests answered. God reminded me tonight He is actually searching for those who are fully committed and that He can't wait to enable them 2 Chron. 16:9.

  2. wow, effective message!