Go with me here. Imagine if Jesus were a guest speaker in the average church. First, ever the good Samaritan, He may be running slightly late, having stopped to help some unfortunate family stranded by the side of the road.
When He finally arrives, He catches some cold stares from folks lingering in the vestibule. They notice that He isn’t wearing a suit and tie but the work clothes of a carpenter (now stained with dirt, oil and grease from the encounter with the unfortunate family’s broken-down vehicle).
We hurry Jesus to the pastor’s office, where we hand Him our bulletin. With a smile at the corners of His lips, He gives our printed order of worship a passing glance and mumbles, “We’ll see.”
The choir begins the call to worship, and we walk in with Him. Suddenly, several individuals begin to scream and cry out, “Jesus, why have You come to torment us?” They fall at His feet, writhing and crying out. Everyone stares at the scene, trying to guess what Jesus will do. Will He deal with such things in church?
Jesus gazes at the crowd, His eyes sweeping over the audience as if searching out every needy soul. He speaks again the words He once read in the synagogue:
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord" (Luke 4:18-19, NKJV).
Turning to those still writhing at His feet, Jesus casts out the demons simply by saying, “Come out of them.” The delivered people lay quietly in the aisles of the church. Suddenly, others begin to move forward as the sick begin coming toward Him for His touch. He lays hands on them one by one and, regardless of their malady, they are instantly healed. With leaps and shouts of joy, they begin praising God for healing them.
After a few minutes, Jesus quiets the crowd and begins to teach with authority, as sinners begin to weep under the conviction His words bring. Before a formal invitation can even begin, people are flocking to the altar, falling prostrate before Him in glorious salvation.
Word soon spreads to the children’s church that Jesus is in the building, and they leave behind their craft projects and Sunday school papers to find Him. With noisy enthusiasm, the children burst through the sanctuary doors. Embarrassed parents lunge to restrain them as the little ones scramble to where Jesus is standing, clamoring for His touch. Jesus addresses the adults in the room: "Let the little children come unto Me." He then proceeds to touch all of them with a blessing.
Young people gather around Him next, begging to follow Him as disciples. He asks them if they are willing to take up His cross. Will they go anywhere? Are they willing to endure the hardship that being a disciple will inevitably bring?
While all of this transpires, an outside door creaks open as a young man, tattered, filthy and smelling like a pigsty slips in the back—unnoticed—and slowly makes his way across and around the back of the room.
Soon, the aged saints with youth still in their hearts come, asking, “Is it true we will have a body like Yours?” He smiles at them and tells them of the glorious victory they will have over the grave. He blesses them for their faithfulness and charges them to continue their mentoring of the younger saints. They step back from His words with hope restored, feeling a new vigor to go on and serve Him as long as they live.
Then suddenly, a woman with the marks of the world on her countenance begins to weep loudly. Her face is tear-streaked with makeup that could never hide the ravages of her immorality. She falls at His feet, covering them with tears as she receives His pardon.
On the other side of the building, music begins to sound, as there is a commotion in the aisle. We hear a voice cry out, “This my son was dead and is alive again! He was lost but now is found!” Our attention turns to a well-dressed older gentleman dancing with and hugging the tattered young man who had snuck in just moments before.
By this time, the church leaders are gathering in the back of the church, watching. One man says, “I cannot believe that our pastor brought this radical into our church.” Another replies, “We’d better get this back in hand quickly.” Another speaks, “Some of our best people have left upset today.”
So I ask you: Does the real Jesus dare show up in our churches?
Too many churches have learned how to operate without Jesus, much like the end-time church of Laodicea. No doubt, the Lord makes this same lament over our churches today:
“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. ... Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne” (Rev. 3:15-17, 20-21, NIV).
Recently in our own church, we had a mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit at a Wednesday evening service. When it came time for me to preach, there was no reason to. We were in the middle of experiencing the very thing I was going to speak on. It’s fine to talk about the move of God and how He should work in our churches. However, when He shows up, we have to be willing to get out of the way and let Him move.
Jesus’ presence should be evident today in all of our services through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Churches will be different when He shows up in full power! Today the church is a colony of heaven. We are outposts of another kingdom beyond time and space. These outposts should be expressions of Jesus’ presence and power. The power of the world to come must be evident in our churches. The powers of heaven can be ours through the down payment of the Holy Spirit. The supernatural should be the norm in the life of the church.
Note: This article was adapted from the book Awakened by the Spirit by Ron Phillips.
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