“Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb sing. For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert. The parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water; in the habitation of jackals, where each lay, there shall be grass with reeds and rushes.” (Isaiah 35:5-7)
Most Christians act like thermometers, reflecting the ambient spiritual temperature. If it is cold, they are cold. If the spiritual atmosphere is open, they are open. If the prevailing spiritual climate is conducive to growth, they grow. But God has not called us to be thermometers, taking the spiritual temperature. Rather, he wants us to act like thermostats and set the temperature both in the church and in society. We should be determining the spiritual environment, not succumbing to it. By prayer, fasting, and spiritual warfare, we can change the spiritual climate in our church, our city and even our nation. Zealous Christianity, confidence in the gospel, enthusiastic evangelism and effective witness may be waning in some churches across Western nations, but we, along with many others, determined a long time ago that we would break the mould and buck the trend.
Overcoming your spiritual environment
We may be living in a ‘national Nazareth’ of unbelief, but we guard our hearts and carry the anointing for the ministry God has given us. Like a greenhouse in the arctic, we maintain an atmosphere conducive for growth and preserve our ‘on-fire’ spirituality. People come into our environment and grow rapidly, learning how to maintain high levels of spiritual passion, despite the external prevailing culture. Likewise, all those who pursue the cell vision must work on changing their own spiritual environment into one conducive for discipleship and growth through cells.
We must draw the line in the sand and refuse to allow the spiritual atmosphere to affect us. We must also tear down the strongholds of the mind.
“I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish” (Galatians 5:16-17).
Passion brings transformation
We begin by refusing to allow our spiritual environment to dictate the level of our spirituality. Isaac sowed in a time of famine and reaped a hundredfold in the same year (Genesis 26:12). He refused to accept that his environment had more influence over his fruitfulness than the promise of God for his life. He sowed expecting a harvest, not paying attention to the negative surrounding conditions. God rewarded his faith. In Isaiah chapter 35, we read of the miracle of a transformed environment. The desert blossoms as a rose and the place of barrenness becomes a place of fruitfulness, watered by streams and bubbling springs. No matter how apparently hostile and unfriendly our environment, our true source is the promise of God and the provision of all that we need in him.
The Bible is full of examples of people who refused to bow to the trends of their day and fought against the constraints others placed on them. They stood for God and found they could break the barriers to fruitful growth forced upon them by negative circumstances and wicked people. Prayer and intercession, the crucible of spiritual passion permeates the community of believers who throw themselves upon God’s mercy and grace. Spirit-empowered living reaches the lost, the lonely, the broken-hearted and the hurting. First individuals and then whole communities are transformed. Intentional discipleship mobilises the whole body of Christ to rise up and be counted. That is how we can transform our spiritual environment.