Let God arise, Let his enemies be scattered; Let those also who hate him flee before him. Psalm 68:1
With these words the Psalm writer declares the triumphant victory of God over his enemies. He is the supreme ruler over all things and his victory over all who oppose him is a great fact of biblical revelation. This is part of the divine being and nature of God himself. He cannot fail and he cannot be defeated.
These are the facts but how do we see these facts translated into acts?
In today’s church we delight in singing about the great victory of our God who is over all and above all. We rejoice that “we are more than conquerors through him who loved us”. We revel in the fact that “he always causes us to triumph” in his name.
However our praise vocabulary must become our lifestyle. God will get glory to his name in this age and in the age to come only when we rise up and become his instrument for transformation in our homes, our places of work and in our community at large.
The cell vision is all about equipping you to be good news where you are, and learning to become God’s agent for change in the world. As disciples of Christ we have the responsibility to reform our society. We have the duty to help bring a taste of heaven on the earth. This is not just by our church programmes, but by truly representing Christ as his ambassadors in the world. As representatives of Jesus, we are the only gospel or epistle many will ever read or hear.
You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart. 2 Corinthians 3:2-3
Christian responsibility An example of accepting our responsibility to engage with our world is the national referendum on our voting system. It is surely in the interests of our earthly citizenship to make sure that we have the best system of electing our political representatives. It is also a vital expression of our heavenly citizenship to engage with this political process. This is one way of taking seriously Jesus’ call upon our lives to be salt and light in the world (Matthew 5:13). Christians are perceived to be a minority in Britain – less than 10% of the population. But we can be a significant minority. Influence is not always related to numbers. It has to do with how active we are. 10% of a population can influence a whole nation. Other minority groups are doing it. Militant gays, extreme feminists and radical Muslims have all succeeded in recent years in transforming our society beyond recognition. All too often Christians have allowed themselves to be marginalised through ignorance or apathy, leaving the field open to those with an ungodly and antichristian agenda.
It is no good complaining now that others have taken the initiative and gained the upper hand. We need to renew our commitment and work strategically. It is better to have a few radical, dedicated and faithful activists than being part of a majority who do nothing. A few committed and united Christians being effective where it really matters – outside the church buildings – can make a difference. That is how God always works. Remember Gideon’s Army!
What does it mean for God to arise? How can we work with him to fulfil our commission? Here are 7 ways in which this can happen in today’s society.
It begins when Christians work and act together – united we stand, divided we fall. The enemy has managed to divide and conquer Christians. United Christian co-operation is of the utmost priority. How can believers make a credible stand being in such disunity? Competition must be replaced by co-operation, criticism by affirmation and independence by partnership. This means denominations, churches and Christian agencies working together – and it begins with the Christians in the local churches uniting behind the vision and the ministry of their church. Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel Philippians 1:27
In order to reach others and influence them for Christ, there must be a connection. We have to be relevant. So many Christians are out of touch. We flourish behind the high walls of church commitment and lose all contact with those who are outside. We even manage to live and work among unbelievers without ever truly connecting with them. That is worldliness. Jesus said that we to be in the world, but not of the world. This means connecting with those who are not yet walking with Christ.
We need to show them that God is part of daily life. After all, nothing is really secular except sin. The Bible is God’s practical manual for life and living and it speaks about how to enter into a life-giving relationship with God through Christ. But it also addresses how to live saved and how to be successful in every area of life. The Bible shows you how to live as husbands, fathers, mothers and employees, how to handle your emotions and how to deal with your enemies and friends.
One of the greatest ways we undermine the cause of Christ in the world is “talking the talk” without “walking the walk”. This passage (quoted below) from Paul’s letter to the Romans pointing out the effect of Jewish hypocrisy on the gentile world of the first century is just as relevant today. Christian hypocrisy in which we fail to practice what we profess, results in turning our society away from Christ.
You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? You who say, “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law? For “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,” as it is written. Romans 2:21-24
James emphasised in similar terms the need to be doers of the Word of God and not hearers only (James 1:22). Frankly, often it’s the preachers who do the most damage! We tell people what they want to hear – not what they need to hear. All too often we bend with the tide of popular opinion and go soft on such things as adultery, divorce, sex before marriage and issues of social conscience. We focus on the popular topics such as prosperity, blessing, power and anointing.
A long time ago, we in KT purposed to become the most effective disciplemaking centre in London. The cell vision has given us the tool to offer to everyone who comes under our ministry the opportunity both be properly discipled and to be trained in the art of disciple making, so that we can truly fulfil our commission to make, mature and to mobilise disciples of Christ (Matthew 28:18-20).
Instead of breeding congregations who merely listen but do not do, I think that every sermon preached should come with a warning from H.M.G. (his majesty’s government):
WARNING: LISTENING TO THIS SERMON WITHOUT PUTTING IT INTO PRACTICE COULD SERIOUSLY DAMAGE YOUR CREDIBILITY.
Every time you hear the Word of God preached, ask yourself, ‘how does God want me to change and how can I go about it?’ Remember, you don’t have to go it alone. The cell groups are about people meeting together to see how they can put the Word of God into practice in their own lives.
One of the greatest means of influence God has given us is the proclamation of his Word. The gospel is power of God for salvation and the transformation of a life and also a society.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” Romans 1:16-17
Paul writes this to the believers in Rome who were living in a corrupt society. It was his motivation for preaching the gospel. It brings life, hope and salvation. It also brings transformation as we go out into the world shining the light of Christ.
As citizens and members of a democratic society it is our responsibility to speak out – not just to preach but also to raise our voice in protest in order to bring Godhonouring changes. There are many issues to confront: social, moral and political. From abortion to housing, health care to unemployment. Somebody once said that, ‘evil triumphs when good people do nothing.’
Our confrontation must be positive and not negative; it must be creative and loving; our criticism must be constructive. We must become known for having a positive alternative, a counter culture – society influenced by the values of the kingdom of God. Christianity is life-affirming because is confronts sin which is destructive.
The real way we influence is not by our words – but actions. GB Shaw wrote in his play, Pygmalion: “Don’t tell me show me.” People are through with words. They want to see your actions back up your words. Show them a better way. We must show our world that God’s way works – it’s the best way! Show them what community is all about. Show them what families are all about. Show them that God’s ways in business bring prosperity. Show them that Christian education works better than any other system. As the saying goes, “the proof of the pudding is in the eating!”
This is the greatest influence of all. We have yet to discover the full power of prayer! If you want God to step in – pray! Spurgeon, the “prince of preachers” who ministered in London in the 19th Century said, “Prayer is the slender nerve that moves the muscles of omnipotence.”
James put it this way:
The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
This means that prayer that is fervent and righteous is effective in releasing the operational power of God and it cannot fail but produce outstanding results. The anonymous author of The Kneeling Christian wrote:
“Prayer has divided seas, rolled up flowing rivers, made flinty rocks gush into fountains, quenched flames of fire, muzzled lions, disarmed vipers and poisons, marshalled the stars against the wicked, stopped the course of the moon, arrested the sun in its rapid race, burst open the iron gates, released souls from eternity, conquered the strongest devils, commanded legions of angels down from heaven. Prayer has brought one man from the bottom of the sea and carried another in a chariot of fire to heaven. What has prayer not done?”
God works through prayer. We can affect the spiritual destiny of our city and our nation by prayer, fasting and Biblical repentance. Prayer opens the way for God to step in.
…if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
2 Chronicles 7:14
Determine today to be God’s agent for change. Make room for him to step in and show the world that he alone is God.