The nominal church of the west has turned God down so many times that active faith now seems like a myth. Discouragement, pressing in from all sides at once, seems to leave no other option for us than to stop fighting, lay down our weapons and surrender to mediocrity.
Many of us have felt disillusioned with our past, our church, or with God Himself, while the more pertinent truth applies to our spiritual states today. Most American churchgoers have never bothered to ask Christ to make us His own exclusive property. We are either too afraid or too unwilling.
Suppose we admit for a moment that the western, institutional church is an enormous, man-made machine that has jumped way off track and is now lying on its side as an immobile, mangled mountain of nuts and bolts, twisted metal and wire. We might be tempted to stand there by ourselves, looking across the enormous, bulky mess and then back toward our fragile, bare hands and then conclude that it is all too much for us to handle.
Not only is fixing this bulky machine impossible for any mortal, but the lives of a whole lot of religious engineers depend on this machine to stay broken. Those who dedicate their lives to maintaining this machine are accustomed to and even comfortable with their menial chores, all of which amount to grinding away at the heavy, impractical gears that be. The brokenness of this machine and the innumerable specialists whose survival depends on its brokenness all add up to a religious momentum that is unstoppable as far as any mortal is concerned.
In light of these overwhelmingly adverse circumstances and my own weakness to change them, I want to excuse myself from obeying Christ's direct orders. But, if we follow Christ, it is absurd for us to dismiss any call to obedience because of our own shortcomings. Is the church built on the foundation of any man, or is Christ our Foundation? It is Christ's responsibility to uphold His church. This should be our main encouragement if we seek God's kingdom in the United States, or in any other westernized place.
A little while ago I started noticing what seemed like an impossible chasm between church life and "real life." The 1-2-3 steps I was given to "do church" or "become like Christ" were just not working. No matter how excellent the church service, no matter how articulate Christian authors might express their views, I still could not translate my sermon notes or the printed words on a page into Christ-likeness. This was my point of view from the inside looking out.
Later on, from the outside looking in, I continued to perceive only hopeless futility in all the ways of religious Christendom. The wandering masses had long since given up trying to peer in through the church's stained-glass windows. They had better things to do, and I couldn't blame them for thinking this. I debated myself saying, "What business do I have to preach such irrelevance?" I argued back and forth with myself whether I should embrace either excuses or obedience.
But Christ eventually confirmed in me the simple, all-consuming nature of following Him. Anyone who wants to obey Christ need only live, breathe and preach Him all the time, no matter what.
Immediate, risky obedience makes up much of the guts of God's kingdom. Therefore, if any person surrenders to and obeys Christ, then that person is a bona fide work of God, a living portion of His kingdom on earth.
Any further details beyond Christ and Him crucified depend on Christ. This is the most encouraging outlook anyone could ask for. Anyone who believes thus will lead others by their unassuming, Godly surrender.
So what remains for us if we sincerely desire Christ among us? We have no choice but to trust that He is already at work for His glory's sake and that no amount of manly blundering will put a kink in the spiritual momentum of His kingdom.