I enjoy improvement and efficiency. After teaching/coaching for a few years I've found that something I love to do is take a child who is having a hard time getting their serve over the net and walk them step by step until they become successful. I love to take an entire team and adjust, correct, explain, and demonstrate until they are successful. I love to take an entire program whether it be an athletic program, a youth group, a business, you name it and let me trouble shoot, find problems, and begin to find ways to move towards success, improvement, and efficiency.
With this type of hobby there is potential of some major flaws. Pride and criticism.
I found that over the years I began to battle this more than I realized and in one main particular area: The American Church.
After returning home in 2010 from my second trip to Africa, I was preparing for the next journey in just three weeks. A friend and I were about to go hold meetings in Rwanda and knew we'd see God save, heal, deliver. This is when people started asking the questions.
"Why do you think God does miracles like that in Africa and not so much here?"
"Why do you love it over there so much?"
"Why do the Africans seem so happy?"
I began to seek this out for myself and as I did, I began to see problem after problem after problem with the American church. Answers began to come easily to the questions. "Americans are faithless". "Americans have no joy". "Americans are spoiled". "Americans don't know what it means to rely on God". "The American church is so seeker sensitive". "The American church doesn't understand sacrifice". "The American church doesn't know how to worship freely". "Africans really want God". "The American church puts God on a clock". "The American Church doesn't give the Holy Spirit freedom to do what He wants".
Oh the explanations could go on and on and on. I began to crave to be back in Africa where I saw God moving in ways I didn't here. I really couldn't explain the growing hostility I felt inwardly towards the Western church as a whole. Oh, I loved MY church. I loved MY youth. But overall I felt the American Bride was lacking and I felt I knew what was wrong with Her.
This past trip to Mozambique the Lord spoke to me about this issue. I asked God, how come when I come to Africa and I speak in a meeting many people get free? They are healed? They are delivered? They get saved? and then I come back to the western bride and we see very occasional miracles, healings, etc? The Lord responded sternly.
"Because you love the African church, you don't love the American church"
For years I have blamed the bride of Christ for her many faults, without ever looking inwardly at my own. Criticism and pride.
I am not here to say that the Bride is faultless, my goodness we all know the church has its issues, but she is His and He loves her (aka US). We are the bride of Christ and He loves us. If we want to begin fault finding inside the body, perhaps we (me) should start with ourselves. If I LOVE the church the way that Christ loves His church I would find many things good about her, many things beautiful, just as a husband looks at his wife. He doesn't immediately see her flaws, he sees her beauty, her successes, her BEST FEATURES.
Love is what activates the power of God. It activates the power of God for salvation, for healing, for redemption, love is what motivated the very act of Jesus laying His life down. As we love the church as a whole and the individuals within the church, the power of God (the Holy Spirit) can work and move through us. He works through love.
This morning a thought crossed my mind about a recent "religious" leader and his beliefs that are contradictory to the Word of God. His beliefs are wrong and immediately my mind went back to old habits. "This is what's wrong with the AMERICAN church"... The Holy Spirit spoke three words, "Love my Bride".
God does not condone the sin of the church. He doesn't condone many of the unbiblical views held by clergy, ministers, or leaders. He doesn't want us to sacrifice truth in order to give grace (He was fully grace and fully truth) but as I stand on the conviction and truth of the Word, I still must do so in love.