Posted on 2/19/2012 by Charles
Chan starts this chapter by examining healthy evidences of a growing church. I've always felt that growth isn't in numbers necessarily, but in the impact of that group of people to those around them. He gives the example of Elijah calling down fire (1 Kings 18:39) and the peoples' response. It is true that the people had a positive response to Elijah by praising God (good fruit), but Paul had people respond by praising him (Acts 14:11) and not God once, so his example in Elijah's story as measuring good fruit of a church is a dangerous one. The point is that a healthy response is to worship God and not man and I agree with that, but when people incorrectly respond by worshiping you for following God, that doesn't mean that you're not following God. Just lovingly correct them like Paul does and move on.
Keying off of Chan's earlier example of Elijah he talks about this amazing reference in James, "Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently." - James 5:17
We need to pray. Pray every day. Pray in the morning. Pray in the evening. Pray while driving. Pray while talking to your peers. Pray in your hearts throughout the day to constantly interject your dependence on God. Get away to pray. Stay with others and pray. Pray to God in your heart alone. Pray with others openly to God. But what if we forget to pray? When you remember....pray. Don't live a life of fear, but freedom in Christ. Not a freedom that you exercise hurting others, but loving them while displaying the reason you live...Jesus' grace is sufficient.
I think Chan's key thought in this chapter, and possibly the book, is this, "God delights in showing up when His people are in desperate need of Him, because that means no one else can steal His glory."
I fully agree.
It was great reading through the section where Chan and his church began to try to live as a community with one another. He provides the specifics in the book, but I absolutely loved his statement, "from there, we began going to some of our friends in the congregation and expressing our commitment to them."
That deeply resonates with me. I need to tell my brothers that I am committed to them. I am here to fight for them (and with them when necessary) and they can lean on me for anything. Strange that this just isn't something we (I) say to those we love and walk daily with.
Chan ends with a thought that has echoed through my mind ever since I heard Ravi Zacharias talk about it in many of his sermons. Chan says, "greater knowledge does not necessarily equal greater spirituality." G.K. Chesterton also stated, “We are educating ourselves into imbecility." This truth finds its way into the church as well as in the sphere of academia. And Malcom Muggeridge also echos this thought in this amazing excerpt:
Having wearied of the struggle to be himself, he has created his own boredom out of his own affluence, his own impotence out of his own erotomania, his own vulnerability out of his own strength; himself blowing the trumpet that brings the walls of his own city tumbling down, and, in a process of auto-genocide, convincing himself that he is too numerous, and labouring accordingly with pill and scalpel and syringe to make himself fewer in order to be an easier prey for his enemies; until at last, having educated himself into imbecility, and polluted and drugged himself into stupefaction, he keels over a weary, battered old brontosaurus and becomes extinct."
Back to Chan...he then extracts from James 4:17 that, "...when we stock up on knowledge without applying it to our lives we are actually sinning." I agree. How about pausing for a second to contrast the scary revealing in Romans 1:21-22, "For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools."
They knew God!!! How crazy is this?!! You can know your wife and not love her. You can know God and not love him. Anyone see what is going on here? Knowledge junkies like myself fear the lack of application of knowledge (wisdom) as we try to absorb as much as we can waiting to apply it ourselves. There are healthy applications of this, but there are also unhealthy applications that we choose to ignore. "I'll get to it soon, " or, "I'll think about that later," when we learn a new truth God has taught us is easy to push aside as we continue to collect information.
I'll close the review of Chan's book with the amazing verse he quotes at the end of his book:
"For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." - Romans 14:17
P.S. Anytime I disagree with Chan please do not feel any less of him. I look up to Chan greatly. I would venture to say that there is not one single person in this world that I agree with 100% of the time. Chan is being used for God in powerful ways and when he provides opportunity for dialogue, it is just another one of those opportunities.