Sunday, 6 April 2014

A message for the church

Dearly beloved

I write this letter to you in a time when the church face enormous challenges. We experience a period of dramatic change in our country and around the world. This is a time in which all those who's hearts are concerned about the decline and falling away should come together and ask: what must we do? With the psalmist we can ask: When the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do? It is in a time like this that the call goes out: Where are those among them, who should make up the hedge, who shall stand in the gap before the Lord for the land, that it would not fall into total destruction!

The answer came to me during an early morning of prayer with some dear brethren. Sometimes we are confused. Sometimes we do not see things clearly. Sometimes we are unsure about what we should do. That is the time when we should inquire about the foundations. What are the foundation stones without which no building can do? What are the basic principles of the church? We should go back to these. We should clearly discern what are the fundamental truths of the gospel.

I believe that God made it very simple. Given in a nutshell: there are only two basic principles. The one regulates our relation with Him and the other our relation with all people. These are 1. Obey God  2. Forgive each other. Can it be so simple. Yes, it is. In our day and age the principles of obedience and forgiveness have fallen out of favor. Why? Because these are not typical democratic values. Obedience is not the language of democracy. Forgiveness is not the language of the market. But the kingdom of God is not a democracy! The Lord Jesus is our King. We belong to God's kingdom. And these are the principles of His kingdom. 

We should remind ourselves what a kingdom is like. The kingdom in old Israel was based on a tribal/clan system. The king was a father; he was a father for all those who had no father, approachable by all his subjects. He was also a leader who commanded them against their enemies. As Christians we belong to God's kingdom - which, I repeat, is a kingdom, not a democracy! And the essence of God's kingdom is obedience. Obedience flows from the deep trust that we have in God, our father. God is our spiritual father who loves us, who gave His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to die for us. But as king we also hold Him in awe. Love, trust and awe - that's why we obey Him. We need to rediscover the principle of obeying God. Absolute obedience.

With democracy came the greed of an absolute free market. Here the principle is: To get somewhere you must use people. You must use them to reach your goals. And this leaves many people with grudges. But in the kingdom of God the exact opposite is true: We must forgive because God forgave us. We should reconcile with those who have grudges against us. And this is an absolute rule: Forgive and live as far as possible in such a manner that others do not have to forgive us. We experience the full joy of freedom if we forgive and are forgiven by others. To be free of anger, distrust, hate, grudges - there is only one answer: forgive each other in the same manner in which God forgave you. That is: absolute forgiveness.

When we carefully consider these principles, then we ask: Can we really live that in the full sense? Is it really possible in practice? A better question is: How can this be done? There is only one answer: This is only possible if we are crucified with Christ. In fact, we are already crucified with Christ! But it is not enough to say that Jesus has done that for us on the cross. It is not enough to recognize that we should live crucified lives and try our very best to do so. Rather, we must participate in that salvation. We must in faith accept and experience that salvation. We must be able to say with the apostle Paul: I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me! Only then can we experience the fullness of our inheritance in Christ as members of God's kingdom who are able to live according to the principles of that kingdom. 

Christians who are living uncrucified lives have a quarrel with the principles of obedience and forgiveness. But nothing will change this basic rule of the kingdom of God: the key that unlocks the power of God's Spirit working through us is crucifixion. When we in faith reckon ourselves to be crucified with Christ as the same apostle Paul says in his letter to the church in Rome, yes, and die by God's grace to our selfish desires, to our own interests, then we can be fully committed to God and have a disposition to obey Him. When we bend our knees before God and humbly pray: I am willing to let go of my pride, my selfishness, my laziness, even my right to myself, only then will we experience the full power of Christ's resurrection. Then will we be able to say: Lord, I am fully thine, do with my life as you please. It is only when we experience such a crucified life, such a life of full surrender to God, that we would be able to obey God and forgive each other in a really profound and even radical way.

Some of you will say: But what about love! Is not love the central message for and of the church. Should we not love one another. This is indeed the basic commandment of Jesus. This love, however, will only be realized in and through our lives when we are fully committed to God. Only when we are crucified with Christ and live such a life in faith will we experience that the reservoir of God's love in us is unlocked. Then will we be able to obey and forgive, and experience the love of God in action. Then will the dynamic pentecostal power of God's Spirit flow through our lives like a river of living waters. The love for God, each other and all people, is not from ourselves - it is God's love that flows though us. God loves though us. Love will characterize our lives and that of the church.

I therefore repeat, beloved, that we should obey God and forgive each other. How deep is our obedience? How deep is our forgiveness. How deep are we committed to God. To what extent do we live according to the basic principles of the kingdom of God. We should not let the spirit of this world govern our lives. We should not allow the norms of the time to dictate to us how we should live. Those who try to form our opinions according to this world hate these principles. They attack it. But we belong to another kingdom. And if we want to see the power of God in action, if we want to see God's kingdom come in power, we should implement the basic principles of that kingdom in our lives. So, we have to ask ourselves: Do I really live according to those principles?

I want to encourage you all. The end is drawing closer. Times will become more difficult. But Jesus, our leader, will lead us to victory. Let's obey Him and forgive each other. Let's consecrate our lives to Him anew. Let's take hands and become one in our love for Him and each other. Let's ask ourselves: Is this how I lead my life? We should make time to go on our knees and consider these things in the presence of God. When we allow God to realize these things in our lives we will experience the presence of God in our lives and the church. Yes, even the awful presence of God in revival.

May God be with you all.

Your brother in Christ

Willie Mc Loud (Ref. wmcloud@yahoo.com)
Strand, South Africa

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