What do you believe is really happening at church?
What do you think is really happening at church? What do you believe goes on, not just visibly, but invisibly because of God’s Almighty power and work? What would it look like to raise our gaze to look for God to work? Even at church? Trusting Jesus for His work of redemption in my own heart and in the hearts of others.
Not surprisingly, a long time ago, Tim Keller helped me to consider just one dimension of how God works. Through preaching.
In ancient times, one of the most effective forms of defense was a city wall. This was the basis for any fortress or castle. A threatening horde may come your way, but you could retreat into the city behind those walls, and the trend was that you would outlast their attack. City fortresses were hard to capture. Until artillery …
The invention of the cannon changed everything. Now an attacking army could blow away fortress gates, walls, defenses, or whatever stood in their way. Significantly, artillery could not capture a city! Ground troops were necessary for that. But artillery could blow holes in defensive walls to make it possible for troops to storm their way inside for the conquest.
What does that have to do with church?? Preaching is like spiritual artillery. Of course, part of preaching and teaching is to build up God’s people who trust Him. But part of our work is to blow holes in the unbelief of those in our hearing — both believing and as-of-yet unbelieving.
I believe part of my God-given responsibility is to work in such a way that God’s Word is applied to everyone. I believe I am charged by Almighty God to encourage faith and to blow holes in any aspect of unbelief, even if doubt, pride, or fear are lurking in the hearts of believers.
So Keller concluded with this insight, “One of the most significant events in a believer’s life is when they become convinced that they could bring their unbelieving friends, coworkers or family members to church because they’re convinced that God will work and they will be treated well.”
We believe God is working in unimaginably good ways in all things (see Romans 8:28). And in corporate worship, we really trust that HE is at work in prayers, in interactions with other believers, in songs, offerings, even in sermons, and especially in His blessing.
We resolutely want to do whatever we do in a way that God would be honored and they would be blessed. I am on the artillery. But you’re the infantry, on the ground and in relationship with people whose questions you may not even feel able to answer. Trust me to do my job. You do your job. And together, we will trust God to do what only He can do.
Do you believe that about God’s work and our church? If you wanted that work of God, not only in your own life but in the lives of those around you who do not yet believe, could you invite them to join you? We have now grown to the place where we need two services, and clearly, now, there are a lot more empty seats. Have you invited anyone — especially someone who does not yet believe — to join you?
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