[by Keith Hazell] “Don’t go too far dear.” These were frequent words that I heard from Mother when I was growing up. Usually, it was a warning that there was an unmarked perimeter that I should not pass.
However, once on a beach in the UK during the Second World War, the warning was to remind me not to go under the barbed wire onto the sand where land-mines were buried.
Thus to hear such a warning, is to realize that going beyond certain limits where things appear ok, can actually put us in mortal danger.
One of the currents going through the church to-day questions the value and purpose of church as we have known it in the past. It is said that the church has no relevance and its meetings are no longer a place where believers can actively and meaningfully interact and express the life of Christ.
There is a legitimate need to get back to a simpler form of Christian Life and to re-discover the lifestyle and benefits of a closer and more intimate community. Not only because of the fact that we live in a disconnected society, but also because the Church has been moving away from the clear principles of Christian Community, and its prime call to evangelism.
We have in fact, been promoting a brand of Christianity that does not carry the authenticity of the Church that is described in the book of Acts.
The antidote we are being told is a total revolution and forsaking of any form of what passes now for church life, and public worship, these being regarded as merely a form which has totally lost its reality and impact.
In the reading of many books and listening to various of those who have made their choice of what some call “Plain Church” or “Organic Church” or “Simple Church”. (These are but three of a multitude of names by which these new expressions of Christian Worship and Community are known.)
I have seen a danger that somehow we may pass certain points without realizing the peril that goes with them.
In the eyes of some, meeting in Starbucks with another individual and talking briefly about a scripture, constitutes “having church” Yet others are equally sure that stopping and leaving your automobile for a few minutes and speaking with a Christian friend also constitutes the expected experience of fellowship.
Both of these are virtuous and good things for Christians to do but surely do not constitute and example true New Testament Church Life.
How far must we go in our search for authenticity in the Christian Life? Is it possible our journey will take us under the wire and into a minefield?
A few years back, when facing the controversy concerning the Florida Outpouring there was a nagging feeling in my own spirit, that in seeking a manifestation of the supernatural many were totally ignoring or not even looking for Scriptural signposts to give them guidance.
As a result millions landed up in a quagmire of disillusionment and despair. Sad to say many young and devout believers saw this as a personal let down and forsook any “usual manifestation of church life”
The outcome of this and other painful events occurring in the lives of leaders of mega Charismatic churches, with terminated marriages and immoral conduct, financial impropriety, and exploitation of members, is that there is an exodus going on from church on Sunday morning in an unprecedented way.
A Second World War movie “A Bridge too far” demonstrates what happens when an armed force goes outside or beyond there intended destination. The result of this incursion was death and destruction on an unprecedented style at the time
In the present atmosphere in the Church in general do we have to be a little more careful in our search for authenticity and relevance so that we don’t find ourselves “beyond the wire” “in a minefield” “without any biblical signposts”?
There was an incidence in Paul’s life when he encountered a major storm on board a ship that looked doomed to sink in the savage winds and waves.
In such circumstances one of the things that they began to do was to unload the vessel of some of its more expensive but less needful cargo. In the midst of this Paul was able to stand up and offer some stability at a time when “valuable things” were being thrown overboard to attempt to save the ship.
We are in a season of savage storm (Paul had pre-knowledge of the storm, as many of us also have known) the concern of the sailors and the captain was the saving of the ship!
Some would have been quite happy to kill the human cargo if it guaranteed the saving of the ship. As in the days of Jonah, when they ship was more important.
Gods cry through Paul was this “You cannot save the ship, but not a soul will be lost”
The prime concern of our day should not be preserving “The ship” being in this context, the church as we have always known it. Our prime concern should be that not a single soul is lost in the process of dealing with change and renewal in our churches.
After Paul’s crew made it ashore, they saw considerable signs and wonders since they were now in a whole different mode than on the ship during the storm.
What a joy for sailors and prisoners alike to discover they still had a purposeful future! Maybe some of us today can rejoice that we are no longer “human cargo” or simply “sailors on the ship” but have a place in God’s Kingdom and destiny still to pursue.
Copyright Keith Hazell Used by permission
Keith Hazell, now deceased, travelled internationally as a prophet and teaching ministry. For more than 35 years he travelled amongst the nations demonstrating the Prophetic and teaching and raising up new generation prophets.