The Death Knell of the Church

by Oliver W. Price

Christians are making their own self-interest their primary commitment. This is the death-knell of the church.

Making individualism and personal self-interest our primary commitment denies us the power and reality of our new relationship with Christ. It also makes our churches more at home with our fallen world than with Christ and His kingdom.

The famous French author Alexis de Tocqueville wrote, "Individualism, at first, only saps the virtues of public life; but in the long run, it attacks and destroys all others; and is at length absorbed in downright selfishness."7

Making personal self-interest their primary commitment has produced a multitude of frustrated church members. They are bewildered because they are not experiencing the spiritually abundant life promised in the Gospels and demonstrated in Acts. Even worse, churches lose their heavenly character, direction, and power because many leaders and members believe that the Holy Spirit's power is no longer available today.

The all-powerful Holy Spirit is still here, earnestly desiring to reproduce Christ in individuals, small groups, families, and churches. However, He is hindered. His attempts to rekindle the fire of faith have been doused with the cold water of unbelief. In fact, He even encounters stubborn resistance. People are uncomfortable talking about the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the church falls short of the abundant life. Many Christians go through life stranded in the "no man's land" between the Kingdom of Light and the Kingdom of Darkness, the Kingdom of Life and the Kingdom of Death.

The Starting Point of Change

We must wake up and face the truth! We have forsaken our first love, namely, Christ (Rev. 2:4). We have become halfhearted in our obedience to Him. We are lukewarm. Christ admonishes, "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth" (3:15,16).

We must repent and become passionately zealous to love, honor, and obey the Lord, no matter how great the cost (v. 19). We must become like the church in Acts. When faced with an official demand to stop witnessing in His name, the early believers demonstrated their ardent devotion and obedience to Christ by praying for boldness and power to keep right on witnessing, instead of asking for help to escape persecution (Acts 4:23-29). They wanted to be true to Christ no matter what the cost! When the Apostles-now ablaze with Holy Spirit power-were beaten for their loyalty to Christ, they rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer shame on His behalf (5:41).

Churches must return to Christ. We need a return to the passion and commitment of our "first love." When we do, we will see a mighty, holy cleansing. Many broken lives will be mended overnight. Life-transforming power will be restored. The church will once again speak with convincing moral authority to our pagan society, and multitudes in the watching world will be inexplicably drawn to the Savior.

This article is from The Power of Praying Together; Experiencing Christ Actively In Charge by Oliver W. Price, Kregel Publications, used by permission. Avaiable at Christian bookstores or from the author at www.praywithChrist.org

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