I wonder what the first two things were that popped into your head. Was it the lack of young people and lively music? Was it the lack of money and structure? Was it the lack of the right Bible translation and doctrine classes?
Spoiler alert… I don’t think that it’s any of those things!
As I meet and speak to Christians from all walks of life, from different denominational traditions, from different theological schools of thought and different countries, I see 2 things that are missing: A robust doctrine of the Church and of the Holy Spirit.
Do both of these doctrines really matter? Yes! Can both of these doctrines be misused? Yes! Does that mean that we can neglect them? No!
Have you ever woken up and thought ‘I really can’t be bothered going to church this morning’? Join the club! The majority of us have had that feeling at one point or another. As society begins to revolve more and more around the individual, that mentality also seems to be infiltrating the Church.
The world tells you to look out for yourself, to do what you want and when you want to, to live the best life you can and to be ‘free’. This leads to a consumerist mentality, always looking what to get rather than what to give. Do I over step by saying that this mentality is dangerous for the Christians? I don’t think so!
There have been times when I haven’t wanted to go to church or to a church meeting. But the thing that has got me out of bed is the knowledge that I have the privilege of going and gathering with God’s people and praising Him as one body. If we approach church with the question ‘what can I get out of this?’ then we need to question if our hearts are in the right place.
Church is not about us, Church is not there for the benefit of the individual, it is not there to be a pep talk that gives you a boost from Sunday to Sunday. The Church is the body of Christ that He willing died for, that He redeemed and rescued. The Church is God’s representative on Earth and it is the community of His sheep. We gather to listen to God’s Word, to praise Him, to encourage each other as we travel through this world and to declare the good news to the World.
If we don’t have a robust understanding of what the Church is then we are missing out! Read the Bible and be captivated by the price that Jesus paid so that the Church could be birthed, be drawn in to the praise language, the body language, the family language and the bride language. If we even begin to grasp this then we will want to spend time in, serve, encourage and contribute to our churches.
Our love for Jesus is shown in our love for the local church.
2. Holy Spirit
The second doctrine that I think is missing from the church is a robust doctrine of the Holy Spirit. So many times people speak about the Holy Spirit as an ‘it’ or they speak about the Holy Spirit as a mystical force.
I believe that this lack of understanding can be seen in both conservative and charismatic denominations and movements. The Holy Spirit is a person not a force or influence and the Holy Spirit is one person of the Trinity.
Many Christians invest time in ‘understanding’ God, Jesus and the Bible but fewer invest time in studying and ‘understanding’ the Holy Spirit. If we do not have a robust understanding of the Holy Spirit then we are in danger of reducing His work or miss-understanding His work.
Failing to wrestle with the person and work of the Holy Spirit means that we will not be enjoying the fullness of our Triune God and it means that we settle with a limited view of the Spirit’s work in our lives.
Read Genesis 1, John 14-17, Acts 1, 1 Corinthians 12-14 and marvel at the work of the Holy Spirit.
If Christians wrestled more with these two doctrines, the church would be a better place. We should not settle to let the world influence the way we view the Church and we should not let bad experiences or a lack of understanding change our approach to the Holy Spirit.
Does this mean that we will fully understand both of these fundamental doctrines? No! If you ever think that you have exhausted the Bible’s teaching on them, or you think that you cannot learn anymore, then I’m sorry but your wrong. Keep striving, keep reading, keep asking questions and keep seeking to know the God that we serve more and more. In doing so we will honour God, become better worshippers and more obedient children to our Great Heavenly Father.