By Mac Bridger
If the message of Jesus is so wonderful, why are we only convincing 10% of our community? In my local area, where there are about 22,000 inhabitants, no more than about 2,000 go to the 14 churches in my town. So I have been going back to the beginning. Going through Mark’s account of Jesus’ life, to see how He started it all. Not just as an academic study, but to learn how I should be doing it today.
This is not another rant at complacent churches. This is a personal journey to understand how I ought to be living in the 21st century in order to get the message of Jesus out there. No secret messages, no new theories. Just going back to basics. After all, I’ve been involved at the cutting edge of churches for 40 years, so I have to have been part of the problem!
For instance, I’ve been wanting to see more “signs and wonders following.” And that’s the point. They follow. Jesus used them to say, in effect, “what I’m saying is right. And I’ll prove it to you by healing this person.” So often in recent years I’ve been longing to see a healing, or a miracle, in order to awaking peoples’ interest in the church. In effect I’ve been saying, “come on God; work a miracle and we’ll see people coming into the Kingdom.” It’s not wrong to want to see God moving in power. Yet Jesus says it’s when we lift Him up that all men will be drawn to Him. I thought I was communicating effectively, I thought I was lifting up the name of Jesus, but if we’re not getting through to the 90%, that cannot be the case.
The message hasn’t changed. The writer to the Hebrews reminds us that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, and for ever.” (Hebrews 13:8) Are we at the point where, yet again, we think we are communicating clearly, but actually the 90% haven’t a clue what we’re talking about? And I am the communicator of the message. Or more exactly, what I am is the message, backed up by what I say. It’s not about religious activity, it’s about how I treat those around me. Jesus castigated the Pharisees that had traveled the 120 or so miles from Jerusalem to Galilee to check out what the “little local problem” was. Quoting the prophet Isaiah He noted, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” Later, when His own disciples asked for clarification, He explained that following God meant changing their mind-set. (Mark 7.21-23).
Jesus’ message differed from the Pharisees’ message. Theirs was about rules and regulations; about doing the right thing at the right time. It was an elitist message that meant that when they had been out and about in the market place, they had to wash their hands to get rid of the “pollution” of being with the masses.
Jesus’ message was about behaving in the right way towards God and those around us. It was about going out to the masses with the good news that God loved them and wanted to know them. It was inclusive, not exclusive. It was a street faith. It was reaching out His hands to the “unclean” and touching their point of need. And that’s where I need to be sharing this incredible message. On the street, with the people that don’t yet know Jesus. Shouting the message by lifestyle, not by argument. Clever people can shoot down my arguments, but nobody can shoot down what I am.
A street faith. One that works in the market place. The literal one, not the symbolic one. That’s the challenge for all ages. Let my life do the talking and be prepared to speak when folks want to know what the secret is. Expecting Father to bring me those God-meetings when I’m out and about, so that I can back up what God is already doing in the lives of people out there. Being involved with what Father is doing.
After the initial times spent in the synagogues, Jesus’ work was in the street church, where the people were. Guess where you and I need to be!
Mac is in what people call the third age of life. He’s planted churches, been an evangelist, been involved in church leadership at different levels for 40 years. He still has a sense of destiny for the next move of God, writes worship songs, preaches and teaches and senses the raising up of the end time army. Above all he is an encourager. For information, check out his website.