Both the testimony of experience and the testimony of Scripture teach us that Kingdom Dwellers will need to endure short seasons of loneliness. It is far better for you to experience that loneliness on the leading edge of what God is doing next than to experience that loneliness on the back edge of what God used to do. The recorded history of the Church of Jesus Christ is no more than the account of what God was once doing in the present moment. Jesus Christ declared in Revelation 21:5, “Behold, I am making all things new!” God the Father said in Isaiah 43:19, “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” In both these instances we find Father and Son declaring that a new thing was being done by Him. The only command given to His people in these two passages is “Behold it. See it. Recognize it.” For any who disbelieve that God is doing a new work in each generation, it is only due to a failure to behold it. If we are looking for Him, we will not miss His movement when it comes.
Contrary to what some may presume, the aim of God is not to preserve a generational, cultural approach to Christian work and ministry. The Church today looks nothing like it did one hundred years ago - it should not. Some of those changes are, indeed, detriments, some are blessings - these are all generational changes. Let us recognize that the Church in America today appears differently in many regards to the Church in China or Africa or South America today - these are cultural differences. God declares in Scripture too many times to number that He is not concerned as much with “the outward” as He is with “the inward”. It is we humans who are obsessed with the appearance of the outward, not God. That is why much of the human emphasis about ministry, worship, relationships and mission has often been subjected to non-biblical scrutinization. We typically assume that what God blessed in one generation will be blessable in the next. We are therefore loathe to embrace change – even change that God Himself might initiate. Every generation also has to face the reality of passing the baton to the next generation. The generation coming behind me will lead very differently in the Kingdom than I do. If I lead correctly now, they will be given the opportunity to know what must remain the same in their generation and what is permitted to be changed or even eliminated altogether. When generational or cultural policy supersedes Gospel purpose, the Church and the culture suffers. God will work something new in each generation of His children, through each generation of His children and for each generation of His children.
Confession time: when I am finishing my race, I don’t desire to be left behind, protecting or preserving the memory and presumed continuance of what God did in my generation. I am a temporary steward of the Gospel. I will give an account for what I did with the message and mission of Jesus Christ. I will also give an account for how I empowered the next generation to carry the torch.
So, my fellow Kingdom Dweller, we need to be very wise. We are called to behold the new work that God determines in and through our lives. We are called to be as the Sons of Issachar in 1 Chronicles 12:32 who discerned the times and knew what their generation needed to do. The next ten to twenty years in the American Church will reveal a radically distinct set of opportunities, challenges, dangers and outpourings. We are not heading toward mild times. “Behold, a shaking…” wrote the ancient prophet, Ezekiel. We will say the same thing in our generation. There is a coming convergence of human events, spiritual forces and resulting circumstances that is going to define our generation. Are you, as a Kingdom Dweller, preparing the people who look to you for direction? Are you hearing King Jesus as He promised that all His sheep would hear Him? Most weeks, I will experience a few hours wherein the overwhelming reality of my giving an account to the Son of God brings me (literally) to my knees. He is not playing around. This is all about His name, His Kingdom, His glory and His mission. The fact that He called us into this place of influence and instruction as Kingdom Dwellers is incredibly sobering. If we will give a proper accounting we will need to refuse to buckle to our cultural influences, the demands of those who follow us or the intense pressures that come against us. Now is not the time for hedging, shuffling or shrugging. These are days when we all must step forward, step up and then step out.
After all, we are also being led. Our Captain in battle is going somewhere. Somewhere new. I have committed to follow Him and He has strengthened my resolve to press on. I would like to do so alongside of you.