Every time I am in Togo, West Africa, I notice something in every village we enter in to.
They all look different. Some look like a blob of cement or clay and others are a little bit more detailed. No matter what, every village has one.
These idols represent a deity that the people in that area sacrifice to. It's like when you enter your neighborhood and there is a sign with the name of your neighborhood on it. This sign represents where you live.
The difference is, you probably don't give up the only meat that you and your family will eat that week, to this stone image.
You don't look at that sign for protection or peace.
You probably aren't concerned with your sign not being pleased with you and as a result becoming cursed.
This is a daily worry and responsibility that these people deal with.
It is so easy to see how the enemy works in this area of the world. I mean we all know the ten commandments, right?
"Thou shalt worship a stone image"?
Kids are born every single day in Togo and grow up thinking that they have to please this stone and the deity that it represents to have a prosperous life. They will worry about not having the proper amount of food to sacrifice to this idol and go without food themselves.
It is so easy to sit back and think, "wow! How could they live that way?". "How don't they see how foolish this is?"
I grew up as a pastors kid and am so thankful and blessed to have been brought up in Gospel centered family that shared the love and hope of Jesus. One day I made my own decision to follow Him and was forever changed.
The reality is, these people have not. They have grown up in a family that clung to the hope of an idol. They don't know about the One True God who created them. They don't know about His only Son who sacrificed Himself for them so that they will never have to sacrifice anything to find favor. They don't know that they can have hope, peace and freedom in Christ.
Romans 10:14-15 says,
"How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
Can you imagine living a life trying to please someone and never being able to live up to the demands? Can you imagine living in fear and desperation, just looking for some hope? Can you imagine being so lost that you just didn't know what to do any more?
The answer to all of those should be, YES!
Because before you knew Jesus, that was you.
Maybe you were lucky enough to not grow up in the eleventh poorest country in the world. What a blessing!
Yeah, your life before Christ may have looked a little different than someone who has grown up in a voodoo culture.
But the result is still the same. You. Were. Lost...
Now, you're not! Now you have a hope! You have Good News to share with those who don't know!
Never take for granted the gift of salvation.
Maybe, the title of this blog makes you a little uncomfortable. Maybe, it makes you a little upset and up for a good challenging argument. What ever emotion you are feeling, just hear me out...
I think the church in America has completely lost what it is to be the Church.
I want you to seriously consider and ask yourself this question.... does my church look like the church that Jesus described in the New Testament?
When reading Acts, the launch of the church planting movement, can you honestly say "my church is a good representation of that"?
In this season of life I find myself in a bunch of churches. All different kinds of churches. Non-Denom, southern baptist, charismatic, conservative... the works. And I am sad to say that there are so few churches that look like the church I read of in the New Testament.
On a positive note, there are some! And these churches are doing incredible things and seeing God move in unbeleivable ways! Some churches even openly acknowledge they have done it wrong for far to long and are attempting to get back on track.
But... not the majority.
Here's the problem... pastors are teaching their people the wrong thing.
I spoke at a church in the South Florida area and I spoke on Acts 1:8 and Matthew 28:18-20. You know.... the typical missionary passages. (you can listen to it here. It is the same message but at a different church)
I spoke primarily on how we are all commanded to go regardless of geographical location.
It was really meant to motivate people and move them to get out of the church building and actually be the church! I was commissioning them to go and make disciples just like Jesus commanded us!
At the end of the service I had this very nice lady who walked up to me and told me that she appreciated my message. She than told me a story about the family that lives next door to hers and how they always invite them over for dinner.
She then proceeded to tell me, quite proudly, that she always tells them; "I'll come to dinner when you come to church with me!"..... So far neither has happened.
In my mind I immediately began thinking, "did she hear my message at all?".
I very respectfully replied, "well what if you went to dinner and brought church to them? Who knows, maybe they will even one day come to church after all."
This story is the perfect example of the problem in our churches today. And pastors, we have to take responsibility for it. We have communicated this message of "bring your lost friends to church and we will take it from there"! Wether this was intentional or not, we have to honestly look into our churches and ask, "who is actually Going"?
We have to commission our people to go and make disciples just like Jesus did! And we need to help them realize that they really can do this. This isn't a job simply for pastors. We are "the Royal Priesthood of believers" (1 Peter 2:9)!
It's time we get back to being the church rather than going to church.