Summary: Do we really want to "see Jesus" and experience His fire or are we going to settle for religious acts and pious practices.
On Easter Sunday morning Mary Magdalene exclaimed: "The Lord has been taken away and I do not know where they have put Him" (John 20:13). I can relate to Mary Magdalene. I don’t know about you, but I don’t hear much talk about Jesus anymore. You can attend Church for weeks at a time and not even hear his name mentioned. You can go on retreats that focus on Kingdom issues and ideas but King Jesus seems to get lost in the shuffle. Jesus is the supposed subject of conventions, prayer meetings and fellowship groups but you have to search to find Him. More often than not He is buried in the footnotes somewhere. Even intercessory prayer seems to be focused on getting our needs met rather than on exalting Jesus.
We have lost sight of Jesus Christ in His position as Head of the Church. We have lost Jesus somewhere in our process of training or studying theology. We have philosophized and analyzed so much that Jesus has been lost in our intellectualism. He is not the center of church programs, nor is He the center of the average believer’s life. Because our Lord has been lost in the church, the church has become ineffectual in meeting the need of humanity.
George Barna (www.Barna.org) a Christian researcher and pollster reported recently: "Too many Christians and churches in America have traded in spiritual passion for empty rituals, clever methods and mindless practices. The challenge to today’s church is not methodological. It is a challenge to resuscitate the spiritual passion and fervor of the nation’s Christians."
A newspaper reporter wrote an article recently on an interview he conducted with various religious leaders on the subject of how does one get to heaven. A Catholic pastor responded: "We believe in the Catholic Church that fulfillment and completion comes in becoming a full, active and participating member of the Catholic faith. That means first of all participating in our sacramental life, by experiencing the wonderful, beautiful sacrament of baptism. Then, secondly, by responding to that by being confirmed in the church and also then ultimately receiving holy Eucharist, the body and blood of Christ, which is the action of unity in the church."
That’s a good theological description of the Catholic faith but it’s pretty dry and lifeless. It sounds a lot like many sermons we hear. It certainly wouldn’t inspire you and move you to want to give your life for it. It kind of goes in one ear and out the other and has about as much impact as some routine greeting of "have a nice day."
Where’s Jesus! Where’s the King of Kings! Where’s the author and finisher of our faith! Have we reduced Him to a few lines of dogma? He whom Bishop S. M. Lockridge calls "the wellspring of wisdom, the doorway to deliverance, the pathway to peace, the roadway to righteousness, the highway to holiness, the gateway to glory, the master of the mighty, the Captain of the conquerors, The Head of the heroes and The Lord of Lords."
We have accomplished the impossible, we have hidden Jesus! We have reduced evangelism to "come to our church." Join our faith. Much like joining Costco or shopping at K-Mart. Wait till you see our "blue-light specials" and hear our praise bands.
Do we really know Him or do we just know about Him? Do our seminaries only fill our future priests with intellectual knowledge of philosophy and doctrine? Are the graduates of these seminaries led to a blazing encounter with Christ Jesus? Are they introduced to the power of the Holy Spirit to heal and cast out demons like Jesus did? If not, why not?
God is not a philosophy or a dogma. He is a person who MUST be encountered. If I haven’t met Jesus personally, I have been robbed. I have been sold only a bill of intellectual goods. I have been given a picture of Jesus, but not led into an intimate relationship with Him. It’s like me having a picture of my wife hanging on the wall of my house but I never ever get to see, touch, smell or hold her in my arms and be intimate with her. How long would that marriage last? How long can my walk with God last if it’s just in my head? We are commanded to love God with all our hearts, minds, souls and strength. To do that, all of our heart, mind, soul and strength must encounter Jesus in a very personal and intimate way.
God values experience of Him above knowledge of Him. The bible teaches that "we are to grasp fully with all the holy ones, the breath and length and height and depth of Christ’s love and experience this love, which surpasses all knowledge so that we may attain to the fullness of God himself." (Eph 3:18-19) The reason God values heart knowledge above head knowledge is because our hearts will take us places that our heads can never lead us to. Our minds are better followers than leaders. Who of us could intellectually explain what an encounter with Jesus was all about? Who of us could intellectually explain what the Baptism in the Holy Spirit was all about? It had to be experienced! Then we exclaimed: now I understand what you were trying to tell me.