LISTENING VS. RETROFITTING
How well do we understand the times that we live in?
The whole notion of understanding the times might infer that once we know what’s going on we will figure out how to be meaningful and relevant. If we could just understand more about social trends and the values of our culture, we could effectively set up shop to meet their needs and fill our churches.
The question is what does the future hold? It might seem that even our best thinkers in Christendom are still just guessing at what’s going to happen next. Like gamblers at the casino, everyone’s looking for a perfect system with which to place their bets.
Your eschatology certainly has an affect on how you read the times. And sometimes, people will forecast what’s supposed to be happening next. There is this variable though, that we cannot control. Things always happen that were unforeseen by most. The returning ice age predicted in the 70’s is replaced with global warming. 88 Reasons Why Christ will return in 1988… umm….
We need to understand our times for sure. But, don’t think that this will give us a clue about what God is going to do in human history or what humans are going to do next.
Jesus is telling the experts of his day (and maybe us), that we have a limited capacity with our powers of observation. We can accurately predict weather… maybe not… we know that it looks like rain, but we are illiterate when it comes to knowing the times and seasons in God’s schedule.
But wait you say… there has to be something that we can discern and act upon in our present time. To that, I would say yes. Like the churches of Asia Minor, we still need a prophet to proclaim what the Spirit is saying to the church… the church at large and the church you attend.
It’s not always the same message from God. The personality of your church is different than all the others in town. When the Spirit is speaking to your church, it will be personal and relevant to the times that your church is in. You cannot retrofit the old time religion as a model for every setting.
Perhaps your church is in a time of new birth. Perhaps you are in a time of palliative care. Perhaps your congregation is having a midlife crisis or going through puberty. You need to hear different things at varying ages.
Maybe you have read the books, listened to the podcasts and went to the conferences and are still scratching your head to figure out how to be more effective as a pastor, a ministry or a church. Chances are you might wear yourself out trying to understand it all.
But what if, the greatest need we have is to hear what the Spirit has in mind for our little flock and our city? What might God say to you in your setting and times? Some of you have many woes and troubles and might wonder if it’s worth it all. Shouldn’t things get better?