We have all done it. We have taken a portion of Scripture, whether literally or jokingly out of context to support an idea or action we were presently promoting. It seems that Scripture has transitioned from being the mirror of society, to the book of excuses for our sin and laziness. Is it any wonder the mention of the Bible turns the world off? As our country dives into wickedness, and our churches slowly die, I am having a hard time discovering the presence of God in most gatherings of believers across this nation. Rather than address the issues, our members reference Matthew 18:20 and Isaiah 40:31 as crutches on which to carry their traditions. Are their references valid? Is God present in the midst of these small groups of people meeting simply to uphold their childhood traditions? Let's take a look at these verses, and decide for ourselves.
Isaiah 40:31 says, "But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles;they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint." For far too long we have taken this portion of scripture as an excuse to sit and do nothing. We have magnified the word "wait" as a passive lingering in hopes of renewal. So, if that's truly what the word "wait" means, what is there really for the Lord to renew? Did the prophet really mean to challenge the believer to sit on his blessed assurance and do nothing? NO! This word "wait" comes from the word Niphal that is an active verb meaning "to collect or bind together." It would be the root word from which the word "waiter" is created. We aren't sitting and waiting on God to show up, we are actively waiting upon the Lord. It is is working on his behalf that we find the renewal to continue. How can He renew what is not currently taking place?
Matthew 18:20 says, "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." If this truly means that God's presence is real whenever 2 or 3 believers gather in his name, then why are we encountering so many dead churches? The Bible is opened, spiritual songs are sung, an alleged man of God is taking the pulpit to speak from the Word - yet the Holy Spirit is no where to be found!? As we take a look at these words "gathered together" we find that they come from the word synago which means "to draw together or collect like fishes, of a net in which they are caught." I believe the reason the Holy Spirit is not found among the gatherings of Christ-followers is because they are not actively drawing fish in with their nets. If we were truly BEING the church during the week, a natural sign of that movement will be growth in our gatherings. People WANT to be drawn into a place where the presence of God is real.
Friend, "church" is not just for you. Church is not JUST for "the church." As a member, it is your duty to WAIT upon the Lord. To do that which he requires of you. As fishers of men, we wait upon the Lord by casting our nets into our homes, workplaces, schools, and community. If we refuse to gather people in, the Spirit will vacate our dead ships. Stop stretching scripture to accommodate your laziness. Stop trying to trick people into believing you are something that you aren't. Make a choice today: WAIT on the Lord, and go fish for men or get out of the boat. The church's purpose is to stretch the nets that catch the lost. Transform your catch into a fisherman, and teach them how to wait upon the Lord. It's all about transformation.