Signs For The Times
Why is it that whenever there is a move of the Holy Spirit in a Church or a town a number of Christians feel the need to go and have a look or try and experience it? You’ve probably heard about a number of people who have done just that when the ‘Toronto Blessing’ happened, which started in 1994 at the Toronto Airport Vineyard Church nd more recently at the Victory Church, Cwmran in April 2013. At both locations there have been signs of miracles and other manifestations of the Holy Spirit. Some of these signs being demonstrated by laughter, shaking and crying. Are they hoping it is infectious and beneficial to them without having to put in any effort, riding on the back of someone else’s years of prayer and fasting? We live in a society where everything is readily available where we don’t need to make an effort, e.g. microwave and fast food. Does this attitude exist in the pew where we are subconsciously shouting “Feed Me!” and wanting a home delivery?
Is this a sign that ‘spiritual’ consumerism is alive and well within the church?
I have never had that urge to visit places where there has been increased spiritual activity. Is that wrong? Have I missed out? Should I be seeking God wherever he shows up? It all seems a bit desperate. But maybe that’s where I need to get to – a place of desperation in which I will do anything to experience Him more. However, I’m not convinced. I readily acknowledge people have been healed, restored and blessed in their journeys to these places and I praise God for that. But why doesn’t it happen to the same level back in our own churches? John 3:38 says of the Spirit that it “blows where it wishes,” so I know we can’t dictate to God to whom or where he blesses.
The thing is that I long for these wonders and signs to happen in my Church but what does it take for me to see that happen? Jesus said in John 14:12 – “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.” I have to admit I’m still waiting for this verse to come into reality. Okay I know, God hasn’t changed, so it must be me. It’s not a great comfort.
Testimony of God’s intervention in people’s lives is a powerful message and increases faith and belief both inside and outside the Church, but our faith is more than experiences – it constitutes our core worldview. It is the foundation of our hope and peace in hard times and the source of joy in periods of happiness. It shapes our thinking on all matters.
The conclusion I am slowly coming to is that perhaps it not the experiences we should seek after but the Person. A telling verse is found in Ps 103:7 – “He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel.” The people saw the miracles of provision throughout their 40 year journey but Moses understood and knew the heart of God. Maybe as we seek the heart of God, the experiences and moves of His power will follow.
Our faith is not just about the Church: it is relevant for all of society. What is today’s society is looking for within the Church? Are they looking for powerful signs, or do the effects of these ‘signs and wonders’ just wash off with time and lose their impact? Just as the Jews were demanding of Jesus, in questioning His authority, maybe the world is looking for integrity within the Church more than the supernatural.
Reality is all-important within the Church, the people outside looking in want to see people who care, are loving and understand where people are at. Church needs to have a focus that is cultivating a passion for Jesus, a relationship that is delving deeper into God and which will manifest itself in serving others. We need to be contagious with God’s love and compassion – “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and, Love your neighbour as yourself”. Luke 10:27.
We need to be hungry for God to change our lives and impact the world around us. This type of mind-set all of us can adopt and we don’t have to pack a bag to go get it: we can stay home and do it. We don’t want those seeking faith to be sign/experience seekers but to find a relationship that is far greater in intensity than any ‘experience’.
With all that said my heart does long that God will pour His Spirit across the nations and that His influence would be seen, especially where I live. I think I’ll still keep my bag unpacked and keep persevering where I am.