But maybe we need more people who are a little bit crazy. Martin Luther had “fire in the belly” … he had that internal burning and spirit to do what he believed was right and what he felt called to do … and he kept that fire in his belly for life. Today, new believers seem to get that fire in the belly and it lasts a few weeks or maybe a couple of years but, for most of us, it sort of dies away over time.
Yeah, we may get involved in some ministry work but it becomes something we do “on the side” … you know, Wednesday nights or Thursday nights or something. And, yeah, we go to church on Sunday and get our “feeding” from a sermon … but that unfortunately doesn’t even last as long as the exorbitantly expensive Sunday lunch we then go eat at some restaurant with our family. Most of us (I include myself) then return to our already-too-full and too-burdened lives … lives that are ultimately full of “self” … until next Sunday morning.
You know what I think? I think we need another Martin Luther. Someone to open our eyes, clear away cobwebs and logs, and force us to re-examine how we, now in 2008, do church. Who knows, maybe God is raising up someone right now to be our next Martin Luther, 500 years after Luther’s “95 Theses” was posted on the Wittenberg Door. Except I am not sure that we as victims of our media-sabotaged culture could handle 95 points them. We better pull it back to three or so soundbites.
Don’t get me wrong – there are many churches out there doing great Kingdom building things. They are teaching, leading, inspiring, dreaming, feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, and even welcoming those who don’t look like themselves or live the same lifestyle. But those churches are few and far between. Usually only a handful per large metropolitan area along with a few others scattered in between. There are so few of them, in fact, that there could be a natural tendency for them to become arrogant and not strive for unity of the Body … or to rest on their laurels and stop dreaming. Neither of those is good.
After living a ministry of granting grace and reminding his followers to trust their Father and not be so full of themselves, Jesus left two major lessons for us. One was his admonition to Peter – “If you love me, feed my sheep” and the other was His command to love one another. These are both Kingdom-building things. In essence, He was saying “Hey, I won’t be physically walking with you for awhile now BUT here are the keys to building my Father’s Kingdom while I am gone. This is what it’s all been about folks. It’s not about your selves. It’s not about worrying about accumulating the “stuff” of this world as you know it. It’s about loving and serving others and bringing them into Kingdom living. Come … love each other … teach each other … feed my sheep.”
Today’s church – and when I say that – I mean all Christ-following denominations – needs to be about those things. Somehow, things need to be shaken up. We need a Martin Luther to stand us on our heads. We need to join together to accomplish the things Jesus left us to do. We need to build the Kingdom. We need to change the world.
But it’s a big world out there. Big and often scary. Jesus’ disciples and early followers went out in pairs. No individual person or congregation or denomination can change the world. Oh, we can have an impact and we can change small parts of the world and we can apply band-aids here and there. But a true world-changing, Kingdom-building spiritual movement? We’ve got to join together and use the power that He has given us.
Going to church on Sundays, listening to a sermon, staying in our own cliques, not crossing denominational lines, creating protectionist fortresses … none of that is cutting it. And it is not what Jesus called us to do. Sure, those things all have a place and a time and a purpose but at some point we need to release ourselves. We need to get beyond the things of our increasingly onerous culture and GO.
I wrote awhile back about a dream I have of a ministry which simply inspires people to cut across lines, to chase dreams, to follow God, to join together, to forge ahead, to leave behind, to be bold, to be inclusive, to be grace-filled, to be teachers and lovers … to change the world. Does anyone else have that dream?
We need a Martin Luther. We need to be a little bit crazy. We need everlasting fire in our belly.