Typically in February the President of the United States addresses a joint session of Congress and delivers the traditional “State of the Union.” This year’s address was much different. In a symbolic way, it reminds us that the state of our union is somewhat uncertain at this moment.
There is always plenty of political maneuvering and rhetorical gymnastics associated with such speeches. However, at this time in our nation, there exists an increased division and dissension. Oh how we need a spiritual awakening in our land!
My greatest burden is not just for the state of our union politically or economically but for the state of the church spiritually. You see, the condition of the nation is deeply rooted in the condition of God’s people. As goes the church, so goes the nation.
Very frequently I am asked, “What are trends you see in churches across the country?” It is easy to make broad generalizations, but the truth is that each local assembly is unique and the spiritual temperature varies greatly from place to place. However, there are a few things I have consistently observed about the state of local churches in our nation…
- The church needs a return to genuine prayer. Not just a meeting called “the prayer meeting” or a passing time of prayer in our regular services, but a specific, concentrated emphasis on seeking the Lord. It is not enough to say that the church needs revival. The church needs earnest, desperate prayer – that is the only way to have the revival that is needed. We must begin to pray big prayers to our big God again. He is able to do more than we could ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).
- The church needs gospel laborers. This has always been the case, as is evidenced by the Lord Jesus Christ making this His prayer request (Matthew 9:38). In our day a tidal wave of faithful pastors and Christian workers are preparing to pass off the scene and pass the mantle…to whom? There is a shocking shortage of young people entering the Lord’s work. And it is not just people going into vocational ministry, there must be a fresh enlistment of every believer into the work of the gospel. Our time is short and the harvest is greater than ever.
- The church needs increased faith. Everyone’s favorite verse these days seems to be, “But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse…” (2 Timothy 3:13). True, but read the next verse! “But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them” (v. 14). When God said evil would grow He never said His power would lessen! I am alarmed by the low expectations among many of God’s people. This is our time to believe the Lord and press forward. We are not to hold the fort, we are to charge the gates of hell (Matthew 16:18). Dear God, give us the courage that grows out of faith.
Let’s get personal for a moment. It is easy to talk about the state of the church as some vague matter, or in terms of what others need to do. What about me?
What is the state of my prayer life? What needs to be eliminated so that I can give myself more fully to the work of prayer?
What is the state of my gospel witness? How can I be more engaged in getting the truth out and bringing people in?
What is the state of my faith? Where do I need to believe God at this moment for greater things?
Only the Head of the church truly knows the condition of His body. We see signs of vitality or of concern. Shortly we will gather around the throne at the Judgment Seat of Christ and all will be made known. The church age will soon be over.
We may be the last wave of New Testament believers before the Founder returns. May God help us all to be the church He died for us to become. This is our moment and we must not miss it.