Like the proverbial “elephant in the room,” there is an elephant in the church! The story goes like this: A huge, audacious, stubborn elephant is sitting in the center of the room, but everyone continues on with business as usual. People get so accustomed to seeing it staunchly implanted in the midst of daily activities that they begin to forget what life was like before the elephant arrived. Some people have never seen the room without the elephant. Others feed it on occasion, having developed a secretly-harbored affinity for the creature. And despite its undeniable presence, no one speaks about the elephant in the room.
The elephant of which I speak is this: The gospel, as we have proclaimed it, is having little effect on our culture, even on most who call themselves “Christians.”
I wonder if we’re so used to seeing the elephant that we’ve forgotten that, well, it really shouldn’t be there. It is no secret that a large percentage of people who “come to faith” never begin living a new life. They make a decision, walk an aisle, or pray a prayer, but their lives remain strangely void of spirituality. The rituals are there, but the Gospel doesn’t seem to transform them.
I believe the gospel can change lives, and I want to know why it doesn’t seem to be impacting people the way we’d expect. Are we missing something? Is there a part of the message of Jesus we have forgotten to proclaim? Is it simply that times have changed, and that the gospel is no longer relevant? Why does it feel like the gospel messages we hear today are only a faint echo of the powerful, thunderous truth that shook the world in centuries past? Obviously, there are answers to these questions.
There is a reason the elephant is in the church (maybe even in your church), and there’s a way to kick him out.
A few years ago, I set out with my friend Del Fehsenfeld III of Life Action Ministries to compile the answers. And, while developing those into a what we call today “Revive” Magazine (back then it was called “Spirit of Revival Magazine”), I’ve felt a tinge of excitement as I’ve sat at the feet of Christians, both past and present, who have practiced and proclaimed the power of the gospel. I’m filled with hope and expectation as I read testimonies of radically changed lives. I’m stirred by thoughtful articles written by people who have a passion to see the kingdom of God triumph over the forces of darkness. And I’m moved by the Word of God, living, active, and – if we are ready to receive it – thoroughly transforming.
There is hope. There is, in fact, Good News. The true gospel has power. The true gospel does change people – not just their religious affiliation, their church attendance, or some checkboxes on a doctrinal statement. No, the gospel actually transforms in the fullest and deepest sense of the word. The gospel can turn people into the magnificent creations they were intended to be. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God . . .” (Romans 1:16)
If you’d like to join me in addressing the biggest issue in the church today (those who think they are Christians but don’t live Jesus), I invite you to join the conversation. Let me know what you think in the comments below. Then, click over to the Revive site to this issue (Reviving the Gospel) to get started.
Art Credit on the Elephant: David Miles