Initiative seems to be one of the greatest needs in American church.
I believe this is a product of the instant gratification and entitlement society that we have been able to create. You want a movie? Stream it instantly. Need to get a hold of someone? Text/Call/Facebook/Tweet directly to them and receive a reply almost immediately. Don’t want to work? Sit around and have everything provided to you. But if something needs to be done, few want to hop in. We’ve actually even gotten away from people being skeptical and asking questions about an idea. Rather, like a Facebook Newsfeed, they can either “Like” something or keep on going without any required interaction. Initiative would have us act upon the needs that we are looking for and discover.
Entropy is an interesting concept. It means that without having energy applied to something, it will deteriorate over time. The concept easily seen in a house that is left vacant. The wood rots, dust gathers, insects move in, and things generally fall apart. Our modern society is like this house because the church has become happy to maintain our buildings, but not our families. In 1 Thessalonians 2 Paul gives a testimony of his time with this church. In verses 8-9 he says, “So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us. For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.”
You see, Paul spent much of his time moving around and he didn’t live off of fundraisers or require there to be provisions given to him. He even talks about in this chapter how he could have expected such things, but he didn’t. Instead Paul worked a job to provide for himself SO THAT he could continue sharing the Gospel with the Thessalonians. He didn’t just share the Gospel once and then leave because he only raised enough money to stay for two weeks. No. Paul worked at it and genuinely cared about these people. He saw a need and worked hard to make the Gospel available to those people.
Maybe that is the true problem. “Christians” are not loving people the way they ought to.
When Jesus called us to love others, it wasn’t in a culture that said, “Hey, how are you this morning?” when they saw someone at church. It was in an engaging culture. He expected us to love people in a sacrificial manner that we aren’t comfortable with doing and we are really awful at doing. As a follower of Christ, our burden is no longer sin but love toward others. Phillip knew this when he engaged the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8:26-39.
Phillip was sent by the Holy Spirit to Gaza and on the way he was told to join a chariot. From here, Phillip notices that this man is reading from Isaiah and he engages the man with questions. He creates an opportunity to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with this man and by the end of the chapter, the man is baptized and goes on rejoicing. Phillip was observant of what was going on around him and cared to teach someone from a totally different culture about what was most important to us.
We need to be looking for these opportunities. Following Christ in a wedding like Paul wrote about in Ephesians means that we learn what He cares about and we care about those things. We seek out ways to make him happy and to love others as if it was the Lord we are loving… because it is the Lord in the end.
The Church needs to love people like the early Church did.