You’ve visited there. Maybe you even grew up there. The little church where one Sunday passes pretty much like the others … year after year. Baptize the young ones. Marry the couples. Bury the old folk. Eventually the funerals outnumber the baptisms … and the weddings … combined.
It’s a formal little congregation. Robes. Candles. Strains of Bach in the air. Latin phrases in the worship folder. This one even has its own Latin motto chiseled in granite above the entrance: “Rigor Mortis.”
Don’t be too quick to judge. Dead churches come in all shapes and sizes – and follow all kinds of worship plans. Some stately, others undignified, but all set in their ways. Their motto not “Rigor Mortis,” but “Status Quo.”
Beware the tyranny of the status quo. There is no greater enemy of kingdom advance. But this enemy doesn’t crush us in a moment of horrible violence. The status quo conquers us quietly, like an insidious, creeping cancer. Unaware of the danger, we recognize the symptoms too late. Our defeat is sealed before we can raise a hand in defense.
The status quo presses two captivities on God’s children.
The first oppression is the captivity of business as usual, which subdues the victim with a frontal assault of raw power. Perhaps we are threatened by the powers that be, fearful for our well-being and intimidated into silence. Or perhaps we are simply overwhelmed by the pressures of daily life, constantly scrambling to meet the urgent demands and missing out on eternity in the process. Either way, we are submitting to the lordship of an unworthy master.
The second captivity is a more subtle strategy of conquest. Like Peter, you have the privilege of being with Jesus on the mountaintop. The power of God breaks loose. Moses and Elijah appear. You stand speechless in the holiness and majesty of the moment. Then the Enemy whispers: “Build a building and stay a while.” God’s lost children are back in the valley, but you love the thrill of the mountaintop. “Perhaps we can make our camp here.”
We often are reluctant to challenge the status quo in the world. Deep down we fear the powers that be. The world order punishes those who don’t conform to its pattern. It savaged Jesus and will be no kinder to you if you insist on following him. On top of that, perhaps the status quo has been good to you. You are at ease in your own little Zion. A comfortable life could be taken away if you make too much of this Jesus thing.
Many of us won’t even challenge the status quo in our own lives. We submit to the dictatorship of habit and routine and the expectations of others. So many demands. So many pressures. It’s all we can do to cope. Deep down, we’re afraid to take the risk of giving it all to God. We busy ourselves with the details and settle for humdrum when God has miracles in store.
Nowhere is the tyranny of the status quo more tragic, however, than in our life together. At times it amounts to idolatry.
Consider the lost church, a congregation so long preoccupied with its programs that it has forgotten its reason for being. Its passion for the unsaved has disappeared down the misty hallways of history – so the necessary has been replaced with something good. Maybe fellowship. Maybe community service or political action. Perhaps even missions education. Anything but bearing the fruit of the Kingdom.
Then there’s the vibrant congregation, a body in love with its own vitality. Bright, attractive people with an entertaining program. A building in the right part of town. The church grows by the force of its own popularity. Notoriety breeds success. While at first people were drawn to the gospel, at some point they began coming for the society. The church house becomes the place to see and be seen. God’s mission gets lost in the happy bustle of activity and the celebration of excitement.
The believer should always be grateful for the place to which God has brought him. Each congregation should rejoice in the body life God has given it. We must never rest anywhere, however, except in the grace of God. There is no place along life’s road where we can raise a shelter and make a dwelling. When we become satisfied with the progress we have made, complacency follows. God’s work of grace is never complete in this life.
You cannot serve God and preserve the status quo. The Lord is the God of Transformation. His agenda for the world is change. He created the world in fellowship and light; the Enemy has filled it with alienation and darkness. The Father’s deepest desire and eternal intention is to banish the darkness, overthrow the Oppressor and bring his lost children home. This calls for total, radical change – first in your life, then in the lives of those around you.
The Father’s work is finished in heaven, but not on earth. Darkness reigns in many quarters. God’s lost children cry out in pain. The Father will not rest until the last of his children is returned to his arms. We must not rest until he does. To make camp is to stop following the Father.
Until God’s will is done “on earth as it is in heaven,” the status quo is your enemy. Seek it out. Confront it. Root it out. Set your heart on things above, and press on.
The reward is walking with God as he brings the world back to himself – and standing before the throne with brothers and sisters from every nation, tribe, language and people.
Copyright © 2006, Kainos Press All Rights Reserved