I woke up a Sabbath morning last week around 8 a.m. feeling very tired, because I didn’t really have a good night sleep. So I decided to just stay in bed a ‘bit’ more. Fortunately my parents, where I stayed at during that time, live right above the church, so staying in bed a bit longer wasn’t that dangerous. Sabbath school starts at 9 a.m. To be honest, I felt very worn out and not fit or ready for going to a church service, where I barely knew anyone. Nevertheless, I got up and was on time for the service to begin.
In the background, in a distance, you could hear the constant sound of Harley Davidson-motorcycle engines. During that week (including the weekend) the annual ‘Harley Davidson European Biker Week‘ was taking place just around the corner from where my family lives. 70.000 bikers from all around Europe took the time to come to Austria to show their bikes, have fellowship with other bikers or just to party and make a lot of inevitable noise.
Sometimes it was so loud that you could not have a normal conversation outside, because of the interrupting sound of the ‘built-to-be-loud’-engines of driving by Harelys.
So there I was. Sabbathschool started and I decided to join a group where I didn’t really know anybody, which wasn’t that hard in that church (That is not the church’s fault. I am usually atttending a different church a couple hundred kilometers away).
It was the lesson about church-leadership and what 1Thessalonians 5:12-15 has to say about it.
As the discussion started I soon realized that there was a woman in our group who really, really had some issues going on against church-leadership and the church itself. All I heard out of her mouth was very negative. We continued talking about what we as church-members could do to make our church a better place. I couldn’t resist to mention my personal experience with prayer and how much power lies within it. Specially speaking about united prayer. I mentioned the very recent story of a church in North-Italy that developed from a basically dead or sleeping church to a mission-driven church which now has almost no more space for all their newly baptized members. This revival and immense church-growth happened only over the period of a few years. And it all started with two families coming together simply to pray.
This was what I wanted to emphasize with my comment. That prayer is so essential for a positive change.
What I heard next I did not expect.
“I feel sick when I hear ‘Let’s pray'”. It came from the woman that had nothing positive to say all day.
I was shocked. I just did not think a believer would ever say that. It left me almost speechless for a while.
I felt so sorry for her. I was thinking to myself ‘What kind of experiences must she have had in her past, that she would come to the point that a call for prayer would leave her with a sick stomach? What picture of God must she have? How sad must she sometimes be? … How can one help her? What happened?”
The conversation went on for a while and it became evident to me again, that we as an endtime movement are far away from being ready for what we are called to be. Namely an endtime movement!
A movement is a group of people with the same goal. With a plan. A definite direction.
Yes, officially we do have all of that. But to be honest, lately I haven’t seen this on the church-level so much. I love the glimpses of hope here and there when I look at the earnest and truth-seeking young people in our church today. It tells me that change can happen.
All throughout that Sabbath I was reminded of the Harley Davidsons all around thanks to the noise they made. And it made me think.
Here you have a group of devoted people. People who love their Harleys. Some maybe even ‘worship’ it. They spent lots of money, time and effort into their ‘Harelyism’ and they are willing to travel hundreds and thousands of kilometers to meet other people with the same passion. All driven by the same goal: To be a movement, united by what they love.
And then I look at the church. And I ask myself:
Are we a devoted people?
Do we love and worship God?
Do we use our money, time and effort for His cause?
Are we willing to ‘sacrifice’ for Him?
Are we driven by a goal?
Are we a movement?
Maybe I haven’t seen the bigger picture fully yet; maybe I am too idealistic. But I wish and pray, that the fire of revival will not only stay withing youth-movements, but also reach the local church very soon.
It just hurts to hear something like “I feel sick when I hear ‘Let’s pray'” in an Adventist church. It stands for all the sad, maybe desperate people who have lost hope or maybe never really had a real encounter with God. It stands for those brothers and sisters who know Daniel and Revelation by heart but have not met Jesus yet.
It is a call for all of us who profess that we love Jesus and those of us who have experienced that wonderful power of prayer.
Does this make us any ‘better’? No. But it gives us more responsability! We need to pray, love and work for this movement to happen/get started/continue. Whatever the situation in your local church may be. We need to gather as many people as we can for this last trip on our spiritual ‘Harleys’ to the promised land!
May the Spirit of Wisdom guide us and make us humble to be a tool to reach out to all those sad, lost and dissapointed brothers and sisters in our church rows.