Once a month I gather with a group of young theologians and ask questions, both to engage them in meaningful dialogue and learn from their perspectives. This week I asked "what is the greatest need in the American church?"
The discussion was rousing as we moved from one thought to the next, with each providing a deeper perspective. The first answer was "being a Christian is too easy." From there we moved back to the real problem being a societal minimization of sin that had invaded the evangelical movement. Finally we came to agreement that the greatest need of the American church was spiritual maturity that lived today in light of the Cross and Coming of Christ.
To live today with a "cross shaped life" is to take Jesus' seriously when he said we must "deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow him." But what does it mean to "take up your cross?" Simply this. To no longer put this world's goals and measurements before our eyes as that on which we are focused. Paul stated it well in Galatians 6:14: "But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world."
But this world has a powerful grip on our hearts and minds. We crave so much of what this world calls success, happiness, and comfort. So, how do we overcome its pull? Simply by focusing beyond this age and fixing our eyes on the next. In theological terms this means having an eschatological worldview. It means living now in light of the return of Christ. It means living out the cross life, ready to sacrifice today for the glory of our Lord's kingdom when he returns.
Our greatest need in the church today is not more notoriety, or political clout, or better worship songs. Our greatest need is for the Spirit of God to use the Word of God powerfully in the people of God in order that our hearts may be weaned away from the distractions of this passing world, to focus on the glories of partnering with Jesus Christ in preparing the Kingdom for his return. Even so come, Lord Jesus!