‘Rather than “standing on the promises,” many Christians are simply “sitting on the premises.”’ [Daniel Henderson, PRAYzing! (NavPress)]
Devout bystanders. Faithful pew-sitters. Attentive audiences.
Somehow, I don’t think this is what Jesus had in mind.
Don’t get me wrong, though – for some of us, the fact that we are sitting on the premises is a very good thing! Showing up is a first-step for those of us who are curious or lonely or broken. Surrounded by God’s faithful, we can find hope in hopeless situations! Church is exactly where we need to be!
The problem begins, however, when we realize that many of those who are sitting beside us have been sitting there for a very long time. Week in and week out, singing the songs and reading the words and going through the worship rituals as if on auto pilot, or maybe as if idling endlessly with no intention of shifting out of park.
Francis Chan, in his video lessons on The Forgotten God, talks about this in terms of a football team. The team huddles and the coach lays out the play. They get pumped up. They give a hearty ‘Go! Fight! Win!’ They break the huddle. And they sit down on the bench.
Into the huddle they go, again, only to enthusiastically break and head back to sit on the sideline – never making their well-thought-out plays. Never engaging the other team. Never even playing the game.
It’s one thing to show up and sit down in hopes that God will move you. It’s quite another to do this year after year, with nothing but a church membership to show for it. The extent to which our churches have become the huddle of an inactive team is the degree to which the enemy is winning the big game, my friends. And this should not be so!
Paul wrote to the believers at Corinth about God’s promises:
“God has made a great many promises. They are all “Yes” because of what Christ has done. So through Christ we say “Amen.” We want God to receive glory.” 2 Corinthians 1:20
When we consider that the God we worship is this “Yes” and “Amen” God of the Bible, we can’t help but consider his great promises as well.
Promises to be always with us.
Promises to give us a hope and a future.
Promises to send His actual Presence to live within our actual bodies.
Promises to surround us with protection as we pray.
With promises like these from the eternal “Yes” Himself, of course we want to shout “Amen!” But then we break the huddle, head home, and find ourselves once again sitting on the sidelines while the game plays on. Sitting, as Daniel Henderson writes, on the premises. Again.
This inaction we so easily adopt is not the fruit of a life filled with Christ! In fact, Paul says that God:
“makes both us and you stand firm because we belong to Christ. He anointed us. He put His Spirit in our hearts and marked us as His own. We can now be sure that he will give us everything he promised us.” 2 Corinthians 1:21-22
We can now be SURE! God is going to COME THROUGH!
He has claimed us, anointed us, indwelled us and marked us as His own. We wear His team colors! We huddle with those who belong to Him! We empower our coaches to teach us the plays and we work together, so that we’re all on the same play and can get into position as soon we shout “Go! Fight! Win!” Break.
That bench sure looks inviting – not necessarily comfy, but safe. I know. I’ve done time on the sidelines, too.
But today… today we get into the game, my friends. We wear our gear and we show our true colors and we choose to give glory to God. The God who says “Yes” to every one of His promises! The God who has laid out the plays in His Word and has called us to love and to serve – just like Jesus did.
Jesus began by showing up, but His life’s work was done by standing up to evil and by running the plays that God called. And now He makes US to stand firm as His own, with all of His promises showing!
Seriously, now. Are you going to take this sitting down?
ON YOUR FEET!