What is it that gets people stirred up with the body of believers you worship with? The answer to that question will reveal a lot about the core values of the congregation.

Do people get more riled up over someone being in “error” than they do with their own sin and mistakes? Do people get more upset over the violate of tradition than over lost people who aren’t being reached? Do people move to action more quickly over conversation of our country moving in the wrong direction than the church moving in the wrong direction?

When you put your finger on the hot button issues in a congregation, it gives you great insight into the culture, spirit and heart of the church for good or bad. And it isn’t always all good or all bad. We all have areas that we get worked up over that aren’t the main thing and we all have a few main thing items that should motivate us that don’t.

The question to keep in the back of your mind is this, “When you see people move to action with great fervor ask yourself, why?”

Sometimes we will find that the answer is has more to do with fear than with courage.

We see this online and we see it in the pews. It may not be reality but it often feels like there are more people who are trying to tear things down than build things up and more people who are ready to poke holes in things than people who are willing and able to build new entirely new things. Do we have a longer list of things we are afraid of and behaviors to avoid than we do things to be excited about and missions to be engaged in?

It is vitally important that churches and church leadership do not define their direction based on what they are running from but on Who they are running to and the vision and mission that God is calling us to. It will take insightful, humble, godly people to lead in that direction in a way that people will throw off the shackles of fear that have hindered the church in years past and take up the cause of Christ in visible, tangible and meaningful ways.

Let us renew within our fellowship the song of freedom and redemption found in Isaiah 35…let us speak these words over the people of God so they will truly know who they are and the hope they have as God’s children,

Isaiah 35

The desert and the parched land will be glad;
    the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.
Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom;
    it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to it,
    the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;
they will see the glory of the Lord,
    the splendor of our God.

Strengthen the feeble hands,
    steady the knees that give way;
say to those with fearful hearts,
    “Be strong, do not fear;
your God will come,
    he will come with vengeance;
with divine retribution
    he will come to save you.”

Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
    and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
Then will the lame leap like a deer,
    and the mute tongue shout for joy.
Water will gush forth in the wilderness
    and streams in the desert.
The burning sand will become a pool,
    the thirsty ground bubbling springs.
In the haunts where jackals once lay,
    grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.

And a highway will be there;
    it will be called the Way of Holiness;
    it will be for those who walk on that Way.
The unclean will not journey on it;
    wicked fools will not go about on it.
No lion will be there,
    nor any ravenous beast;
    they will not be found there.
But only the redeemed will walk there,
10     and those the Lord has rescued will return.
They will enter Zion with singing;
    everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
    and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

So be passionate, church, over the things God is calling us to. And let us together pursue with reckless abandon the call of Christ!