Marilyn and I spent Sunday evening watching the Whoopi Goldberg movie Sister Act. It seemed a little cheesy at first, but as the movie progressed I found myself challenged as a group of nuns slowly but surely became a blessing to their neighbourhood. Services at a once almost empty church started to be full. Fences that had separated the church from the streets outside were taken down, and people with a variety of very colourful backgrounds were drawn to the church. Now I know it is only a movie, but I couldn’t help but wonder how the church today has become so irrelevant to society, and what could be done to reverse the decline.
In the movie the church changed, but contrary to the fears of the Reverend Mother, there was no compromise of the Gospel message, and no weakening of faith. If anything faith grew, beautifully complemented by joy as the nuns came to realise just what God can do when human beings release some of the inhibitions that structured religion uses to imprison them.
Last Sunday morning our minister spoke about the spirit of mission (Acts 13:1-12). He used the word ‘MORE’ – a word that has been very much on my mind for over a year now. Towards the end of the message our minister asked; “What is the Holy Spirit’s call and strategy for our church?” Then he said; “Almost always a Holy Spirit call involves change.”
The main change in Sister Act was that the people of God came out of the church building, and sought mission in the neighbourhood outside. I am wondering just how we can do that in 2016? One thing is certain – we can’t change anything without the Holy Spirit. But surely, first of all, He needs to change us. There is always more. Are we asking for more, expecting more? Do we expect God to change us more? Do we expect Him to work through us to bring change to the people around us? Do we hope to see revival? Because doesn’t it start with us?
Among the prophets and teachers of the church at Antioch of Syria were Barnabas, Simeon (called “the black man”), Lucius (from Cyrene), Manaen (the childhood companion of King Herod Antipas), and Saul. One day as these men were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Dedicate Barnabas and Saul for the special work to which I have called them.” So after more fasting and prayer, the men laid their hands on them and sent them on their way.
So Barnabas and Saul were sent out by the Holy Spirit. (Acts 13:1-4 NLT)