Francis Chan on Illuminate the Mystery

Exponential

A couple weeks ago I was in Waco, Texas and someone said to me, “Did you know you can surf in Waco?” Texas Surf Park has made this cool wave pool. Every 90 seconds, a new wave breaks in all directions of the pool. There’s an actual guarantee that you will have waves.

In many ways, that wave pool reminds me of the church.

I think you’ll agree that we can all create waves. I can make a wave start at 9:20, have it peak at 9:30 and then die out at 9:50 in time for the kids to get out of childcare. I can create a wave, and everyone has a blast. We all can.

And then we walk away and say to ourselves, Whoa! God moved.

But in reality, that wave was man-made. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of making waves. I want to see God do something that only He can do. I want to watch His hand move and say, “There’s no way I could’ve made that wave.”

 

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of making waves. I want to see God do something that only He can do.

Recently, one of my buddies shared with me about his time ministering overseas. He told me about being in this little village and praying for a 60-year-old woman who had been blind since birth. As he was praying, she began to scream that she could see. She ran into the village and all the people just flooded my friend and their team. Now that’s a wave. You don’t just make that happen.

I’m convinced that as long as we’re okay with being in the wave pool and just creating a little bit of excitement, we’re not going to see the things we see in Scripture.

I think there are two big reasons why we tend to stay in the wave pool.

1. We don’t realize who our God is.

In Hebrews 12, Scripture gives us a description of God that I doubt we think of when we say the word “God”:

“For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them” (Heb. 12:18-19; ESV). 

When you pray, do you picture yourself praying to a blazing fire? A tempest? Do you think about innumerable angels gathering around that blazing fire? (Heb. 12:22). The scriptures say He can’t be touched. Moses said, “I am trembling with fear right now. I’m going to go up that mountain to talk to that?”

Here’s a better question: Is this God what your people are thinking about when they pray to Him? Do they worship like they know that this is our God?

Or do we just casually sing, ”I want to see you, I want to touch you”?

I’m guessing that if we truly understood whose presence we are coming into, we wouldn’t be asking questions like “who’s preaching today” or “who’s leading worship.” As leaders, we have to bring people back to the scriptures. They need to understand it’s an honor to come before our God. In the craziness and busyness of our world, we cannot lose sight of what an honor it is to pray. Are you equipping every disciple to grow in the Lordship of Jesus?

 

Are you equipping every disciple to grow in the Lordship of Jesus?

2. We don’t grasp what it means to be part of the body of Christ.

In Ephesians 1, Paul writes that God gave us Jesus as the head of the church—that this all-consuming fire has put all things under His feet. And that we are part of Christ’s body. That somehow, I am the fullness of Him who fills everything. (Eph. 1:22-23)

That’s mind-blowing to me: I’m part of that untouchable fire, this tempest that can’t be touched?

Do you grasp that about yourself? Were your people thinking about themselves like this—that they are the fullness of Christ—last weekend? We have to get our people into the scriptures and remind them about who they are and who is with them.

As leaders of His Church, we have to ask this all-consuming fire to ingrain this passage in our people so that every time they pray, that’s what they’re thinking about. So that they have this confidence that they’re the fullness of Christ—that they’re part of this sacred mystery.

Paul tells the church of Ephesus that only the fullness of Jesus can fill everything in every way. As leaders, we have to continually illuminate this mystery. Jesus has chosen and appointed His Church to express his fullness into every corner of culture and sphere of society.

 

Paul tells the church of Ephesus that only the fullness of Jesus can fill everything in every way.

If we believed that, how would it change the way we live and lead our churches? God has made us for so much more than to create or ride man-made waves.


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*adapted from Francis Chan’s main stage message Exponential Orlando 2019