What Happens When the Church Acts Like the Church

Sometimes I mutter to myself, “They just don’t make stuff like they used to. And honestly there are times I’m very happy that they don’t.” For instance:

The Big Cartoon forum describes an old episode of Popeye the Sailor man like this, “Olive Oyl takes up ballet and tries to teach Popeye its ways, as she wants him to be her partner in the show. Popeye is not too enthusiastic, especially when Olive tries to get him to emulate her dancing with a flower while calling out “Wake up, little rosebud, wake up!” as Mendelssohn’s “Spring Song” plays in the background. (Ballet de Spinach Popeye; King Features Syndicate, 1960)

“Wake up, little rosebud?” Hmmm …I don’t blame you Popeye.

There’s a powerful prophetic word in Isaiah 52, though. It shouts “wake up!”  and it’s anything but silly. This prophecy tells what happens when the Church stands up and starts acting like the Church.

There is a double fulfillment of this word—one is still in the future for Israel but one is present for all who trust the Lord Jesus. It’s a wake-up call to God’s people.

What does God say to us?

“Wake up!” ( “Awake, awake, O Zion …” 52:1)

We get excited talking about renewal but revival has a lot in common with waking up in the morning. Most of the time when I hear the alarm clock, I groan inwardly, “Just a few more minutes. This feels so good.”

We want a spiritual awakening, but our sleepy stupor feels so good. It’s hard to escape the warm embrace of the covers. God’s Word to us is, “Awake, awake!”

At first you get up from your bed, simply because you know you should. But, after a cup (or two) of coffee, a little sunshine, and a little birdsong you wonder why you ever wanted to stay in the sack.

Put Your Clothes On!

Then put your clothes on! That goes without saying doesn’t it? Well, it should but we often meet the day half-dressed spiritually.

Jesus commanded the disciples to wait until they were clothed with the power of the Spirit before they ventured forth to take the world.

His disciples were well instructed in the Word. They knew Jesus. But, that wasn’t enough. They needed His power. And that power is available to every one of us (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8). Remember, Jesus order to be clothed with power from on high wasn’t a suggestion or a request. It was a command.

But, that was given to the disciples of that day. Do I still need His Spirit?  If Peter, James, John, and Mary the mother of Jesus needed that clothing of power from on high to do God’s work, how much more do I need it?

And I need to stay clothed and full of his Spirit. The same people who were Spirit-filled the day of Pentecost had that filling renewed and renewed (Acts 4:8, 31). “Be being filled” with the Spirit is the idea in the original Greek of Ephesians 5:18.

“…clothe yourself with strength. Put on your garments of splendor…”

Sometimes it means you have to get up from your defeat and shake off your old way of living and thinking.  “Shake off your dust; rise up, sit enthroned, O Jerusalem,” in order to share in the victory that Jesus won at Calvary.

“That you may know…what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.

“And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all…and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” (Eph. 1: Eph. 1:18-23; 2:6)

Some act arrogantly when they read these verses, but we’ve nothing to be proud about. Jesus won the victory at Calvary. We just come in for the “mopping up” part. But, “Shake off your dust; rise up, sit enthroned …”

Break Off Those Chains  
One more thing here, “Free yourself from the chains on your neck, O captive Daughter of Zion.” When we lived without Christ we bragged about our freedom. But, so many of the things we were “free to do” became our masters. We thought we were free—until we tried to get away.

We see so many people today who are slaves to their freedom—slaves to sexual addictions of all kind, slaves to money, slaves to alcohol, slaves to having a good time, slaves to selfishness, slaves to laziness. If we want to wake up and dress up we’ve got to break off the chains of anything that holds us back.

Notice, he doesn’t say, “Let God break those chains off your neck.”  In Jesus you have the power to break them. You start and He’ll give the possibility and the power. So many Christians try to live the wide-awake life, clothed with spiritual power. But, they can’t pull the new clothes of power over the chains around their neck.

Break those chains off in the Name of the Lord!

“I’ve tried but I can’t do it,” you cry. Get help then. Ask others to pray, for counsel, to walk with , but by all means find a way to get free. The Lord WILL help you if you desperately want Him to. Then you can run with joy and war with power against the enemy of your souls.

Wake up, little Christian, wake up.

What practical steps can Christians take to wake up from their sleepiness? Leave your reply below.

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