What’s Going to Be Left?

"We have all heard the question:"What would be left if the Holy Spirit were taken away from our churches?" We all know the answer: "Not very much would change, because in reality, there is only a very minimal activity of the Holy Spirit in our churches." Maybe we could more easily find our true state if we were to examine each phase of the church’s activity from another aspect... by turning the question around and asking ourselves, "Where would we be if all of man's activity were removed from our churches?" What would be left if this were to take place? Who is leading the affairs of our churches? is it God, or is it man? Anyone that is willing to be honest would have to say that Christianity in general, and our movement in particular, is many times over more horizontal than vertical in its focus, and sadly, in its direction.

A lot of what we are doing is the product of habit and policy and form , and not from the revealed leadership of God. How many of our meetings, and how much of our ministries and our missions are the product of God’s direct leading as opposed to the standard form set forth by those who have gone before or those who are going along side of us?

Going back to our question: “What would be left if the Holy Spirit were taken away from our churches?" As we approach a new year, I think we’d do well to slow down and apply this question to each area of our present ministry, each projected ministry, and to each phase of our services. What would be left of our music and praise if we took away all the man -made components ? What would be left of our preaching if only the message from God were left? How much of what we are doing is built on the illustrations and stories geared to the emotions? Have we put the cart before the horse here, too? Is it man or the Holy Spirit who leads the way we prepare to preach and then deliver our messages? What about the place of the pastor himself? What if we preachers were judged only on the merits of the presence of God in our lives - would there be anything left?

There are a lot of areas we could probe, but as we finish this last month of this last century of this millenium, could it be that we are like the church at Laodicea , not knowing that we are "wretched, miserable, poor, blind,and naked?" With so much man -made, man -contrived ability, could it be that we are getting along busily without much direction or leading from heaven? As we look to a lot of new beginnings, I think we need a time of soul searching. A time of personal examination, a time of self-judgement. How much would be left if God was stripped from all we are doing? I fear that there would be quite a bit left. A lot more than we’d ever like to admit. I believe it was William Law that said the acid test of our devotion was our prayer life. If that be true, and I’d have to say “amen” to Mr. Law’s conclusion, does our prayer life manifest a dependence on God for direction for every area of our life and various aspects of our ministries? We need to stop and make sure our directions are from Heaven and not from instinct and habit and ritual. Are our paths directed by God? Not if we don’t seek Him. Are our steps ordered by the Lord? Not if we are not walking close along side of Him. Are we ministering without God? If we have no intimate communion and dependence upon the Spirit, we certainly are. Everything that’s done in and by the flesh will be burned up—will there be something left?

Steven E. Mays,