I am reading the biography of John Wycliffe. While Martin Luther is described as the heart of church reformation, John Wycliffe was its herald. John declared truth and prepared the universal church for change. John Wycliffe saw the need for change in church behavior and he drew attention to the failings of the church. In particular, he called out (his biography uses the word, “demanded”) the church to stop being a place of religion and move into a more authentic faith embracing rich and poor alike.
I like John Wycliffe. Reading his biography, I think, “His demands must have angered many.” Then, it dawned on me, any servant of God who is willing to point out the faults in the faith community and seeks to promote change within Christ’s body is never very popular. Well, until they die.
The realization of the unpopularity of God’s change agents caused me to look at some of the greatest heralds in the early church. Christ’s disciples, the Apostle Paul – even Jesus Christ Himself stirred anger in the hearts of those who didn’t want change. They wanted to be commended for the work they were doing. They certainly did not want to be criticized or challenged to change.
At the same time as reading Wycliffe’s biography, I am re-reading the book of 1 Corinthians. I refamiliarized myself with the many parts of Christ’s body and the diversity of gifts (1 Corinthians 12). The writer of The Message states, “Only as you accept your part of that body does your part mean anything.” Until or unless I am willing to embrace the role God gave me in His kingdom, I cannot be effective in my work for Him. As with Wycliffe and other great leaders of the faith, accepting one’s call often means being rejected by others.
“If God is for us, who can ever be against us?” Romans 8:31
The Holy Spirit prompted me to wonder how many of us (His children) are living our lives in denial of the gifts that He gave us? Are we answering His call? Are we following His direction? Or are we so concerned about what other people think that we are unwilling to embrace what God needs from us?
It’s tough. I must admit to you, fulfilling one’s destiny in Christ isn’t an easy road. Whether you are a nursery worker or TV evangelist, there is an amount of sacrifice in every part of Christ’s body. I’m not suggesting we withdraw from people or be obnoxious in trying to follow God’s lead. Been there; done that. I am suggesting that we follow His lead regardless of where it takes us and regardless of who we must leave behind in order to do so.
Leading change isn’t fun. Believe me – it isn’t fun. John Wycliffe faced many things, including death threats, to be the instrument God created him to be for Christ’s church. Leading change is not fun, but accepting responsibility for the failure to point to change won’t be fun when I stand before Jesus. Between the two discomforts, I choose to please Jesus.
Church, arise. If we need motivation, click on the link below.