Our son Matt was a runner in high school. One of the most remarkable things about runners is how they can pace themselves. Matt has a friend Nate who, when he ran in high school, always ran out front thereby setting the pace for the rest of the runners.
In a Francis Chan sermon, he prays and asks on behalf of his church “Father, let us set the pace” when it comes to being Jesus to the widows, orphans, people living in third world countries, the lost, etc. I love that prayer.
What has happened to the church in America that we allow our society set the pace for the church? It used to be that our society looked to the church for its values. Now our church takes its cues from the world. Instead of looking unto Jesus, we look unto the world. The church values what the world values. And the world loves us for it. We are no longer a threat to the ways of the world. At least if we recognize we have a problem and admit it, we have a chance to repent and change and no longer let the world dictate how the church should be. And while it’s unlikely that our little church here in Short Gap, WV will stop the world from setting the pace for the American church, we can at least grab the reigns and set the pace for the glory of Jesus in our own little corner of the world. And if, by a mighty movement of the Holy Spirit, a church in every community would focus on Jesus and set the pace, it would indeed change the world, even if the world doesn’t want to be changed. (And even if some in the church don’t want the church to be changed.)
“If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world—therefore the world hates you.” ~ John 15:18-19