Consider Your Ways
This passage reflects the call to rebuild the Temple of Jerusalem, which lay in ruins during the years of exile in Babylon. The call was given to Zerubbabel, a provincial governor under Cyrus. He is also mentioned in the book of Ezra.
The main relevance for us lies in the phrase: Consider your ways (1:5), while the temple lies in ruins. Haggai points to being preoccupied with our own houses, apathy toward the temple being in ruins, chasing food, drink and clothing, and generally putting our wages in a bag of holes – from where it disappears as fast as it is put in, without being generous.
I hear more and more from prayer leaders that they have the strong sense of God of the COVID-19 crisis being a “reset”, a forced sabbath in which – among a host of other things – church life as we knew it has come to a complete halt. And that they call from God on us is “consider your ways”.
The building in Jerusalem is long gone, but His temple still exists. It is us – the Body of Christ, His people in habited by the Holy Spirit. And it lies in ruins, at least here in the US.
Church leaders and thinkers have long agreed that His temple lies in ruins again:
- Our campuses are pretty, but are emptying out at an alarming rate
- An equally alarming number of churches are closing their doors, and pastors are leaving the ministry
- We are rapidly losing our impact on our culture and society
- The average Christian tithes 2% of his income
- Even when Sunday morning services are full, the prayer meetings – if they exist at all – are empty, and that is, according to revivalists like C.H. Spurgeon, where the spiritual health of the church is measured. We have become prayerless, powerless churches
During this reset, the biggest idols of American society that have crept into church life (obsession with sports, entertainment, financial success and possessions) have been silenced. Not too long ago in church I would hear more about football, baseball and shopping than I would about people’s daily walk with Jesus.
The temple is in ruins. Time to consider our ways.
Time to stand back and examine the priorities we assign to the use of our time, energy and attention at home.
Time to stand back and examine the way we have been doing church and need to rethink it, and return to the centrality of some New Testament elements like devotion to prayer, walking in the Spirit, interdependent and loving community, and uncompromised outreach and mission. To name a few.
So let us pray into the church in America and worldwide a spirit of listening to what the Lord has to say to us about that, courage to obey, and creativity to connect in enduring ways that go beyond campuses and programs.
I’ve felt pressed to pray for the last year or so that God would birth a new desire and vision in the hearts of pastors and leaders to move their congregations away from consumption and toward connection. Join me!
Audio of the above devotional on 3-26-2020 TI Prayer Call