One of the questions a pastor often wonders, but seldom asks is, "Why don't we see more response or change in our people?" If you are a pastor you know what I mean. If you aren't, try to understand. Suppose you were an engine mechanic and the engine you rebuilt engine never ran, or suppose you were a baker whose bread would never rise, what would you think? You put too much into it not to care about the outcome. Pastors do the same thing. The fiery prophet Joel gives us a window into the mind of God. Here is what it will take for real change to occur. It will take:
1. A total return to the Lord, Joel 2:12
"Return to Me with all your heart" v. 12
We must turn to God with all our hearts. Many believers do not even think they need any change of direction. But the Lord calls us to complete, heartfelt repentance. This kind of response will have visible signs connected to it. It will include "weeping and mourning".It is not total if your are not broken and altered.
2. Believers who stop playing Christian, v. 13
"rend your heart and not your garment" v. 13
We can do all the actions of a Christian and still not be repentant. We can even look like we are serious with God and not be. It is the heart that must be broken.
3. Believers who are not complacent with his grace, v. 14
"Who knows if He will turn and relent". v . 14
We must look diligently to see if we take God's grace for granted. Remember He does not have to offer grace. When we seek God's grace to get through a difficult trial or for His undeserved forgiveness, let us not demand grace.
4. It will take corporate brokeness, v. 15ff
"Blow the trumpet...call a sacred assembly...gather the people...sanctify the congregation...assemble the elders...gather the children and nursing babes...let the priests who minister to the Lord weep".
God is saying, if it is not done as a group, then it is not getting done. Too many Believers think "I can repent alone". You can't. God's power and blessing is reserved for churches that corporately are broken before Him. Do not misunderstand, it is important that you are humble and broken before God as an individual. That is where it all begins. But it cannot stop there. The fire of brokeness must spread to the whole group. It is especially painful to see so many Believers have so little regard or understanding for the corporate Body. That good old American independance has spoiled the Church. Too many Believers think they are "free agents" and miss the blessing of God. Let us take Paul's admonitions to heart. "Stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man..." Phil. 1:27b