There is something missing in the church today.
When I read my Bible and the biographies of good Christians of history, I notice that the modern church is missing something. The First Testament prophets and Second Testament disciples had character traits that we moderns seem to be lacking, particularly in the west. Given, there are exceptions but for the most part – something is missing. And when something is missing, the void is inevitably filled by something else.
I have been pondering the question, “what is missing?” for a couple years. It goes without saying that the church in the West is lacking in several areas. I am lacking in several areas. But, I keep landing on the same thing – the same answer to the question of what is missing.
G.R.I.T. is missing from the church both corporately and in the lives of individual Christ-followers. Of course, if you know me very well you are asking one of my favorite questions, “what do you mean by that?”
GRIT is an acronym for Guts, Resilience, Integrity and Tenacity. While the secular world has its own vision of GRIT, I think True GRIT is rooted in who we are called to be as Christians. I decided to provide my own simple definitions to help me remember what GRIT means and provide a few characters in the Bible who demonstrate some of those traits.
Courage in the face of adversity, moral fortitude and fearlessness (David, Noah, Moses, Gideon, Esther, Stephen, Paul)
Ability to bounce back from failure, loss and/or setbacks. (David, Joseph, Mary Magdalene, Peter)
Consistent and uncompromising commitment to moral convictions and principles in private and public life – inner consistency. (Enoch, Joshua, Esther, Ruth, Nehemiah, Paul)
Perseverance over time, determination – will-power. Never giving in. (Noah, Nehemiah, Elijah, David, Job, Daniel, Paul)
Throughout Christian history, we see people who demonstrated GRIT. Martin Luther, John Knox, William Wilberforce, Mother Theresa, Jackie Robinson, Joni Erickson-Tada, Corrie ten Boom, Rosa Parks, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Frederick Douglass and Elisabeth Elliot are just a handful of names that come to mind when I think about good old-fashioned Christian GRIT.
We saw the Clapham Sect in England and the Abolitionists in the States work to end slavery. The White Rose Resistance defied Hitler and the Nazis. In Roman times, Christians rescued unwanted Roman female infants thrown into dumps because girls were seen as worthless. During the Plague, Christians ran to the bedsides of the sick and dying. GRIT is a part of our Christian heritage!
Today, I see fear masquerading as courage and the pride-filled cowardice of online virtue-signaling. The pulse of popularity polls have overtaken the powerful pulse of Christ’s call to His church. The winds of culture are driving the church rather than the winds of God’s spirit. The result of the lack of Christian GRIT over the last 100 years has devastated our witness and contributed to the decay of culture.
The Great Recovery
Every great awakening and revival begins with a series of cultural convulsions. The Church is shaken out of its slumber by some great series of tribulations. Then a recovery begins. It begins with recovering God’s truth and renewing a commitment to follow Christ. This means we will come in direct conflict with the world and culture. We come to understand the sharp words of Christ when he says, “The world will hate you, because it hated me first.” To be Christian is be to a counter-cultural force of light and truth in the midst of darkness and lies.
I’m calling this the “Great Recovery”. I don’t know where or with whom this idea originated. However, the more I read my Bible, pray, talk with other committed Christians and attempt to “understand the times” (like the men of Issachar), I am convinced we must embark on a “Great Recovery”. While, I’ll discuss more in the future, let us begin with GRIT.
Whatever the committed Christ-follower who has counted the cost of discipleship and taken up his/her cross to follow Him may be, they must have GRIT. The days of microwave entertainment-based emotionally-driven cultural Christianity are over. Pastor Douglas Wilson said, “The church has gone from feeding the sheep to entertaining the goats.” Those words sting because they are true in a general sense. Not all churches are guilty but a good many are. We must repent of that and move on to walk with obedience and courage.
Every one of us will pay a price in the face of the zeitgeist (the spirit of the age). We need to pray and encourage each other in the faith and ask God for spirit-filled GRIT as we create Christian friction with a dark culture that hates the light.
We need to recover GRIT.
“Choose this day whom you will serve…” Christ or the zeitgeist.
There is no middle-ground. Christ does not allow for it. He spits from His mouth the lukewarm water of the Church in Laodicea. He separates the sheep from the goats and the wheat from the tares.
To truly proclaim, “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!” will require Godly GRIT rooted in Christ’s power undergirded by Biblical truth.
Before I read the article, I pondered over the acrostic and guessed my own definition of GRIT = Guarding Righteousness, Integrity and Truth. Guarding appears static, however, the role comes with the propensity to move quickly into on-the-site action to protect. Then the three other character traits seem to become involved “Guts, Resilience, and Tenacity.” Integrity is the common point – but is this not the character trait that elevates the concern, develops this concern into conviction and ultimately fosters action at some level. This action must be accompanied with guts, resilience and tenacity if it is to be effective. I am reminded of 2 Peter 1:3-10.
Bob, thanks for reflecting and responding. I’ll have to ponder your acrostic as well. When you mention ‘guarding’, an image of the “the Full Armor of God” in Ephesians 6 and the exhortation in Proverbs 4:23 tells us to guard our hearts. It also conjures up the vision of wisdom personified as a woman to love, “love her, and she will guard you.”
Perhaps integrity is the fulcrum over which the other elements of the acrostic move because integrity is rooted in truth. If all truth is God’s truth, then it seems that truth ought to be completely assimilated into our lives to the fullest measure rendering a fully integrated life. This points beyond itself to an integrated Kingdom vision where the identity of the believer is rooted in the identity of Christ and is brought to its fullest light as that life is lived (privately and publicly).
That all said, I would have to agree that a biblical vision of integrity will compel one to take action. Another image enters my mind of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples. When he finishes washing their feet, Jesus makes a simple yet extraordinary remark, “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” Jesus, who embodies truth and a perfect picture of integrity puts the challenge of transforming knowing into doing squarely before his followers.
It’s thought-provoking and worshipful to consider these things. Thank you 🙂
Your articles always seem to have great timing, Lance. Recently, my family and I have been watching some of the old Western movies on the TV channel, GRIT – “Television with backbone” as they say. Of course, this is Hollywood’s portrayal of grit, usually displayed in the form of physical toughness more than anything.
Christ is definitely our ultimate example of true Christian GRIT. I see humanity often displaying the R and T, but not the G and I. Particularly, integrity. As I was reading this, I thought of prayer, and you mentioned it as well. Prayer, in my opinion, is what we need to not only jump start, but keep a “Great Recovery” going. I think what is lacking in the church today is Christians not praying together as often as we should. We’re quick to talk things out, but how often do we stop what we’re doing to pray out loud with another believer? I am guilty of saying “I’ll be praying for this or that” to someone, and maybe I have good intentions of doing just that, but I am convinced that I/we would experience the power of God’s spirit move more in us and in the situation if we called on His name in prayer.
Christy, Your points are very well taken. I agree. Prayer, particularly intercessory prayer is the undergirding of any effective ministry, movement or Christian undertaking (including business, family, community, etc). I need to pray more. I need to intercede more. When I am regularly involved with daily prayer and our church’s intercessory prayer group that meets once a week, I see God answering and things changing. Faithful prayer ignites, undergirds, sustains and infuses the Church. I’m convinced that we can’t experience the full orbed presence, power and majesty of God without humbling ourselves in prayer. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!