The love of God is constant. The power of God is never diminished. So why do entire generations fall away from God?
All things work by spiritual authority. At the human level, all authority is collective. No one person gets to call the shots. The generation is pushed, pulled, and even dragged at times by all of the competing voices to a final destination. If some of those voices cry out to God, there is an infusion of God’s power into the situation, but there are still limitations. Not even Jesus could do many mighty miracles in Nazareth because of the unbelief of the people (Mark 6:5).
There is power in “the generation.” When the disciples could not cast out a demon in Matthew 17, Jesus did not rebuke the disciples for a lack of faith, nor did he say anything toward the father or the son. His response was “O faithless and perverse generation.” There is power in the collective. When it comes to the demonic, Jesus has total power. He proved that by casting out the demon in the Matthew 17 encounter. When it comes to people, the hearts of human beings are able to resist God in a way that His power does not flow.
Win hearts. The collective will of the people is powerful. Sure. There can be subgroups. A small pocket of the people can submit to God and receive of His goodness. But when that happens, there will be continual warfare because darkness hates the light. The authority of those who are hardened toward God will continually seek to crush those who are walking in the light. That doesn’t take away the effectiveness of what God is doing in the hearts of the few, but it sure doesn’t make the quality of their lives what it could be if “the people” turned to God.
Win hearts. We share outcomes. We live with the outcomes of our generation. Each and every voice is a part of the authority that shapes those outcomes. Every decision, every action, every word carries a level of authority that has some impact on the whole. Everyone and everything is significant.
How do we win hearts? There are two common models the world has to offer. One is that might makes right. If a person or a group can put together the force to overwhelm the authority of the rest, he prevails. And when that happens, he does prevail for a while. Eventually, the group will get fed up with the oppression and overthrow the “strongman.” The other model is intrigue. This model actually recognizes the need to gain the cooperation of others, but it does so with lies or manipulations. It appeals to others by playing to their selfishness or to their ego. Neither of these models are God’s way.
Building trust is the centerpiece of winning hearts God’s way. When someone actually recognizes his limited authority, instead of playing the role of the bully, he can honestly appeal to others to join him in a place of humility before God. I call this the one another lifestyle. It is mutual submission. It recognizes the limitations of self and honors the authority of the collective whole. It accepts the need to take the time to wait for unity—to wait for a sense of the group to be collectively guided by God. Of course that can only happen among those who are willing to submit to one another and to listen together for God’s voice.
When the manipulations and the power games are put away, trust can be built through honesty and mutual submission. There are very few places where we see that kind of lifestyle being practiced, but when it is, God blesses it. His life abides in the middle of that kind of connecting—even when it seemingly has only a limited amount of “God stuff” in it.
Too many churches operate in one of the two worldly models I shared about. Then they wonder why there are church splits, why no people are coming to Christ, and why the younger generation is walking away. Win hearts. Walk in the one another lifestyle. Recognize your limited authority and honestly connect with one, then two, then four, then more. Win hearts. Win a generation.