One of the most striking evidences of sinful human nature lies in the universal propensity for downward drift. In other words, it takes thought, resolve, energy and effort to bring about reform.
People do not drift toward holiness. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith.
Reformation is something I've been thinking on a lot recently. As we read from Nehemiah, there were two thoughts going through my head: 1) I need to obey God's Word & 2) Our church needs to obey God's Word. In my own life I know that I will (and do) move in the wrong direction when I'm not purposefully striving for holiness and pursuing God. We sinful men & women are never treading water spiritually. We're either swimming upstream or we're being pushed downstream. So fight for it! Take the kingdom of heaven by force (Matt. 11:12)!
All this is true for the church, too. A church that is not purposeful in watching over its doctrine, holiness and practices will inevitably drift, and I'm afraid that many Southern Baptist churches have drifted. This is a drift that will take more than a 'revival' service to undo. This is a drift that demands nothing short of a full-fledged reformation.
I long for an Ezra/Nehemiah-like, God-sent, Spirit-led reformation! We need our membership rolls reformed. We need our preaching reformed. We need our worship reformed. We need our local church leadership reformed. We need our youth ministries reformed. We need our lack of prayer, lack of passion, lack of evangelism, lack of accountability reformed!
When I look at the biblical standards and then look at the average church, I see an enormous gap between the two. My generation has inherited a mess, which is why many of us are opting to just start new churches. Clean slate; no mess. I see the benefits. But before I walk away from the established church, I want to fight for reformation.
I'm encouraged to fight for at least two reasons. First, God is patient. He is looooongsuffering. Hallelujah! He knows that we're prone to wander, and He is faithful to bring us back. Second, reformation is what God does. The Christian life is reformation. Because sin is constantly attacking, a Spirit-led church is constantly reforming. And get this... if God gives us the grace to see our need, and if God gives us the grace to care about it, then why wouldn't God give us the grace to make it happen?
Go ye therefore and start a reformation!