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Welcome to ZealousHomes! I’m Wayne Sullivan! Before we start talking about Christian zeal, I’d like to welcome you to our little home online! This is our first post! So, we would like to start off by asking for your help. If you gain value from our content. We would love for you to consider subscribing to our ZealousHomes Newsletter? We would love to connect and build a relationship online with you.
Have you seen it?
Can you attest to it?
You may be a part of it?
What is it?
It is a fake and a fraud. It is something that isn’t the real thing. Tragically, it is something that doesn’t seem to trouble many of us, but it should. It displays our modern carelessness and indifference. What is it?
It is a culture and a Christianity culture that lacks true Christian zeal!
Over the next couple of posts, we are going to diagnose and address the problem. Then, we hope to lay out what we mean by Christian zeal and offer a way forward to a more stunning zeal in your life and home. Are you ready?
Let’s get our zealous on!
Life Without Zeal
You might be thinking, “Wayne, what is so important about zeal?”
Allow me to turn that question around and say, “Is anything meaningful without zeal?”
What is life without a zeal for living? Is marriage possible without zeal for your spouse? Can we love someone without a zeal for the one love? What is a career without a passionate zeal for the job you perform? Is religion possible without a zealous pursuit of your beliefs?
Without zeal, there is only drudgery, dullness, lethargy, and suspicion. Having a lack of zeal is simply a “going through the motions to get by” kind of lifestyle. Who wants to live like that? I don’t know about you, but I sure don’t.
When zeal is missing, everything we do becomes a “have to” rather than a “get to.” The lack of zeal produces drudgery rather than joy. It dulls our senses to the world around us, even the parts we should be enjoying. When you take zeal away, apathy and lethargy seep into the very fabric of our lives. Finally, suspicion creeps in upon us in two harsh ways.
First, and most dangerous, we begin to suspect our own motives and doubt our will to live. We begin to carry a weight of guilt that is unbearable. We start to think of ourselves as a fake or a fraud. The worst part is we’d be right. Without zeal we are a mere shell of ourselves.
The second way it creeps in upon us is by causing our lives to become suspicious. What I mean is that the world around us notices our own doubt and guilt. They notice our lack of joy and our dullness of life. For Christians, this is particularly damaging because we are called to be the light in a dark world. Without zeal we are merely candles with wet wicks; being no different than the rest of the world.
Most of us would never want any of this for ourselves or for our loved ones. Yet we find it a trap that is so easy for us to fall into it time and time again. I know that has been true for me at different points in life. I’m sure you could say the same. It is part of being human in a fallen world.
So, over the next few minutes, I’d like to share a bit of my story with you. I want you to know how and when I began to notice the importance of true Christian Zeal. I will also share with you when I noticed it waning in our world and how it has affected me.
Misplaced Christian Zeal
My first real exposure to Christianity was around the age of ten. I was attending a local church’s Vacation Bible School event when I was scared out of my skin. The preacher was talking about Satan and Hell. He was describing how Satan wanted me to spend an eternity with him in the fires of eternal torment. He was very zealous about how horrible Hell would be.
Next thing I knew, he gave us a formula on how to avoid that hellish torment. He told me some magical words to say to a God I didn’t know. Then, if I said the words just right, repeating after him of course, then I’d be saved from the pits of Hell. Needless to say, I quickly repeated those lines very zealously. A couple of weeks later I was dunked in a pool they called “the Baptismal Pool.” Easy peasy right! Wrong.
Over the next few years, I started having nightmares. These bad dreams had me running from snakes and a fiery devil, but I could never escape them. Despite the preacher assuring me I had fire insurance that would protect me against Hell. I couldn’t seem to escape the feeling that something wasn’t right. Still, I banked my eternal destination on his word, after all he was the preacher. Whenever I doubted that the magical prayer had worked, I would say it again and keep going. The problem: nothing inside me changed. The fear was still there. I still lived for myself. I continued to walk in a life weighed down by sin.
My College Years
Fast-forward eleven years, I was a new student at N. C. State University. My new environment would come to open my eyes to some new realities. I was studying to become a great research scientist. I wanted to discover ways to make our world a better place. I studied in a field where most of my professors were anti-Christian. Science isn’t exactly about science anymore. The lessons I was learning and the party scene is was discovering was anything but Christian. That’s when everything I knew came crashing down.
The nightmares I was having became more frequent. I had a nagging feeling I wasn’t forgiven and that I was in trouble of eternal torment. So, I did the rational thing. I decided to go to a small gathering of Christian students on campus. I was hoping to appease God and find mercy through my good actions.
Campus Crusade for Christ was hosting a weekly meeting they called, “Prime Time.” It was a small gathering of about 60-70 Christian students. This was on a campus of almost 35,000 students. I had no idea what I’d find there.
The Encounters That Changed My Journey
Encountering Allan and Cary
I met a guy that night at Prime Time named, Allan. He asked me for my contact information and offered to grab lunch with me one day soon. A couple of days later, I had a knock on my dorm room door. It was Allan and a guy named Cary. I invited them in and we began to talk.
During their visit, they shared a pamphlet with me called, “The Four Spiritual Laws.” They asked me if I knew Christ and experienced His salvation. I recounted to them that I was baptized and that I believed in God. They challenged me a little, but then left it alone. As they were leaving, they invited me to attend the Bible Study they were leading in my dormitory. I told them I’d consider it and they left.
Afterwards, I felt uneasy about what we had discusssed. It didn’t take much time before I decided to start going to their Bible study. I knew nothing about the Bible, so I thought I could learn more there. What I discovered was that C.A.P.S. (Note: C.A.P.S stood for Cary and Allan’s Power Study) was the right place for me to start!
It was an all guys Bible study, and Cary and Allan seemed to know their stuff. All the guys in that group welcomed me and befriended me. I didn’t know anything about the Bible, yet they didn’t seem to care. They were so passionate about the Jesus in the Bible, a Jesus I didn’t know. A few weeks later, Crusade was hosting a Fall Retreat event at a camp in Fayetteville, NC called, “Camp Dixie.”
Encountering Dan Hayes.
The guest speaker was a preacher named, “Dan Hayes.” He was teaching everyone about his latest book, “Fireseeds of Spiritual Awakening.” Unlike the preacher from my childhood, he was vastly different. He talked about the glory of God revealed in Jesus Christ. He spoke about God’s zealous love for humanity. He lifted Christ up as the only way to overcome sin, death, and Hell. Everything was about Jesus’ sacrificial victory on our behalf.
On the first night, as the second session was ending, Dan gave an invitation unlike any I’d experienced. Rather than trying to emotionalize us into buying fire insurance, he gave us a challenge. Dan told us to find a quiet place around the camp and spend some time talking to God that evening. He wanted us to read the Bible and ask God to help us examine our relationship with Christ. He trusted the Spirit of God to do His work in us!
That night, being one who loves the water, I found a canoe and paddled out to a solitary place on the lake. On those moonlit waters, for the first time in my life, I interacted with the God of Heaven. It was in that canoe that I felt the weight of my sinful guilt lifting from my shoulders. God recreated and restored my soul that night. I became a child of God and a joint heir with Christ!
Witnessing a Spiritual Awakening full of Christian Zeal
Awakened to Transformational Power
The next year was a wild ride. I saw so many changes in my life. The nightmarish dreams of Hell ended completely. I had developed a new hunger and thirst for God’s word. My lifestyle was changing. One of my worst vices, cussing like sailor, ended. Many of my fears were overcome. I had new friends that actually cared about me and held me accountable for my walk with Christ. It was amazing!
Awakened to Revival
Surprisingly, the Lord gave me, a new believer, the honor of serving in leadership with Crusade. I served on a team which they called “the Servant Team.” My responsibility was to co-lead a team that publicized our events around campus. God blessed our prayerful work and over the next year Campus Crusade grew by leaps and bounds. God grew our little movement from 60-70 to approximately 2000 student believers. God relocated us from a basement classroom to Reynold’s Coliseum. Reynold’s was the home of the Wolfpack men’s basketball team. God was truly on the move doing a remarkable work in our midst.
Awakened to Be a Witness
Life was good. I was full of zeal! Everyday I was looking for opportunities to drop “J-bombs” everywhere I could. (Note: J-bombs were our way of saying, “sharing Jesus with others”). Everyone who knew me saw a drastic change in my life. It was all by His grace, not of my own merit. Unfortunately, some who knew me started referring to me as a, “Jesus Freak.” While I wore that label as a badge of honor. It also grieved me that they didn’t know Jesus Christ in a way that made them equally zealous for Him.
Awakened to Serve the Church
Those days in Campus Crusade for Christ were amazing. Looking back, it was like living in a miniature spiritual awakening. It was a true revival of Christianity in our little microcosm of the world. In those days, we accomplished a lot of great ministry work on campus. It was unlike anything I have ever experienced. It was during this time that I came to recognize true Christian zeal. It permeated everything we endeavored to do. Toward the end of my college days, God used that zeal to call me, ever so clearly, to serve Him in pastoral ministry. At first it was scary and I resisted, but eventually the biologist obeyed and became a pastor.
When I Started to Notice the Lack of Christian Zeal Increasing
After my days ended at N.C. State, I couldn’t afford to go straight into the Master’s of Divinity program at the Seminary. So, I began to work full-time as a Chemist at a local pharmaceutical company. During the next four and a half years, I worked and saved every penny I could. When time allowed, I helped my church work with their youth and college ministries. At this point in life, I began to notice a major problem. Something was missing.
Now, the church I was serving in was a large and growing suburban church. There were a lot ministry activities happening within the church. Yet, the problem that I began noticing already had a name in church circles. It was called the “20/80 Rule.” What it means is that 20 percent of the people do 80 percent of the work and 80 percent only do 20 percent of the work.
In the past twenty years, I have attended and graduated from Southeastern Seminary. I have ministered in eight different churches, several were smaller rural churches. I have also gotten to know scores of other churches through associational ministry. In the last fifteen years, I have seen that “20/80 Rule” morph into what could be called, the “10/90 Rule” in many of our churches.
Nationally Verified Observations
Over the same period, we have learned that many churches in our nation are plateauing or dying. Study after study report that nearly 80% of the churches in North America are plateaued or in decline. Sadly, most are in a state of decline.
Mark Clifton has recently asked us to consider two important questions. Mark is the author of a great little book titled, “Reclaiming Glory.” Rhetorically speaking, he says,
The ultimate question we must face is this: is there anything about a dying church that brings glory to God? What is there about a dying church that proclaims that God is great and the Gospel is powerful? 1
The obvious rhetorical answer is no, and nothing. God doesn’t get any glory out of a powerless church and a powerless church is unable to glorify God.
The Heart of the Problem
There are many reasons why this decline is taking place. We can point fingers in a lot of directions. Personally, I believe the biggest reason for the decline is our growing lack of Christian zeal. Our lack of zeal is surely seen by the culture at large which most assuredly has effected the way they respond to us. But here is the thing that has me the most troubled, but also the most optimistic.
Over the years, I have noticed that I often allow the lack of zeal in others to affect the zeal in my own heart. Remember I earlier said, that no one wants to, but it is so easy to fall into this trap. That is what has troubled me. But it is also what gives me great hope. I have fallen into the trap more times than I can remember. If God can awaken me from my stupor and refill my soul with Christian zeal through His Holy Spirit (and oh boy did He ever). If God can do that, and He can, then there is hope for all my brothers and sisters in Christ, present and future!
Following God’s prompting, I started ZealousHomes for this very reason. I long to see the excitement and wonder of Christ overtake the Church and our modern day culture. I am not gifted enough to make that happen on my own, but ZealousHomes is my prayerful appeal for Christian Zeal. It’s a prayer for God to unite believers through mutual edification and encouragement. ZealousHomes is a rallying cry to bring us back to a strong community of unifying grace. We desire a Christian community that can glorify Christ in our culture. It’s a prayer that I believe God will answer in due time.
I want to make it clear that ZealousHomes is on a journey to see many Christians experience God’s best for them. We hope to build a nation of zealous Christ-followers that knows no boundaries. A nation that zealously pursues becoming passionate disciples who make disciples. We hope to see God build zealous Christian homes that glory in Christ!
We are all on an extraordinary life journey, and need a little encouragement and motivation along the way! So, how about allowing us the honor and opportunity to help you ignite a stunning zeal for your sensational journey! Let’s build a Zealous Nation together!
God’s word tells us that He has done the work of providing salvation to all who will trust in Jesus Christ by faith. He has redeemed us and purchased us by His own blood so that we can be His special possession. So that we can be a people, a nation who are zealous for good works that will bring God great glory! Our foundation is strongly centered on the teaching about Christ and His Church in Titus 2:13-14.
13 …our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.2
Help Us Start A Movement
Join our Zealous Nation! Let’s begin to offer up a collective prayerful appeal for Christian zeal to begin to permeate our lives, our families, and our churches.
Finally, It is our hope that this article has helped to give you a renewed zeal. So, if our content has added value to your life, please help us out by subscribing to our Newsletter. Also, please share this article with your friends. It doesn’t cost you anything and it is a tremendous help to us as we seek to grow and spread God’s Word far and wide.
In our next post, PART 2 of this series, we are going to unpack what we mean by Christian zeal, and why it is an absolute game changer. If you want to begin igniting a stunning zeal for your sensational journey, then be sure to check out our future posts. Until next time, live zealously!