The Church will not die in America.
Posted by justifiedandsinner
Devotional Thought for the Day”
7 Please hurry, LORD, and answer my prayer. I feel hopeless. Don’t turn away and leave me here to die. 8 Each morning let me learn more about your love because I trust you. I come to you in prayer, asking for your guidance. Psalm 143:7-8 (CEV)
To bring people closer to God, competency and clarity are important, but they are not enough. Of themselves they do not touch hearts deeply. Personal sanctity and goodness do. It is the saints who light fires. There is a direct correlation between the beauty of holiness and the fruitfulness of our work and interpersonal relationships.
When we believe God is something other than a lover, it is inevitable that we will sin.
As I look at some of my more competent friends in ministry, to those who are skilled communicators, who sermons hit all the right points, I grow concerned for them, and for the church.
Even before COVID hit, they were scrambling. There was concern first about us being in the post -modern age, and how do ou communicate to millennials. (Of course, that originated in not being able to communicate to GenXer’s, or trying all sorts of things to communicate to Baby-boomers (see the Seeker movement)
I even heard one such friend, a man in ministry for nearly 40 years, write “I just don’t know how to do this!” This written for all to see in a on-line training session with one of the latest book writing gurus, who found a theory on how to survive in these times.
If these experts don’t have the answers, if they are getting to the point where ministry must be completely re-thought… what hope does the church have in America?
As I read the despair in the voice of the Psalmist this morning, I found great hope, and a model for revival.
It is to do what I’ve done many times in ministry, cry out in despair, and realize my hope in ministry is not found in what I do. I am competent, but that is often set aside because of the tyranny of the moment. I am not always clear… (I’ve had people lovingly tell me so, and their body language in the church helps keep me focused )
Our hope must be in learning, in experiencing the love of God.
That is what is needed for the church to revive in the midst of this time, a dedication ot spend more time getting to experience the love of God than simply reading about it. More time spent rejoicing His promises delivered through word and sacrament than trying to find the latest thoughts on making the church relevant, or faithful to our traditions.
We NEED Jesus in our lives, we need to know God is love, we desperately need to experience that love, poured out through His word, and with the sacraments He ordained to deliver us what we need to revive…
We need to let Him transform us, to covert us, and we need to pour out to Him our frustration, our despair, our brokenness, assured of His love and desire to heal us.
This is the hope for the church… to dwell in Christ…anything else is simply a manmade patch on a sinking ship.. and will leave us in even greater despair.
And that is true whether our church is 50 people or 5000…..it was true in first century Ephesus, or 21st century Los Angeles, or Lawrence, Massachusetts…
Cry out to Him, and then spend time experiencing the love of God.
Thomas Dubay, Deep Conversion/Deep Prayer (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2006), 97.
Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 166.