Why The Report of the Death of the Church is Highly Exagerated!
Thoughts which draw me to Jesus, and to the Cross
1 When I first came to you, dear brothers and sisters, I didn’t use lofty words and impressive wisdom to tell you God’s secret plan. 2 For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness—timid and trembling. 4 And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit. 5 I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 (NLT2)
We shall see that in order to enter fully into communion with the life brought to us by Christ we must in some sense—sacramentally, ascetically, mystically—die with Christ and rise with Him from the dead. The whole life of the Kingdom of God consists then in the gradual extension of the spiritual effects of the death and resurrection of Jesus to one soul after another until Christ lives perfectly in all whom He has called to Himself.
This gospel is to us a true example of firm and perfect faith. For this woman endures and overcomes in three great and hard fought battles, and teaches us in a beautiful manner the true way and virtue of faith, namely, that it is a hearty trust in the grace and goodness of God as experienced and revealed through his Word.
Is the church dying? Is it dead? Is it no longer relevant to a society that ignores its brokenness? Will we continue to consolidate and merge ministries, selling this off to try something different over here? Will we believe the post-covid reports abut what the decline in church attendance means?
There is no doubt attendance is less across all Christian denominations, but what does that mean?
I think it is time to listen to St. Paul, and focus on the cross of Jesus, to think through that which is our only hope, to realize we have died, and risen with Him. We have to get back to that message – for the sake of our people. Merton states this clearly – the whole life of the Church nad its believers consists of the death and life of Christ, and our unity with it. Luther adds the grace of God experienced and revealed through His word which proclaims Christ crucified.
We can’t afford to be in a defensive position any longer! In fact we should have never gone down that road to begin with, relying on our own intellect and ability to strategize the next moves for the church..
Paul, one of the greatest intellects in the history of the church, says he abandoned the things which communicated loftier ideals with larger words.
Just Christ. Just the cross.
This is where we die, and live…
This is the message that sparks revivals and reformations. That Jesus dwells with His people, His church. This is what is seeing churches in other places in the world grow so fast they are sending missionaries here.
God at work, in the lives of people, redeemed and reconciled by the body and blood of Christ shed on the cross, and found on the altar.
Let’s celebrate that love, that passion, that presence… and depend on Him. As we do, we will find the rumors of the death of the church to be greatly exagerated, and in fact, lies from hell.
Merton, Thomas. 1976. The New Man. London; New York: Burns & Oates.
Luther, Martin, and John Sander. 1915. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern.
VIP Concert Passes, Surgical Nurses and Divine Appointments..
Discussion thought of the day…
Be wise in the way you act toward those who are not believers, making good use of every opportunity you have. 6 Your speech should always be pleasant and interesting, and you should know how to give the right answer to everyone. Colossians 4:5-6 (TEV)
You always come out beaten. Resolve, each time, to work for the salvation of a particular soul, or his sanctification, or his vocation to the apostolate. If you do so, I’ll be sure of your victory. (1)
I usually don’t write blogs about my life…just about the lessons I learn
So it was a very busy last few days…..
Friday night was a incredible concert and meet and greet with the “piano guys” (youtube them if you never have) . A anniversary present for Kay, to see the musicians that have gotten her playing violin again.. (she needs to pick up guitar again – but violin is very much a blessing to our praise team)
Sunday was an awesome tieme at church – attendance above average – and I think the sermon and Bible Study were above average as well….(music is also awesome…in that it beings us so aware of god’s presence! (you can read it – it should be a blog
Then a bbq with friends so old, they knew me when I was still naive enough to think I could change the world, because of my great knowledge of theology… ( I still hope to set the change some of the world… because I know of God’s love and work..)
Then this morning, up way to early… off to the hospital to have a procedure.. (they didn’t call it surgery… for some reason) – to cut me open, and replace my implanted guidant defibrillator. A great staff there, they ever laughed at the jokes and stories I told… before they gave me the happy juice…
So how does this all roll into a devotional thought….
It’s all about God’s appointments… the people he brings us into contact, the lives we affect without knowing it..
At the concert, it was the lady sitting at the table next to me, a stay at home mom (dad sitting opposite a teacher from the desert) . Another piano guys massive fan, I gave her the signed VIP guest card that the piano guys signed at our special meet and greet. We had talked about God and the challenges of kids with special needs before the concert. But it was the tag that she will probably remember – and the strange guy wearing a priest collar who gave it to her. The joy on her face was incredible… and I pray the seeds were planted deeply…
The second one that comes to mind is my RN and the aide that were assigned to me. We had a lot of fun… and talked about ministry and nursing ( lots of commonality there) and the a great last moment conversation occurred – as we sat outside the chapel waiting for Kay to pull the car around. We had a lot of fun… if surgery…. err a procedure… was to be considered fun. I’ve never had people thank me for my time with them in the hospital… but both did.
All through the weekend were such times. Times to “be human” (if ministers are allowed to be) times to enjoy life, but also be aware of God’s presence. of seeing people respond to mentions of God, not from a point of fear or dismissing Him, but a point of curiosity. Times which bring me great joy…
And as I sat at home… I wonder how many of those times I miss… because I am deep in thought, or somewhat anxious, or distracted by the trauma I am watching people experience, and so I don’t treat people all the time the way Josemaria Escrova encourages above.
What if every time we interacted with people, we realized that they were drawn closer to Christ, because the Holy Spirit was at work. Either Christ delivering them from sin and the anxiety of death…or helping them realize the Spirit’s work sanctifying them and setting them apart for His work, or encouraging tthat work – for all have the vocation of God’s priests (as in St. Peter’s priesthood of all believers, not priest/pastor) . no matter whether their “other vocation” is that of priest, or pastor, or father or mom, or secretary, or pro athlete, or president… each of the those vocations is also that of a priest of God…..
I encourage you, as often as you can, and 10 times more, remember that you walk with God – and His desire is to call all to Him… for that is why Christ died on the cross.
Have a blessed day… and thanks for the prayers!
Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 563-565). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
- Serving God where ever He calls you to service (justifiedandsinner.com)
- We must bear our cross….an powerful observation…. (justifiedandsinner.com)