From the Jailer's cell... an article worth reading - intended to provoke thought and discussion.
I've been struggling much with church lately, that is, the local body and its programs, requirements, and presumptions. To complicate things, I like our home church's sequential exponential preaching and nourishing lectures. I totally like that it strives to exalt Christ... but have a problem with attending. (I know, right? *scratches head*)
I also know that the superficiality that I wrestle with is due, in large part, to my own dang fault. The rest I have yet to figure out. I think my drawing would look different, though. But I'm not done thinking yet. So, with all that garbage out of the way...
I reflect on the Jailer's thoughts and his drawing:Does the healthy church nourish the public culture by exalting Christ in word and deed, making and growing disciples? What if the dominant culture will not be nourished? Is the public culture growing more dominant because the church reflects much of its values, or does the church reflect so much of the dominating culture's values because said culture refuses to be nourished? Is the church to nourish the social culture or its own body? A starving church is not necessarily the cause of a flourishing counter culture. A starving church may just lack bread - bread that the culture won't eat. A church that is full of bread and quite fat may still not be able to feed or even force-feed the culture (or color its dying leaves) if culture's society will not have it - or rather, if God has not planned it. Yet, it's getting quite hard to ignore that our (yes, our) church reflects the dominant culture ad nauseam (and I'm not even talking about the big moral issues).
Maybe my drawing would show two trees: One sick and dying tree (social culture) with rotting roots (values), mere timber fit only for burning yet thinking and priding itself to be luscious and looming. The other tree would be a stately tree attached to the root of all Life, thinking itself puny, shrinking and dying because it has forgotten what it is and whose it is and from whence all its help and nourishment comes. Maybe my problem is that we make too much of our brick and mortar churches with the faithful who warm the pews and the eager who paint the leaves, while we make much too little of Christ who is its sustaining head and heart and king.
I also see the church as a sheep fold with a door - a safe haven within a dangerous world - with ample bread and faith to nourish itself as well as those who brave the thorny brambles in order to rescue His still lost sheep. And, although it is a fold with a door, it's not stagnant but moving; not a set of rules on a stick but mercy flowing - moved by Him and for Him; not a set of programs but Christ; not shrinking but growing; not self-absorbed but absorbed by grace; not afraid of death, dying, or dead but alive and victorious for ever.
Nothing can altogether overthrow and destroy [the church]. Its members may be persecuted, oppressed, imprisoned, beaten, beheaded, burned; but the true church is never altogether extinguished; it rises again from its afflictions; it lives on through fire and water. When crushed in one land it springs up in another. The Pharaohs, the Herods, the Neros, have labored in vain to put down this church; they slay their thousands, and then pass away and go to their own place. The true Church outlives them all, and sees them buried each in his turn. ~ J.C. Ryle
Oh, and thank you...
... thank you for your prayers. You know who you are!
Thoughts and discussions are welcome here too, but remember that our dear Jailer started it. :-)