A Painful but Precious Love
I awakened early this morning in hopes that I would feel moved to write and had almost exhausted my personal time when I opened an online devotional time by Joseph Prince (www.josephprince.org). My heart seemed also to open with compassion and tender awareness of the truths being expressed from I Samuel 18:3
Bottom line, Pastor Prince was addressing the story of Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, grandson of Saul, lame in his feet after he was dropped as his relatives fled from David once both Saul and Jonathan had been killed in battle.
The point he makes, had the people really understood David’s heart, there would have been no reason for fear, given the covenant relationship made by David with Jonathan. This young boy became a victim of a fearful population, suffering for no reason due to the fallout of mistrust and confusion among the masses, after Saul’s great leadership malpractice.
My thoughts then swung to recent events attended with weary and often damaged believers, their leaders groping as well, not to mention those whom they are trying to reach, who have never understood the faith. It is becoming apparent to me just how far away from the realities of grace the church has moved. In fact, the lame Jesus they offer, dropped in the hectic programmatic activities necessary to attract sufficient “Christians” to carry the cost of our sanctuaries, is less attractive than ever among those 80% of this nation’s population now de-churched. My numbers may be off somewhat but I am told that only 20% attend and those, averaging only twice per month! Dare we ask the question, “What are we doing or not doing that people running from?”
If I may, I would describe believers within three populations now beginning to be languaged in literature:
The churched – those who are hanging with the present institution in hope that outcomes will improve (if you keep doing what you have always done, expecting different results…), occasionally refreshed by a grace moment among those with whom they fellowship; these numbers seem to be in decline as well, with those churches that are experiencing growth more likely be the result of church transfer. Often these tired believers move out in search of some religious Wal-Mart that can provide full service programming and custodial care for their families.
The unchurched – those who may be attending but are beginning to accept the priesthood of believers, engaging themselves outside their home sanctuaries, at last experiencing the broader body of Christ and finding freedom, fulfillment and the resources necessary to truly minister to their communities.
Then the de-churched – those chronically damaged and fleeing souls who have coveted with themselves never to darken the doors of another institution, unnecessarily lame, dropped by we who profess to know God.
Is there a remedy for all three? Yes, and historically it occurs about every 500 years. The good news is that we seem to be on the cusp.
God is in control, our nation is reeling and Jesus is real! Not the Jesus of American Christianity but the Son of Man who was God, who cried out to the Father once nailed by us to a tree! “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
He was neither trying to get you to “come to church,” nor to work for, or flee from a wrathful Deity.
Rather, to recognize the voice of the Father faithfully shared with each human while still deep in their mother’s womb, “the voice” present as we were knit together, formed for abundant life in Him, each uniquely equipped for a powerful journey with the second Adam!
The Father who is able to “do exceeding and more abundantly than you are able to ask or think,” is calling back to Himself the creature He loves. Ready to pour out a healing balm for those wounded unnecessarily by a frightened church struggling to survive but ignorant of His great and personal covenant to mankind.