Well, something has been stirring in me for the last 48 hours. I've been reading Reggie McNeal's, "The Present Future." Good read so far. I ended up on this book because people keep saying that the things I'm teaching sound like this book. I figured I had better read it! I am also spending the first 20 minutes or so of every day in THE Word. And, yesterday, I had a conversation with my good friend, Mike Martindale, about the way people set aside kingdom thought and goals for their own glory and ego. Each of these elements were already simmering in my mind, but sometime Tuesday evening, the two readings and this conversation colided, and began boil.
Early in his book, McNeal comments on a mine collapse in 2002. He says, "In the summer of 2002, the country spent several anxious days concerned about the fate of nine mine workers trapped in a mine in Pennsylvania. Rescue efforts involved several innovative strategies, including pumping heated air down a shaft. As the workers emerged from their ordeal, so did the story of their survival. One key element was their decision to huddle together to stay warm and in touch with one another in the cold darkness of the collapsed mine.
The Church of North America far too often resembles these miners. Feeling trapped in the collapse of the church culture, club members are huddling together in the dark and praying for God to resuce them from the mess they are in. This is the refuge mentality of many congregations and church leaders. Instead, the church needs to adopt the role of the resuce workers on the surface. They refused to quit, worked 24/7, and were willing to go to plan B or whatever it took to effect a rescue." (McNeal, p. 18-19) Man, do I resonate with his observation. But I took it a step farther: What if the rescue team on top only fought with one another about which method was right, correct, appropriate, and blocked any ideas but their own? The obvious answer: the miners would have perished because of the inability of the rescuers to see the big picture. I've been dwelling on this illustration for days. And, as Mike and I talked yesterday, we spoke of people with no kingdom vision, only the hopes of their own glory, or their own victory. Meanwhile, the miners perish.
Then, during my Quiet Time, I read Jude 8 - 11: "In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority, and slander celestial beings. But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, 'The Lord rebuke you!' Yet, these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals - these are the very things that destroy them. Woe to them!..." (NIV)
WHOOSH, the simmer reaches a boil...There are people who have infiltrated the church, who rage and speak abusively of things that they don't understand, opting to espouse ideas that gratify their own desires/instincts of self-preservation, self-gratification, and self-glorification. And their raging costs the miners their lives. "Holiday or Christmas" "Guitar vs. Organ" "Couches vs. Pews" The main stream of American Christians choose to huddle, not in the mine, but on top of the mine, afraid that someone might try to resuce the perishing with methods they don't approve of, protecting the ground they have gained even though that ground stands in the very opening of the mine. Meanwhile, those who need it most, those whose lives hang in the balance, perish because of the feud at the mine opening.
As this melding pot of ideas simmers down in my mind, the residual left behind tastes bittersweet. People are perishing, the rescuers are floundering, but a glimmer of hope winks on the horizon. For God's glory, and the sake of those perishing: Awake, church, and rush to the rescue!
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