The times seem more uncertain, suddenly the strong breeze of prosperity has dropped – the wind more fitful and changeable. Those sailing in blissful ignorance are now stirring and wondering where the breeze that had been promised to blow constantly through their lives has gone? Wondering whether perhaps another breeze, a wind, maybe a storm is on the horizon, blowing strong onto the Cape of False Hope? Suddenly a dim spectre of shipwreck flutters at the corner of their minds. Perhaps the course they have been sailing is not as safe and sure as they had been lead to believe?
Perhaps this is the time for which the Church has been called to be ready – the precious few who did not join the flotilla of lies – ready to bring true Hope to those wrecked on the rocks of false promises and worldly expectations.
But so much of the church is weak – weak, undernourished and sick. The wolves have been rampant, and the people would have it so. They have been fed – not on true Food and Drink, but on thin gruel. Eat, eat, the wolves say, for this is the true gospel. This is what we bring to you! But I perceive only a slow, stultifying death of malnourishment. Apathetic and listful, we eat of this ‘food’, and find ourselves growing thinner and weaker. We know, somewhere in our conscience, that something is wrong, but we cannot put our finger on it. This is the church, yes? We have been told there is good food here. This isn’t quite what we expected, but, perhaps this is all there is? They ladle it into our bowls with much enthusiasm, so it must be good?
Occasionally we catch the tang, as our gruel is enriched with fortifying arsenic. Never too much, mind, lest those slumbering to their own destruction become aware of the true nature of what they are fed. Just a little here, a little there – just below the level of consciousness. Should any weakling articulate their misgivings, no mind, a new distraction will be found, the questions pointed elsewhere, others blamed for the weakened state.
I see it in so many places; in the Anglican tradition where the Way of Christ is reduced to a mere line in the supermarket of beliefs, where the Cross is simply a way of identifying with human suffering and our self-absorption is deified and worshipped. I see it in other traditions, where the gospel of Me, Myself and I, known otherwise as the ‘prosperity’ gospel, rules supreme over hearts and minds, lending a religious veneer to greed and acquisitiveness, and bearing both teacher and disciple down the broad road to destruction.
This is the church, then? Is all hope lost? Do not believe it. I have absolutely no hope for mankind. I have every hope in the One who gave us these words “I will build my Church, and the gates of Hell will not overcome it”. Though satan may rage, and roar, though he may deceive even the elect, he does not get the last say. There are still those who are ransomed and redeemed, there are those who hold firm to the Rock of their salvation, there are those who have true Hope, even amidst the rack and ruin of the world. There are those awake who will reap a harvest, 30 – 60 – 100 fold for Jesus Christ amidst this worldy rack and ruin. Pray that the Lord will waken more and send them into the harvest field, ready for the window of grace soon to open.