For our Lord God Almighty
Let us rejoice and be glad
and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has
and his bride has made herself
Fine linen, bright and clean,
was given her to wear.
(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts
of the saints.)
I heard it preached yesterday that "the Church is dying..." It's not the first time I've heard it preached, and I actually understand the context. But I'm a little undone by the verses, facts, and opinions used to support the idea.
Yes, mainline "churches" have been declining for quite some time. Thousands close their doors annually as America drifts into a deeper sea of moral relativity. And those of us in an older generation look over our shoulders at Europe and cringe to think in America in the next couple of decades the Christian landscape may be as spiritually barren. Okay - so we could really talk about this, and maybe in the future we will. But today I just need to shout something out to the world, then get back to what I'm called to do - follow Jesus moment by moment, obey his calling to raise these boys with a biblical worldview, love and support my husband, and be the hands and feet of my Savior to a hurting, broken world.
THE CHURCH IS NOT DEAD!
THE CHURCH IS NOT DYING!
DO you know how I know?
"Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns!" Do you see it?
I believe that. Jesus Christ, "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. AND HE IS THE HEAD OF THE BODY, THE CHURCH." Col. 1:15-18a
I'm sorry, but you cannot preach the Church is dead. For Christ is the Church's head and the Church is his body. And though Jesus was crucified and placed in a tomb, He rose from the dead and is seated at the right hand of - yes - The Lord God Almighty - who reigns!
I have sat through so many church services over these last two decades and sorrowed. As a young woman I have been angry with the leadership of churches. As wisdom and discernment have grown in me I have spent many sermons disturbed at the frequency that scripture is used out of context - like the time a pastor preached that God does not hear the prayers of the unbeliever. Okay, don't get me started about the fact that WE were ALL once unbelievers, and even those of us that desperately want to follow the Master show unbelief on a daily basis.
Ken and I are bringing Church home for now. We will worship together as a family and with NCC from miles across an ocean. Our kids are connected in youth groups and we're about to start a small group of married couples to enjoy community: fellowship, corporate worship, accountability, and encouragement.
We've been discouraged in this move. And so sad to be discouraged amongst believers. But yesterday God cleared some things up for me. Those thoughts will follow in another post, but the simple idea is to look back over my years as Ken's wife and examine who I have been, who I have become, and where my successes and failures have been along the way. I realized yesterday that so many things that cause me to suffer about the state of the church are flaws that I myself have brought to my marriage to Ken. Thank the Lord God Almighty that his plan involves love and patience. And as I continue to submit myself to Jesus~as I continue to race after him when I lag behind~I grow more to be like the Proverbs 31 woman. Not by my hand. Not by my will. Even the fine linen, bright and clean, is a gift from the most precious God. Hallelujah.
I've spent the last 5 weeks studying 1 Corithians 13. The boys and I have memorized the entire chapter. It's been an amazing experience to dwell in the "love" chapter for over a month. You know what?
Love is patient.
Love is kind.
Love rejoices with the truth.
Love always protects.
Love always trusts.
Love always hopes.
Love always perseveres.
Love never fails.
I'm not dead. Thank you, Jesus Christ.
Be a part of the living body of Christ, Favored One! Because three things will always remain: "faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." 1 Cor. 13:13