Friday, March 13, 2009

Wake up American church… or is it too late

In a week with a church shooting in Marysville, Illinois killing 3 people; a shooting rampage in three small Alabama towns killing 12; we stand and scratch our heads and ask why.

This week Michael Spencer wrote an article in The Christian Science Monitor entitled” The Coming Evangelical Collapse,” it says in part:
“The evangelical investment in moral, social, and political issues has depleted our resources and exposed our weaknesses. Being against gay marriage and being rhetorically pro-life will not make up for the fact that massive majorities of Evangelicals can't articulate the Gospel with any coherence. We fell for the trap of believing in a cause more than a faith.”

“We Evangelicals have failed to pass on to our young people an orthodox form of faith that can take root and survive the secular onslaught. Ironically, the billions of dollars we've spent on youth ministers, Christian music, publishing, and media has produced a culture of young Christians who know next to nothing about their own faith except how they feel about it. Our young people have deep beliefs about the culture war, but do not know why they should obey scripture, the essentials of theology, or the experience of spiritual discipline and community. Coming generations of Christians are going to be monumentally ignorant and unprepared for culture-wide pressures.”
(And may I add, not just young people but most Christians are in the same predicament. )

I ask, “Is the evangelical church going to collapse or is it already gone? ”

In Ezekiel 34 God addresses shepherds (church pastors and leaders—elders, deacons, board members, youth leaders, etc.) and sheep (us or them depending on your perspective). God accused the leaders of the following in Ezekiel 34:1-16:

1) Taking care of themselves not the flock (v.2)
2) Not strengthening the weak (v.4)
3) Not healing the sick (v.4)
4) Not binding up the injured (v.4)
5) Not bringing back the strays (those who left the church for whatever reason) (v.4)
6) Not searching for the lost (v.4)
7) Ruling harshly and brutally (v.4)

Because of Shepherds lack of Godly leadership, the sheep (God’s disciples) have “become food for wild animals;” the world has consumed them and used them and threw them away like last week’s magazine. The sheep were scattered and no one bothered to get off their duff and search for them (1960-2009).

The Shepherds (v. 8) cared for themselves rather than “my flock” (VIP parking and a sense of privilege and exaltation exhibited in some of our leaders). The Lord says, “I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock.” The consequences for the shepherds (v.10): They will be removed from tending the flock and they won’t be able to feed themselves. As I see it, the Lord is through playing games with us pastors and church leaders. God forgive us and help us. Amen

The Lord does not need our help; He chooses to use us. If we do not lead, He will do the following (according to Ezekiel 34)
1) Search for the lost Himself (v. 11)
2) He will look after them (v. 11)
3) “I will rescue them” (v.12)
4) “I will bring them in” (v.13)
5) “I will gather them” (v.13)
6) “I will pasture them” (feed us physically and spiritually) (v.13)
7) He will tend His people (He will do what he promised) v.14
8) He will again search for the lost (v.16)
9) He will bring back the strays (He will go into the world and find the lost, lonely, abused, and forgotten)
10) “I will bind up the injured” v. 16 (the drug user, the abused, the old, the young, the lost sheep)
11) God will strengthen the weak (v.16)

BUT “The sleek” (the slick and creepy ) “and the strong, I will destroy” - v.16 (His words, not mine).
Wake up American Church. Wake up.
And He ends v. 16 with this, “I shepherd the flock with justice.”
Thank you, Jesus; come quickly Lord Jesus. Save us from sin. Amen

Ezekiel 34:1-16: 1 The word of the LORD came to me: 2 "Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? 3 You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. 4 You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. 5 So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. 6 My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them.
7 " 'Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD : 8 As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, because my flock lacks a shepherd and so has been plundered and has become food for all the wild animals, and because my shepherds did not search for my flock but cared for themselves rather than for my flock, 9 therefore, O shepherds, hear the word of the LORD : 10 This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves. I will rescue my flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them.
11 " 'For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. 12 As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. 13 I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land. 14 I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. 15 I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign LORD. 16 I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.

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