Hello folks and welcome back to another post from The Eason Clan. So I spent two hours writing yesterday, and my WordPress App glitched out and I lost EVERYTHING I wrote (it was a pretty solid blog post too, if I do say so myself). Yet even after I complained out loud and went through a day of random writing – comparing everything to the post I lost – I realized I had to let it go and keep going.
“Let it go! Let it go! Can’t hold it back anymore!”
Man, too much Frozen is played in my house.
So here I am. Yet again, for the third time in 36 hours. But that’s okay, because even now, I am reminded of a poster that used to be on my bedroom wall as a teenager:
Do Your Best, And God Will Do The Rest
Today’s blog is based on Romans 5:6, “When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.” Paul was writing this letter, Romans, to the early church; to encourage the believers and to lay out some solid foundational Christian truths. The early church, also known as “The Way”, were believers in Jesus, who went from town to town spreading the gospel and teaching that salvation was through Christ alone. They went forward with one goal and one direction: to preach the gospel to every person who would listen.
After a few years, small congregations started popping up everywhere the apostles of Jesus went. Paul kept writing letters to these new groups of Christians, encouraging them to press on and endure the persecution they were facing in the Greek-Roman dominated world of idol worship and false gods. You can imagine, a Christian showing up in a Greek town that had never heard about Jesus ( let alone a message that there was only One God) when those in the town had 12 gods to worship.
Even in persecution, ie. beatings, stoning, torture, whipping and death, the number of believers kept growing.
Fast forward to present day.
Today, we are seeing multiple ‘churches’ dying out due to multiple factors. Loss of attendance. Conflict. Politics. Scandal. There could be a whole host of reasons, however one dominant theme is when a church becomes more concerned about internal relations rather than the external relations, that church begins to die.
Let’s look at it this way. If you take a large jar of water, filled to the brim, and leave it there for weeks and weeks, what happens?
It becomes stagnant.
If you slowly pour out that water, the water cycles around, swishing inside with renewed oxygen and lasts longer. If new water is poured in, oh my gosh, it gets a new lease on life!
I remember one time when I was working as a Grounds Keeper in a local cemetery – mowing grass for a summer – I had to gather up the flowers from a Anglican flower service. In Newfoundland and Labrador, it is tradition (not sure if it still is now) for a yearly flower service to take place, when families can come and lay beautiful flowers around their loved ones’ headstone. Usually a week after the service, most people come back and take the flowers from the plots and/or take the containers with the flowers in them. However some families don’t return, and leave it there to be cleaned up by…. me!
Honestly, it was my least favourite job… ever!
“Dude, your picking up flowers and throwing them anyway. How hard could that be? You Millennial lazy-lump!”
True, but have you ever smelled rotting flower water?
Literally the worst smell to ever invade my nose.
So it was my job to take dozens of containers filled with this putrid water and dispose of them; once I even threw up behind the church garbage box because the smell was so bad.
How is it that something so beautiful, placed on display for all to see, can turn so nasty when it’s left alone and not taken care of properly? Well its similar in some ways to what happens when a churches’ focus turns away from God and turns inward to man.
After all, the primary reason for a church is to be a platform for preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, isn’t it? To unite believers, creating a safe place for all to come, fellowship and worship – while simultaneously witnessing to those outside the church?
Sadly though we see churches today that have died out, their buildings becoming historic sites rather than gospel sites.
The body of Christ needs to get back to it’s roots. The simple gospel message and the desire for spreading it.
During Paul’s ministry, small churches started popping up everywhere as the apostles of Jesus went about fulfilling what He commanded them to do, “And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.” Mark 16:15. Paul kept writing letters to these new groups of Christians, encouraging them to press on and endure the persecution they were facing in the dominated Greek-Roman world of idol worship and false gods. In fact, Christians were often met with persecution, ie. beatings, stoning’s, torture, whippings and death.
But what happened?
The church (the movement) started to grow – rapidly. Where once there was a few, suddenly Christians started popping up everywhere.
What kind of message could attract people who were considered despicable by ‘religious leaders’ and outcasts in society; Roman soldiers became Christians living in an occupied land, and the dreaded tax collector left his scales and riches?
A message of hope. A message of transformation. A message of purpose.
There is no better way to word it then Paul’s own words from Romans 5:6-9, “When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation.”
For the religious leaders of the time, they felt threatened by this message, and decided to crack down on this new movement and stamp it out.
All attempts to stop the church were in vain however, as the gospel of Christ spread like wildlife, even in the midst of intense and brutal treatment. The apostle Paul was no stranger to harsh punishments and abuse from those that tried to stop the gospel. This is what he wrote to the Corinthian church when news came to Paul about some people who were bragging about their exploits:
“Are they servants of Christ? I know I sound like a madman, but I have served him far more! I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and day adrift at sea. I have travelled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone with food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm.”2 Corinthians 11:23-27
Bringing It Home
For the first time in my life, I am witnessing churches being sold and their buildings being turned in condos and tourist attractions. I’ve heard about churches being burned down and targeted by those who would want Christianity out of their society, but just having the building go up for sale?
I never thought it would happen.
Yet even in a Canadian society, the church is not dead. Sure, statistics show a major decline in numbers for those who identify themselves as Christian and those who don’t, but I honestly believe God is shaking up the church, preparing it for something greater. Those within the church that should have never have been pastors, ministers, priests, leadership, etc are being rooted out and exposed, freeing the church from their corruption and bringing healing to those who’ve suffered. Oh a personal note, the Anglican minister who christened me, later became a pedophile and sex offender, is again now in jail.
Like come on!
(I thank the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Officers who worked tirelessly to bring this man to justice. Your dedication to the public, for ensuring safety for vulnerable children and working with the justice system to lock away those who would prey on the defenseless is admirable and courageous.)
Jesus said in Luke 12:2, “The time is coming when everything that is covered up will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all.” He also said gave a warning to those who do these things (and also to us), “But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone hung around your neck.” Mark 9:42
AKA “You ain’t getting away with this horrendous stuff in this life, and you won’t get away with it in the afterlife.”
I believe there is a shift coming on the horizon; and now more then ever, we should start seeking God. If you stopped going to church because you’ve been wronged or ‘burned’ by someone in the church, there are other churches out there. Try one out, meet with the Pastors, Ministers, Priests and find out what the core values are for the church. Don’t shut the door on God because of a bad experience or something wrong that someone did in the name of God.
Cling to the gospel message that God sent his Son Jesus Christ, to die on a cross to take our sins, so that everyone who believes in Him will not die, but have eternal life. All your past sins are washed away, and you are given a new life in Christ Jesus.
Man, that’s Good News.
A message you can’t stop.
Tune in next time for some wacky humor from The Eason Clan.