Monday, August 11, 2008

Something is Broken

"Do you really think you can steal, murder, commit adultery, lie and worship Baal and those other new gods of yours, and then come here and stand before me in my Temple and shout, "We are safe!" -- only to go right back to all those evils again." -- Jeremiah 7:9-10

"They offer superficial treatments for my people's mortal wound. They give assurances of peace when all is war. Are they ashamed when they do these disgusting things? No, not at all -- they don't even blush." -- Jeremiah 8:11-12a

This morning these two parts of my reading in Jeremiah almost jumper off the page. It seems to me that almost all the churches in the area I live are struggling in various ways. There is strife, discord, and out and out conflict present in so many of the churches. There are many reasons this is a tragedy, the biggest is the fact that it kills our witness to an unbelieving world. Now I am not responsible for diagnosing what is happening in other churches, but I am responsible for Cortland UMC. I can only speculate about what is happening in other places, but I will share what I think are two of the leading causes of problems in the churches, all around the country.

First, is from the Jeremiah 7 passage above. I guess in one word this could be addressing integrity. We live lives that show little to no evidence of following after God, yet on Sunday morning we drag ourselves to church and tell ourselves that we are alright. There is an attempt to comfort ourselves by spending that hour to hour and half with God. Then when the preacher says amen and we walk out the door it is back to life as usual.

Second, the passage from Jeremiah 8. This passage is speaking to and about the priests and prophets of Jeremiah's day. It could be seen as speaking to the pastors of this day. I have encountered many pastors, and I may be one too, who offer trite and superficial words to a people who are hurting. We, pastors, might be once again guilty of allowing people to let their lives run off course by not teaching the hard aspects of walking with God. The worst is than many of my colleagues do not even feel bad. In fact I have heard many a boast about how little effort some put in. I have heard celebration over doing just enough to get by.

O lord break us. May we, your people, respond once again to your calling. May we once again return to our first love. Lord, may I and my colleagues always remember the responsibility we have to lead the people of God. May we recapture the words of John Wesley, "Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable." In Jesus name.


Jeanie said...

Thank you for the quote from John Wesley. That certainly is a keeper.

Jeanie said...

I have to come back to this. I keep getting the desire to start a business. Which is so out of character for me. I am not the least bit talented in running a business. I was a Mary Kay consultant once. Not because I feel cosmetics are particularly important, but because I feel that when women look beautiful they feel beautiful and I enjoyed witnessing that transformation. I also, at least when Mary Kay Ash was still alive, agreed with the integrity of the company. My problem was that when I knew someone couldn't afford the product I would either talk them out of buying it or give them samples! Is that the quickest way to bankruptcy or what?
Still, I keep coming back to this "dream" and asking what is standing in my way? Well one of the real dilemmas I have is learning business management from a biblical perspective. I know people who are "Christian" who own businesses and aren't exactly the best example of Christ like principles. Even leadership people. It wears me out emotionally, trying to discern why it's ok to bend the law (whether it be biblical law or the law of the land) to get the desired results. And then I know (very few) others who take that to the n'th degree to test everything through biblical principles & I feel like I am dealing with a Pharisee. Although I feel I could learn more from the latter, I would want to temper that. So I fail to go forward at all. Something you discuss in the post about Fear of Jumping. With so many mistakes under my belt and really poor decisions, I guess I am tired of jumping. I jumped when I was younger for all the wrong reasons, and I am deeply afraid to jump now.

I guess maybe it all goes back to the fall. Even when we think we have figured it out, It's not about us, it is about Christ. So how do we remain constantly anchored to Him without having to continually be subjecting ourselves to the results of our poor choices? I seem to be stuck in that cycle and I don't think I'm alone. When I look at the bible I see plenty of examples of others who get in that cycle too. Constantly drifting away, doing my own thing. Then having to rely on Christ to get back to where I should have been to begin with. I guess if business is where I am being called, I will be setting myself up to constantly rely on Him. Otherwise I will be homeless and bankrupt. But I am fearful of taking that jump. And now with the economy the way it is ....More fear. But still if it is God's will He will work it out.

Back to the point though... A bad Christian Businessperson does really kill our witness to an unbelieving world... which may be the biggest root of the fear for me. That would break my heart... I wouldn't be able to live with those consequences.

When I asked my husband to leave. One of the biggest mistakes I made was to turn to my pastor who in turn, turned to everyone else in the church and the Emmaus community. I didn’t even anticipate that happening. My husband tried to get help from another pastor in the conference who had preached the message at Casowasco about pornography and infidelity. His heart was prepared for Godly instruction, but the way all unfolded led him away from Christ and not towards. I am almost 100% positive that the pastor in Auburn was told by our pastor to tell my husband to counsel with his own pastor in Cortland. If I had realized this or even suspected this at the time I would have left and gone to the Auburn church if that meant we would have received counseling that could have restored our marriage or even if not possible would have kept his heart intact with a relationship with God. Although I know I am not responsible for his relationship to Christ I feel like Christ’s love was not extended to him, that the church was judging and not offering healing. Ultimately he turned his back on Christ, and I pray every day for that relationship to be restored. Just like electricity I think we follow the path of least resistance, especially when we are wounded and broken.

I don’t know what the answers are, the church offered me strength, tried to offer healing I think. Was it offered? Or did the church just believe it was offered because I am still broken hearted.

I wasn't gonna post this but what the heck... I guess I'll jump!