A Powerful Visual

On occasion we are gifted with a visual, an image, of something we are meant to grasp cognitively but struggling to see. One of my most memorable such visuals came while I was standing at 11,000 feet in the Andes assessing the trail just climbed only to observe a farmer separating wheat from chaff. I may be a redneck but I was raised in the city so understanding that passage was nearly incomprehensible without this kindly image.

Another such visual came Sunday. The Richardsons were in route to church Sunday morning on sparsely populated roads when we came upon a full parking lot in front of a week old LA Fitness. It was 8:50 on a Sunday morning. Wow, all those people out on Sunday morning willfully pursuing health. And, at least for the moment, not in church.

I could not help but wonder why fewer and fewer people each year look to the church for health when health is obviously a concern. Is it because we can’t bring ourselves to diagnose? Liberals have eliminated sin and judgment from the discourse, well apart from epithets for the oppressors of the masses and perpetrators of social injustice. Oddly enough, more conservative churches sold out to church growth have done the same thing. The cross becomes a stumbling block to the seeker or unbeliever so it is removed from the wall. We need not offend. Everywhere we say “all is well.” Then why go to the hospital? Are we failing to diagnose the most universal of afflictions?

Or perhaps we are failing on behalf of the Great Physician to communicate the remedy so abundant in supply we have no fear rationing? Paul Zahl, in “Grace in Practice,” rightly makes soteriology one of four pillars of a theology of grace. Soteriology is the realm of salvation or rescue. “The problem, our human nature that requires rescue if it is not to become suicidal, exists whether rescue comes or not.” “But,” Zahl continues, “everything changes if there is this hope of deliverance.” Our futile efforts to change ourselves are overcome in Jesus. We need not be shackled to the same old same old. We need not be plagued by the universal affliction. The physician has a remedy. Indeed the physician himself is the remedy. And the supply of this remedy is not bound by our delivery systems past or present.

So muse with me. People are pursuing health. But fewer are pursuing health in the church. Why? Have we failed to diagnose. Or failed to prescribe? It is likely some combination of the two.

One Response to “A Powerful Visual”

  • Robert Says:

    John, thoughts.

    I think in THIS day and age, folks of all ages/colors see the church as still an ancient church dealing with “general sin”. We are sinful creatures, sin plagues all humans, etc. What people don’t realize (and what I’ve come to realize) is that if you really listen to the word, it will be revealed. Going to church with an open slate if you will.

    Therefore, these days, in my opinion, everything has to be black and white. If you said the words…”come to my church, and the addiction you have with pain medication x will soon go away, or all that are ages 20-30 with marital issues pertaining to money problems come to our services” there might be some buzz.

    But that shouldn’t be the case. If we are to go to our maker and to learn his will for us our problems would go away. There isn’t a quick answer to all afflictions.

    Point: You once told me that for MY marriage: If two people are to have a solid marriage, both should study God’s will together, separately. Then, in the end, God’s will, will emerge and dominate my marriage. If we are to have healthy lives, the answer is in the church, to have the answer, people must be RESPONSIBLE for their own individual lives.

    GOD IS CALLING US, EACH AND EVERY DAY. Christ is very serious in this request and sometimes we forget this. So much so, our Lord was nailed to a tree. That enough should help our health, Love abounding, a fortress for all.

    We all need to wake from our “important” private lives.

    (Excuse the rambling!):)

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