The headlines are certainly not sharing good news for the most part. Natural disasters abound from one side of the world to the other and that doesn’t begin to touch the folly of man that points to other tragedies around the globe. It would seem we could all do with a healthy dose of Good News and I know of only One solid source for that that never fails. What is tragic is that too often shadows even fall over that and discourage too many from believing there is Good News or there is a place where they can find it.
In the novel, Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry, that has inspired a fair number of posts of mine in recent weeks, Jayber talks of his own struggles as a result of the various church experiences he has known in the various small Kentucky villages and towns he lived in. At one point he muses:
“…as I have read the Gospels over the years, the belief has grown in me that Christ did not come to found an organized religion, but came instead to found an unorganized one. He seems to have come to carry religion out of the temples into the fields and sheep pastures, onto the roadsides and the banks of the rivers, into the houses of sinners and publicans, into the towns and wilderness, toward the membership of all that is here.”
Our reactions to his experiences can range from offense to strong agreement based on what we view as the hypocrisy of the body of Christ or organized church or the very personal wounds we have experienced within it or as a part of it. Our reactions are very much based on our own experiences, our own lens, even as Jayber’s were. The result can be that we can be duped into either dismissing the church (or ourselves from being a part of it) or we operate with a certain denial that ignores the truth of evidences it is blemished to varying degrees by the human element and the enemy’s assault. Major fractures have taken place in our churches and in other places minor cracks have been observed. They are evidences of the fragmentation within each of us. Try as we might, perfection eludes us which is why we needed a Savior to begin with and why God’s grace and love was extended because He knew He would have to do for us what we could not.
I wonder if we have expected too much of the church or perhaps too little. I wonder how often we consider our own role in the conundrum.
How fragmented we may or may not be affects the fabric of the church as well. Fragmentation is the handiwork of the enemy. It exists in varying degrees in us all and he has been using it since time began and most certainly after Jesus left His disciples to spread the Good News and usher in the body of Christ as the bride He is coming for.
John Eldredge speaks of how traumatizing the enemy’s work has been from the very beginning, pointing out his lustful desire to separate us not only from God, but also from one another. In his latest book, All Things New, listen to some of the ways he describes this:
“Our Enemy is the Great Divider. His most poisonous work takes place at the level of fragmentation, dividing families, churches, and fomenting racial hatred. He uses pain and suffering to create deep divisions within our own beings.”
A few lines later he adds:
“Our lives have become cut off from the Garden we were meant to flourish in.”
Have we been duped into looking to each other to be what only He can be? Have we forgotten the thread of humanity that resides in all of us is what can bring us together in a crisis or tragedy? Do we not value that enough?
There is not only Good News to be had, but also truly the very BEST news.
Certainly the Bible speaks about it, but He is not limited to that primary source. He speaks to us through creation at every turn, through the rustling leaves stirring in the breeze, the babbling brook, and the warmth of the sun on our skin. He reminds us He has created and set us in time to structure our days and nights and create order in the midst of the enemy’s desire to create disorder.
The growing disorder we see is also a reminder He is coming again and likely sooner than we may think.
Can we see in the midst of and beyond the headlines and see Him watching and looking for us to look up and see Him?