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A church in shambles?

It is a strange time. A deeply challenging time for so many. Yet in every crisis and challenge there are opportunities. Of course, some will exploit the crisis. But that’s not what I’m talking about, nor am I talking about an entrepreneurial angle. I’m talking about God’s people.

During World War II the German church was in shambles. Few, known as the “confessing church” dared to stand up to Hitler. Those trying to stay faithful to the ways of Jesus paid dearly, often with their lives. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was one such Christian. While in prison, he wrote the following about the German church, as recorded in the book, The Life and Death of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It has an eerily resonant yet hopeful tone which I think speaks to us today:

“Our church, which has been fighting in these years only for its self-preservation, as though that were an end in itself, is incapable of taking the word of reconciliation and redemption to mankind and the world. Our earlier words are therefore bound to lose their force and cease, and our being Christians today will be limited to two things: prayer and righteous action among men. All Christian thinking, speaking and organizing must be born anew out of this prayer and action….It will be a new language, perhaps quite non-religious, but liberating and redeeming – as was Jesus’ language; it will shock people and yet overcome them by its power; it will be the language of new righteousness and truth, proclaiming God’s peace with men and the coming of his kingdom.”

Perhaps God is allowing a shaking and re-framing of His Church in this time? What questions should we be asking? How might we participate? For now, join me in this prayer:

God, use our voices and our experiences to bring glory to you and draw people toward love for you and deeper love for one another. Build your church in all the ways you intend. We repent for all the ways we’ve made and remade the institution of religion in our own image and for our own power and glory. Use us in this time to bring new paradigms to our national narrative, bringing your kingdom to Earth as it is in Heaven. 

Bring healing to all the broken places. Tear down the unjust systems. Show the darkness for what it is, wherever it is. Bring together every tongue and tribe and nation of people – we are already assembled physically here in America – but your church is not living it out. We desire the radical togetherness only you can bring. 

We feel, deep in our souls, that there is a more beautiful, higher, deeper way to be your people. If we don’t share this, what good is it to have? We ask you, God, to use us to reshape the Church in this time. Conform us more and more to your will and the ways of Jesus. Restore and bring forth the beauty of your people as we love you and love one another, with no limits on who is the “one another.” We desire what you desire. Reveal it to us, by your supernatural power. Amen.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Joel

Joel Searby

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