Thursday, October 9, 2008

...And Yet Hope Remains

I was present for military honors at a funeral. It was hot. Our part of the ceremony at the grave site had concluded and it was the time for the minister to speak. I must admit that my expectations were not very high. I knew pretty much what to expect.

I had driven by his church before. They meet in a giant General Steel building. A sterile, metal gymnasium with a sign out front that carries the word "fellowship" in its name where one would think "church" should be. I know that they have a dance ministry and their worship falls deep within the pentecostal realm.

He wore no vestments. He held no rubric in his hand. He stood before us all in a dress shirt and slacks with a well-worn Holy Bible has he sorted through all the scraps of paper and pieces of bulletin that were wedged in the pages. He began with his opening statements. He thanked the congregation for being with the family in the past few weeks and he encouraged them to continue with their care for one another. I braced myself for the inevitable unremarkable comments of the modern minister to the modern church.

And then it happened.

"This is no false hope," He said. "This is no pipe dream. As surely as Christ was raised from the dead and ascended to the right hand of the Father, so we shall also be raised up to be with Him at the end."

He continued, "This earth will be made new. You and I and [the deceased] will all stand before Jesus in the flesh again. Together. Alive. We will all be reunited by faith and see God. Because of Jesus, there is hope here."

Sometimes I lose sight of just how powerful the good news about Jesus is. As a lover of the Gospel, I sometimes forget that this thing that I cling to is not my creation, but a revelation by the Spirit. I become so concerned about its fragility that I lose sight of its scope and resilience. I spend a great deal of time defending the Truth... sometimes to the point that I forget just how powerful, pervasive, and penetrating it is.

As we worry, and fret, and bemoan the sorry state of the church, the Holy Spirit continues to move in spite of our 'best' efforts. We look around us with human eyes and see a dead world that is paved over with temporal concern and a church that is fashioning itself to emulate it. In so many places, the beauty of the Gospel has been torn down, tread under, and cast aside in favor of the urban sprawl of enthusiastic error, pleasure seeking, and feel-goodism.

We look around and see lifeless stone everywhere we look and we buy into despair and hopelessness. But there are cracks in the pavement of the Modern Church and, even in those tiniest of spaces, the glorious flower of the Gospel continues to take root and bloom. As dead and hardened as so many are, the Word is still preached and heard.

In spite of what people will tell you, hope still remains. Christ is still the King of His Church. The gates of hell do not prevail against her. Christ continues to care for His sheep and He continues to go out and rescue people. The Holy Spirit still grows us all in the truth and knowledge of God. The Truth is still out there for those with an ear to hear.

There is alot of work to do. There is alot of 'work' that needs to be undone. So many places and souls have become ravaged and bare. But do not lose sight of the flowers in the sidewalk. Do not forget to see every blossom of the Gospel and rejoice. Do not allow yourself to pass by the Gospel without notice and without action.

Spring is upon us. Even as the world dies around us (taking far too many Christians with it), there are still flowers blooming. We should be watering and planting instead of weeping over all the bare rock that we see.

There is hope for all who are in bondage to sin, error, and the false teachers. I am living proof: a flower formerly wedged in the pavement.

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