Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Church: In Lieu of Flowers…

I have been known to read the obituaries, which my wife thinks is morbid. What interests me is not death but what is said about a person’s life and the legacy that they left behind. One comment that often catches my attention is something like, “In lieu of flowers contributions can be made to the American _______ Society.” That society is often named after some awful disease that took that person’s life.

To me it is as if that person and their family fought that disease until the bitter end, and even after the fight was lost the family wants to celebrate the fight of life instead of giving honor to death. They continue that fight by investing and encouraging others to invest in conquering that dreadful disease.

As a church planter I am sometimes confronted by statistics on how bad the church is doing and how far certain nations have drifted from God. Many proclaim a woe-is-us mentality while accusing one person or another and discussing church and leadership spiritual obituaries as evidence that the sky is falling.

I for one do not agree because the world has always been more or less a mess, and Jesus knew this when He gave the Great Commission to “GO THEREFORE!” I would like to tack onto the end of every cynical church obituary or apocalyptic news headline the following: In Lieu of Flowers please…

  • Proclaim in faith that God’s kingdom will in fact come on earth as it is in heaven. I seem to remember this being included in a famous prayer somewhere.
  • Study your culture, its problems and dive ever deeper into God’s word to better understand how to communicate the cure. A right relationship with God, following Jesus & making disciples is the solution.
  • Take the step of faith to be a part of reaching others, and invest in other ventures throughout the world as other like-minded people do the same.
  • When the faith of others is derailed by the defeat or failure that they perceive in the church or in a nation then step in and stop the funeral. Jesus literally stopped funerals!

This battle begins with personal faith in God, but we must by all means proclaim this faith to others. The enemy does his share of proclaiming through secular media and even through believers who sometimes – pardon me here – just seem to be in morbid awe of what kind of mischief the antichrist is up to. I had better stop here before I necessarily offend someone.

We used to sing this song that was the proclamation of a pagan king. It would not hurt to sing it again.

…For He is the living God and enduring forever,
And His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed,
And His dominion will be forever. Dan 6:26