Monday, March 06, 2006

Could We Endure a Reformation?

This morning I awoke with Reformation on my mind. It is the first thought in my head in the morning, and it is the last thought on my mind as I go to sleep. In my day dreams I envision a Church submissive to its leadership; a people humble enough to face accountability, and individuals so full of grace and boldness that they shine like the sons of God they are. I dream of a church in love with her gospel. Hers in the sense that it has been entrusted to her by her beloved, and that she owns it in as much as she is enthralled by it. I imagine a church loving Scripture as it were the very bread of heaven. I imagine a people preparing themselves for a reward that will outstrip the finest fancies that this world has to offer. And then I imagine how we will get there.

My mind turns then to broken hearts, to broken relationships, to fighting and slander and envy. I think of the shock on faces and the quiver of outrage when the power of the gospel is unleashed. I think of church splits of guffaws from communities as the very house of God is shaken with truth.

We are not yet the Church Triumphant; we are the Church Militant. But for now, we are an undisciplined crew. Our rolls are filled with unbelievers who will not abide a true religious awakening. Many of those who are saved will quake at the revelation of the true greatness of God and the depravity of man. Haven't you? They will tremble to learn that there is more to Christianity than a short walk down an aisle and memorizing John 3:16. When the rain of the Spirit falls upon the seed of the gospel faithfully sown, the earth trembles as the fruit baring plant plows through the soil. No one has ever borne fruit for God whose soul has not endured such a shaking.

It is easy to talk about being a Christian; it is hard to look in the mirror of God's word and find a sinner staring back: one who is totally dependant upon an undeserved, unmerited faith. To find that one, no matter how exalted and good we used to believe ourselves to be, was truly inches from the flames of hell that can never be quenched or satisfied is a shattering experience. To awake with that understanding daily is to begin to understand the gratitude we should have for salvation.

When we pray for reformation, we are praying for God to lay people in the dust. We are praying for Him to mercilessly reveal sin and to scour away pride. We are praying for Him to turn the heat so hot that the dross will rise to the top for us to see our ugliness, and to watch helplessly as He scoops it away in His kindness and mercy. The Holy One handled my sin. He is too close for comfort, but a thousand deaths would be better than His departure. When we pray for revival we pray that we will be ashamed for God to see us as we are, and yet desperate for Him to stay and look and heal.

The Christian carries this burden: The gospel he is entrusted with demolish those with whom he shares it. The Christian carries this joy: When the gospel has shattered our self-image, it pieces it back together to form the image of God without blemish. The gospel is the power of God for salvation, and it is the power of God to damnation. Both results occur everytime we teach, preach and share. It is the meaning of life, and its rejection is the cause of death. Who is sufficient for these things?

I know that one day my vision for God's church will come to pass. I know that one day I will see Christ's bride without blemish. But I also know that it will not come without struggle and a price. I pray that God will send Reformation, and I pray that He will make me able stand when it comes.

1 comment:

Jonathan Moorhead said...

Could we endure a persecution?