image by: 1924us
Revelation 10:9 So I went to the angel and asked him to give me the little scroll. He said to me, “Take it and eat it. It will turn your stomach sour, but in your mouth it will be as sweet as honey. 10 I took the little scroll from the angel’s hand and ate it. It tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour. 11 Then I was told, “You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages and kings.”
Both John and Ezekiel delivered hard words …consuming the Word was sweet but, then, the reality of its implications caused a bitterness in the belly that had to be extracted. My words should not be equated to John or Ezekiel, but, I find as I blur the line between pastoral care and prophetic pronouncement – the bitter taste of reality, that what I’ve consumed – also needs to come out and it often doesn’t really matter if I’m ready or not.
Saturday morning, I was in my office after realizing that the overnight temperatures likely killed the strawberry plants that I forgot to cover…it’s too cold for May 9th and I’m weary of social media and conspiracy theories and the virus and another young black man murdered by white men and hearing of another pastor ending his own life for God knows why and on and on and on…I’m tired and so are we all.
I’m not an advocate for sticking our heads in the sand and pretending that all is well. All is not well and it’s no secret that we’re struggling to know how to live in this new paradigm but, seriously! One would think that sheltering in place for the past 9 weeks would give those of us who say we follow Jesus at least some semblance of sanity – I mean, are we not to live our lives differently from the rest of the world? Is there no amount of peace that is supposed to inform our state of mind? Our anxiety? Instead, we talk about this and we spout about that. Never mind that Jesus has called us to more. Oh, wait – that only applies when the going is easy…only then are we living in the blessing of God Almighty! When life is hard, apparently, God is not for us anymore and we need to pick up the stick and start beating the hell out of every person and problem that doesn’t align with our way of thinking or guessing or hypothesizing or whatever it is that we are doing!
IT’S LIKE WE’VE TAKEN OUR CLOTHES OFF AND THE WOLF HAS EMERGED!
If we are not the light of the world, we’re like salt that has lost its flavor…it’s of no use and needs to be thrown out. We’ve been called to more and our brothers and sisters expect more of us! Imagine the way the world around us is perceiving us in these days. Have we forgotten that the church is not the building on the corner, although, before COVID-19, it is where the church used to meet? The church is the body of Christ, made up of you and I, flesh and blood humans that have, supposedly, been filled with the Spirit of God which, supposedly, gives us the ability to think differently. Is it not the renewing of the mind that allows for discerning what the good and perfect will of God is? That’s what I thought. So, instead of believing some half-cocked diatribe created to snow the gullible, place your eyes on Jesus…ask Him how to live instead of living on Facebook. Let His peace penetrate every facet of your life and see if this time of isolation that is left will do some good in your life. It is time for full-on repentance! Oh, and by the way, one more thing…you want revival? Then repent! You can’t have one without the other. We don’t do sack cloth and ashes but, we can certainly humble ourselves and admit to the wrong we have done. God honors that. God moves mountains for those who admit their need for Him.
Yes, I’m tired, as are we all. Maybe when I’m tired and a little discouraged, it is better to put the pen down and keep my thoughts to myself or, maybe, a lament needs to be written as our fathers would have. Sometimes, a leader has to say exactly what he’s thinking instead of always being so damn careful to not offend anyone. There, now I’m a preacher that swears too. (It’s a good thing you didn’t see the first draft.) I’m not going to sit back, smile and pat you on the back and tell you “it’s all going to be ok”. Maybe, it will be but, will WE be? Will we, as the church, seriously come out of this and all just try to go back to normal?? What is normal? Making sure our comforts and routines are uninterrupted? Or, will normal finally mean that we will actually care for the orphaned and widowed of our day, exercising the virtue of pure religion or will we keep being polluted by the world and its way of thinking?
Now, lest you think that I’m lashing out and writing this to you and not me, hold on. I’m just as convicted about this as the next person. No, I don’t make all my views as public as some do, but my mind is doing its own wrestling and judging and condemning. We all just need a timeout to exercise the spiritual filtration that was installed in our hard drive when we surrendered ourselves to Jesus and then proceed with care and caution…and put our clothes back on.