Is it just me or am I hearing the loud silence of acceptance of the rising gas prices lately? Recently, I sighed at the large sign up the road, blaring the news that gas had risen to two and three quarters’ bucks per gallon, unleaded. My, how things can change in a year. Twelve months ago when the prices had risen to nearly three dollars a gallon in my hometown, the consternation was palpable; people were calling their congressmen, the governor stepped in, and angry mobs with torches and pitchforks were marching on filling stations. But that was last year.
So, what’s that I hear today?
Guess those anger management classes have worked wonders. Or perhaps we’ve all gotten sheepish after all those empty threats of showing the gas companies by not driving. If memory serves, our lust for the road didn’t downshift one iota, so we ate our crow and found that silence is the better virtue. Or maybe we just got conditioned to the frenetic oil market and what was once a crisis is now commonplace, redolent of the proverbial frog in a kettle. Mmmmm, yeah, a nice warm bath after a hard day…hey, do you smell something? Smells like chicken…
The church too has been conditioned by the elements around her and rather than jumping out of the fryer, she has gotten comfy in the nice warm liquid bubbling all around her. She’s made agreements and concessions with the world, looked the other way and sold bits and pieces of herself to the lowest bidders. And with each rising degree she adapts. She thinks she can win the world so long as she stands one half-step away from it even though she sloshes around in the same putrid waters the world splashed in just a half-step earlier.
“Stockholm Syndrome” has invaded the church. She has become sympathetic and friendly to the same world system that has abducted her and would see her die. The thing about “SS” is that while the abductee might become more friendly toward the captor, the captor remains just as determined to see his scheme through, never becoming amenable or sympathetic. The church is deceived into thinking her becoming more worldly will work to her advantage. (A note here: I’m talking about ‘church’ in the most general terms, not she who is the Bride, the wise virgin, the one wrapped in His Light)
In various parts of the world today, where the heat is the strongest against the church, 150,000 are martyred yearly. This is overt persecution. What we have in America today is another type of persecution altogether. It has been called “warm” persecution (as in the temperature slowly being raised and the church’s being oblivious to it until it is too late) or “passive” persecution, which elicited this comment from a visiting Chinese pastor who was eyewitness to the seductively damning culture of America, “It would be very difficult to stand for Christ in the face of such persecution.”
While America burns, the church is up in her palaces playing the fiddle with her eyes closed, not once taking into account that those same fires will soon consume her as well. It is clear the church is making no impact on modern society here in the west. Instead I have this peculiar picture in my head that the collective society, from media to man on the street, stands over the pot like diabolical schoolkids giggling at the frog. Poke him, Ernie, see if he jumps…no, no, turn the knob…higher!…higher!…
Or maybe they don’t notice us at all.
Five years ago, George Barna wrote, “It is quite astounding that although Protestant and Catholic churches have raised – and spent – close to one trillion dollars on domestic ministry during the past two decades, there has been no measurable increase in one of the expressed purposes of the church: to lead people to Christ and have them commit their lives to Him.” In 2005 his reporting showed that despite higher levels of creativity, glitzier marketing, savvier productions, cheekier technos and slicker services, spirituality has not deepened and our cities still puke out the fumes of the dark kingdom that rules over them.
And here we are, doing the backstroke, not feeling the burn. Hey, I ask you, my reader, is there hope? Is there not a cause? Is this thing salvageable? What is the application of all this for YOU? (hint, hint, I’m asking for comments)