“You will leave me all alone . . at that point,
all the disciples deserted him and fled.”
John 16:32 – Matthew 26:56
When things got out of control …
at least in terms of outward circumstances and appearances, the testimony of Scripture is that all of the Christ’s followers behaved exactly as Christ had predicted . . they walked away from Easter.
Put yourself in their shoes: if your Messiah could be taken down by one counterfeit disciple and the corrupt religious mafia of the day, maybe you have entrusted yourself to the wrong Messiah. Hands that blessed, healed, forgave sins, calmed storms and raised the dead were no longer big enough . . it was time to take matters in their own hands.
We all do this sooner or later, especially those of us who HAVE DECIDED to put our faith in God, for there will simply come that day, or days if not months and sometimes years, when the storm or the threat or the disease or the devastation is not kept at kept at bay . . by The Deliverer.
You see, like the disciples, those most often who are closest to Christ naturally and supernaturally come to expect “different”, “better” . . we come to expect “more”.
When Christ had first called them to follow, the disciples had one clear thing in common: they were all nobodies – but after spending 3-plus years with the Teacher who proved to be the storm-stopping, water-walking, life-restoring Messiah, they had become a bunch of somebodies – somebodies who began to believe that they had THE rightful inside-track to all-things powerful and protected in the Kingdom of God.
Then came the horror of a crucifixion – their God was suddenly dead on a cross.
Irony of all ironies – the very One who had come to remove their shame . . had become their shame . . and for all intensive appearances . . had become THE iconic symbol of defeat.
Just like the disciples, sooner or later, our expectations fail, we discover God’s ways are different and higher than our own, our dreams and hopes wither . . and our trust evaporates . . and we scatter in any number of directions, taking matters in our own hands, obsessed with fear-fueled self-preservation at the expense of faith-filled devotion.
This is a story about the drift of the soul …
among God’s chosen, including His most elite soldiers . . and the dangerous incursion of idolatry.
For Peter it was the drift from the pinnacle of “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” when he was a nobody . . to the desperate denial “I never knew Him” when he was a somebody . . a somebody who preferred to slither back to nobody status once again.
For David, the future anointed King of Israel, it was the drift from a confident “Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head . . this is the Lord’s battle, and he will give you to us!” when he was a nobody at age 15 . . to the fear-ridden “David got up and ran that day from Saul”, a disastrous event that took place only 7 years later after he had become a somebody . . in fact, too much of a somebody for the overly insecure and mentally deranged King Saul.
The pattern is always the same: faith always stands it’s ground, fear always runs; faith is secure in His hands, fear knows no safety other than in our own.
Perhaps like no generation before …
the “drift of the soul” is THE threat in the 21st century church. We have become so obsessed with cultural relevancy in our expression as local churches, we forgot to avoid becoming enmeshed in our lost culture’s most deadly pot holes . . and like the disciples, have become infatuated with pleasure and power at the expense wanting nothing less than God’s glory to be our “enough”.
The disengagement of the millennial generation in general is THE by-product of a church generation that forgot how to seek first His Kingdom and make disciples . . we have had no time for such a pursuit.
Yes, our world isn’t a safe place, BUT . . in a nutshell, the idolatrous church has chased “pleasures” and “priorities” that can never satisfy . . the same “pleasures” and “priorities” that consume the focus of the lost souls we seek to reach.
You see evidence of this when we become more concerned about protecting our rights, our security and our businesses . . than being lovingly freed up to simply just go ahead and make the flower bouquets and bake the wedding cakes. We wonder why we are so ostracized . . while at the same time singing on Sunday to a Jesus who was a “friend of sinners”.
My questions are many …
in this season where we as a church corporately and personally desperately need revival, but here are the two that top the list:
Have we indeed turned out for the resurrection celebration
while walking away from Easter?
How does God respond when we lose sight of His greatness and power
and take our security and stability in our own hands?
The answer to the first question
in my opinion is simply but forcefully . . “yes”
Here Are 5 Evidences Idolatry Has Infested The Present-Day Church
The Idolatry of Technology Over Time
We created the “vehicle” but forgot to share the road trip – we are more connected yet more lonely than ever. We have drunk deeply from the well of video gaming, social media and digital entertainment, choking out the priority of life-giving relationships and the exercise of hospitality. In a nutshell, we are so wound around medicating our story, we have forgotten to empty ourselves into the life-story of others.
Idolatry of Control Over Calling
The emasculation of men in media and in our homes through “Smother-Mothering” has created a generation of young adults who need “mommy” like a security blanket and young marriages where the wives wear the pants, call the shots and treat their husbands as little more than puppets . . all in the name of empowerment. Even our churches are stuffed with lifeless, passive men who are propped up by wives who have traded purity for prominence and power.
Idolatry Of Isolation Over Maturation
Future generations will look back and label ours as the time when information became God. Like never before, media and the internet have allowed us, as one person stated, “to swim in an ocean of information while drowning in ignorance”. Put differently, millennials have come to believe they pretty much know everything because they can find out something about anything (no matter how accurate or inaccurate it is) on their own. The art of asking questions has disappeared. The value on wisdom (knowing what to do with the knowledge you have) has evaporated. Learning how to be mentored so you can mentor others is but a fantasy from a bygone era.
Idolatry of Hurry
Advances in industry and productivity always leave their mark on the church – for good and for bad. Unfortunately, our churches today have embraced systems over substance. In the name of exponential church growth, we have stopped developing leaders and started cloning metric-driven formulas that put bodies in ministry boxes who lack preparation and accountability. One-on-one discipleship has been replaced by coaching from “leaders” who have over-stuffed lives and can’t remember the last time they fasted, prayed and waited on the Lord.
Idolatry of Tipping Over Tithing
We have forfeited generosity under the “grip for more” both with our time for each other and with our resources. Less than 3% of active church-goers in America tithe their income. As Pastor Robert Morris has rightfully pointed out, we have forfeited the God-anointed blessed life for the bloated life . . a bloated life that only leaves us addicted to more stuff and too broke to know and experience the freedom that is ours in Christ Jesus.
The answer to the second question
is also quite simple but much more encouraging:
we serve a God who redeems and restores.
The Bible repeatedly reveals a God who refuses to stop chasing our soul when we have sold it to worry and fear:
- He called the Moses who had murdered and fled out of the backside of “nowhere”, otherwise called Midian, revealing Himself as the “I Am” who will never stop being at his side.
- He called the Elijah that had succumbed to fear out of cave . . out of that same “nowhere” . . and after unleashing a mighty wind, a violent earthquake and a ferocious fire . . revealed Himself in a whisper that asked “What are you doing here?”
- He called the Peter who failed to follow when it mattered most out of a career retreat and yet another night of miserable fishing at the Sea of Galilee . . and revealed Himself with a three-time repeated question, “Do you love me?” . . and a renewed invitation . . “Follow Me”.
A story is told of a boy …
who built a toy boat and excitedly took it to the nearby lake to sail it after months of painstaking effort to insure it was “sea worthy”. He was thrilled as it sailed perfectly on the water, following it along the shore. Suddenly, the wind took it further than he could reach and eventually completely out of sight.
In utter dejection, he returned home empty-handed.
As the story goes, it would be many months later when he unbelievably saw his prized boat on display in the window of a small local thrift shop. Despite the boy’s explanation and insistent pleading to get his boat back, the shop owner demanded payment. So the boy began to earn the money needed to purchase what was already his and eventually bought back his own boat that had drifted away. He redeemed it.
This is THE MESSAGE of Easter.
While the prophet John was the one to exclaim, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”, is it not interesting that Peter is the disciple who noted, “God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but he has now revealed Him to you in these last days.” (see also Revelation 13:8)
In other words, Peter realized that the cross, the grave and the empty tomb were all part of God’s plan before we were ever created. God, even knowing our souls would run and hide in all the wrong places, initiated the chase to reclaim His own.
Is it not good to news to know that His loving arms can never be thwarted from our meltdowns of the soul . . , you know, those otherwise forgettable moments in all of our lives . . when we walked away from Easter?
Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ
to be holy and without fault in his eyes.
– Ephesian 1:4 –
Humble yourselves before the Lord,
and he will lift you up in honor.
– James 4:10 –
How is God encouraging you today?