The Fading Light

Nov. 10, 2021.

Through the centuries, the gospel has had ups and downs. At times the light has burned bright as the noonday sun, only to be followed by a time when it faded to a flicker. The gospel in the West is experiencing one of those latter chapters. What do we as Christian leaders do about it?

#JesusStories: Jesus once said that no one lights a lamp and then puts it under a clay pot or hides it under a bed. He went on to say that if someone is going to light a lamp, they put it on a lamp stand so it illuminates the room. (Mark 4:21). His point is obvious: the gospel is intended to be lifted up, so it will maximize its ability to light up a darkened world. But, throughout church history humanity has tried to blunt that light. Within months after Jesus’ resurrection, religious leaders unleashed a wave of persecution to put out the light. Soon Rome mounted a brutal persecution because they felt Christianity was a threat to the sovereignty of Caesar. Then it was internal groups, frightened by the persecutions that arose to find middle-ground by reducing the divinity of Christ and turn Christianity into a mere moral compass. This is visible in the book of Jude. Thankfully, these gnostic efforts were not effective as the gospel swelled from a movement of hundreds to a movement of 40 million in the first three centuries. We actually owe a debt of gratitude to the early liturgists who pulled the divinity of the gospels to exclusive places in order to preserve it from the heresy’s of the day. This was the birth place of the liturgical church that protected the mysteries of the faith and gave us things like the Nicene Creed. Given that, find a liturgical leader near you, hug them, and thank them for their efforts to preserve the wonders of gospel for us.

Such efforts to lessen the glow of the gospel have continued throughout the life of the Church. In our day waves of atheism (no god), agnosticism (don’t know and don’t care), and syncretism (merge all notions of god) abound. And these ideas chip away at the flame of the gospel in arising generations. Even within the church, things like the church growth movement which began as a soul-winning effort degenerated into Christian consumerism. And now many congregations are fading.

While the church in the West has a sociological problem, our gospel is still very fiery. Yes there is missiological work to be done on our ways of doing church, but still Christian leaders must set our foreheads like flint to keep the gospel on high places – by retelling the stories of Jesus anytime we can find hearers. Why? Because we are still called to dispel the darkness and the gospel of Jesus still flames up every time we speak it. So, set a table, gather your isolated neighbors, eat together, tell the stories, and watch the gospel burn.

#DinnerChurchQuotes: “Thomas Edison, after spending countless days working to develop the lightbulb, handed it to a little boy to carry up the stairs. That little boy tripped and dropped the lightbulb. It took a team of 20 people another 20 hours to build another one, which Thomas Edison handed that second lightbulb to the same little boy to take up stairs again.” (John Bishop)

#PracticalStuff: We must trust our people to carry the light of the gospel. Whether the retelling of up front Jesus Stories or at tables, this is where our power is in dispelling darkness and lighting up the room. What do you think about asking someone to tell the next Jesus Story that is a reach? Maybe consider interview style for those who don’t have good communication gifts?

Blessings & Boldness,

Verlon

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