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Saturday, June 2, 2012

When the World Sparkles Enough That It Blinds, the Kingdom Fades to Gray.

One of the hardest, and sometimes most heart-breaking, experiences I've had in ministry, whether as a counselor or church leader has been when someone I have a relationship or am working with seems to gradually cool to Christ and his brilliant Kingdom mission. He or she quietly slips away, yielding a part or all of their heart to lesser joys and pastimes.

Over the years, I've come to understand unless what people pursue is disturbingly sinful to those who love them (abuse of drugs or alcohol, risky sexual habits, destructive irresponsibility such as not being able to hold a job because of willful immaturity, etc.), their progressing blindness often appears benign on the surface: a promising new relationship takes center stage, the long-sought-after job or career path opens and consumes the best of who they are, or family becomes the main source of life and well-being, for instance. Nobody's going off the deep end; they're just wandering away slowly because they can't see the Kingdom as their most compelling way of life

The central issue for me gathers around what the heart prefers as it's deepest longing and loyalty, pleasure and joy, meaning and purpose. We have the freedom to give our hearts to what is good or what is evil. All of us do this all of the time to varying degrees depending on how much we've embraced with conviction God's summons to holiness:  " . . . you shall be holy because I am holy." (1Peter 1:16) . He holds out this summons 24/7 if you're a Christ-follower. We move toward and away from this summons, but by the amazing grace of God, through steps forward and steps back over years, our spiritual momentum is toward him and what he cares for.

Nonetheless, I've heard people who eventually lost sight of the way say the whole Christian thing was too hard; they just couldn't be good enough.

I've known others who when confronted with their love of certain sins, and the need to turn aside from them, decided the price was too great.

A few took care of the salvation deal (yes, I believe), then lived as they pleased, confident that the salvation endgame was won; no need to go overboard with the religious stuff.

A scarier group of folks knew that they were rejecting Christ and didn't care. In fact, they became convinced it was all a load of baloney. They took the high ground of enlightened understanding, little aware they had lost the means to see reality.

So painful to me was the reality these folks were being given the opportunity to be loved, healed, and freed, but they kept looking elsewhere. Their blindness was gradual but insidious. 

I know the Scripture warns frequently about the terrifying dangers of falling away. Such knowledge sobers me. But I have a sadness for those who could not grasp the exquisite beauty of God, and his grace-drenched Kingdom. How tragic is the reality that some who are summoned say "no thanks," I like this stuff better. What a loss of potential for the Kingdom mission they were invited to.

How is it LOVE can be shoved aside for love? I get it that we can choose soul poison or medicine, but the stakes are astonishing. This world's sparkling unto blindness kills; the Kingdom faded gray is the ultimate of lies.

I think we Christians do not do anywhere near enough to reveal the brilliant shine of the freeing Kingdom reign and rule of God through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We settle for ho-hum in our church cultures;. the routine is safe and manageable. Who among expects miracles? We think the power of God is for maintaining the mundane, not rolling away the stones from tombs.

I have to say, I've had the most disappointing experience of watching young believer's being slowly spiritually blinded by a cultural Christendom so boring, superficial and insular that they became convinced it was a feckless sham. Conversely, this world lures them constantly with endless promises of excitement, intense feeling, a steady diet of pleasure, and the promise of a good life (on their terms) free from anything that fetters you doing what you want, when you want, and how you want. It's dreck with a hidden death sentence.

When we all decide to follow Jesus at all costs into this jangly, sparkly world to manifest the brilliantly shining beauty of simple grace and the resurrecting power of love, I know the color of true life will return and dazzle those still able to see it.

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