Saturday, October 16, 2010

San Jose Mine, Chile

Sixty-nine days ago, thirty-three miners were trapped almost one half mile underground in San Jose, Chile. For over two weeks no one even knew if they have survived the collapse, and when it was discovered that they were alive, their rescue was unsure. But people from all different walks of life and many different vocations came together, forged a plan, and today these men have been lifted to safety. It is a miracle.

The rescuers spared no expense, they eschewed personal comfort, and they worked long and hard hours to bring these men “back to life” as it were. As I watched some of the live coverage I experienced some emotion as one by one these men were reunited with their families.

What would happen if the church operated in like fashion? What impact would we have on our communities if churches were consumed with one colossal endeavor, to bring lost sinners to the life found in Jesus Christ? It might require a sacrifice of our entertainment, recreation, and our many vices. It would require a cooperation and a brotherhood that overcame differences and idiosyncrasies, and a passionate pursuit of Him and His ministry. It would necessitate a faith in eternity that dramatically and observably affected every single aspect of our earthly lives.

It would require a love for lost sinners that was so intense and so deep that we counted our own lives as nothing in comparison. The gospel message would become so paramount that we were unwilling to spend such obscene amounts of interest money on comfortable buildings, large staff salaries, and all kinds of religious activities designed to attract new members as well as keep the ones we already have contented, or at least pacified. We would gather for times of worship and prayer many times during the week, not just the redundant oblation observed on Sunday mornings.

And if there was a collective passion to serve the Risen Christ and have the power of the Spirit direct and permeate the entire gamut of all our ministries, the communities in which we live could not remain indifferent. And what did we witness in Chile as each miner was raised in rescue? The government had orchestrated a glorious welcome, and a brief history of each man’s life was rehearsed as they were brought to safety. No one around that tunnel was looking at their watches or had a roast in the oven. Everyone was consumed with the task at hand, and the atmosphere was electric. No expense was spared and emotions were overflowing. And yet in an average baptismal service in church a smattering of applause is acceptable, and after the baptisms the crowd is dismissed to drive to wherever they have planned to eat.

Of course many will be sure to eat quickly enough to get into some comfortable clothes and watch whatever sports are in season. The entire narrative undermines the enormity of the gospel message and relegates the practice of Christianity to a redundant and powerless exercise that bears no resemblance to the Book of Acts or the life of Jesus. And in the midst of all of it lines are drawn between believers, furthering the perception that we are more interested in our ecclesiastical cliques than we are about the Father’s business.

I rejoiced as I watched those miners being rescued. But my heart grieved as I realized how powerless we are in the western church. The only answer is a revival that strips us of our earthly eyes and opens our hearts to the things of Christ in a way that transforms us with such force that our entire lives are completely refashioned. And like the Chilean mine rescue, perhaps the world might take notice. Until that happens the church remains a nice and tidy part of the culture that passes on their innocuous religion from generation to generation. Sleep tight…

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