-by Rev. Jeff Gannon
The primary threat to the practice of Christianity today is not secularity. The primary threat to the practice of Christianity is the practice of Christianity. As the great Jewish scholar Abraham Joshua Heschel said in his book, “God in Search of Man,” …. “It is customary to blame secular science and anti-religious philosophy for the eclipse of religion in modern society. It would be more honest to blame religion for its own defeats. Religion declined not because it was refuted, but because it became irrelevant, dull, oppressive, and insipid….when faith becomes an heirloom rather than a living fountain; when religion speaks only in the name of authority rather than the voice of compassion – its message becomes meaningless.” Therefore, I think Dr. Campolo has an important for us. Let’s be the Church of Jesus Christ, no matter who we are, where we are! It reveals the God we know most personally and poignantly in the person of Jesus, the Christ.
From Dr. Tony Campolo……….
In short, there’s a little phrase: WWJD. In any given existential situation, you have to ask yourself, what would Jesus do if he were in my place? What would Jesus do if he were facing the circumstances that I am facing? To act as Jesus would in your situation. You say I’m not sure I can do that. Here’s the good news. Jesus didn’t just die on the cross to take the punishment for your sins, he will invade your life, if you invite him, and he will empower you to do what he would do if he were in your situation. You’re able to say with God, with Christ, all things are possible. I can live out the life that Jesus would live if he were in my place.
One time I was in Farmington, New Mexico. I was waiting for a little commuter plane to come and pick me up and take me back to the main city, Denver, where I’d catch the big plane. And I’m waiting there, and there are about eight of us in this little tiny terminal, and I saw this elderly woman, really old lady, and she had a mean look on her face. I didn’t have anything else to do so I went over and sat next to her. And I was determined to make her smile. And I started pulling out some jokes and humor, and I did get her to smile. I not only got her to smile, I got her to laugh. When I got her laughing, the other eight guys in this little terminal, gathered around and we all worked on this little old lady. And we had her laughing harder and harder and harder, and finally she said “Stop, please stop, I’m an old lady. I’m laughing too hard. You have no idea what’s going to happen!” The airplane landed, her friend got off the plane, she greeted her friend, she left, she waved us goodbye. I’m waiting for us to be called through the metal detector, I looked out the glass doors, and there was her car coming up the drive again. This elderly woman shuffled back into the terminal, came up to me and said, “Mister, you could not have known this. It was two years ago today that my husband of 64 years died. You didn’t know that. But I was on my way home when I realized that today was the first day since then that I’ve been able to laugh, and I had to come back and say thank you.” No big deal, no big deal, just making a little old lady laugh. You say, what is that? Jesus said that we would do greater things because he goes to the Father. Let me ask you, if Jesus had a choice between walking on water and getting a brokenhearted old lady to laugh again, which do you think he would call the greater thing? I ask you quite simply, it’s not with the swords, loud clashing, not with the sound of beating drums but with simple acts of kindness, the heavenly kingdom comes. Christ, what he would do. That’s what you should be asking yourself.
Marilynne Robinson, a novelist, and a deeply devoted follower of Jesus, said recently, “The drop off in church attendance is very much our own fault because, far too often, we are not radiating a church with a compassionate embrace and we are not, in fact, addressing the real energies that are burning inside people.”
A prominent pastor of a large Evangelical Church said it this way, “As Christian churches, we have the living water, the water Christ promised would quench all fires and all thirsts. But this is the problem: we aren’t getting the living water to where the fires are! Instead, we are spraying water everywhere, except where it’s burning!”
The answer, my friends, to the mass exodus from our churches, is not to blame the culture but to be the Church in all times and in all places so that as Christ is lifted up in compassion and care, all will come to adore his sacred Name.