So yesterday I was reading my Bible, minding my own business.
Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what such people do secretly; but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light. (Ephesians 5:10-14, NRSV)
Just my reading schedule, some in Kings, some in Proverbs, some in Ephesians. No big deal.
But verse 11 struck me pretty hard. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. It isn’t enough to refuse to take part. The unfruitful works must be exposed.
And Paul isn’t writing about dark works of worldliness. He is writing about unfruitful works of darkness in the church. These instructions are for the church. Paul knows how easy it is to let things slide, and he says to expose them.
Well, I’ve been trying to do that for years and what it has gotten me is a lot of heartache and loss of friends. People in church take their stuff seriously and if you point out that it is unfruitful and possibly even bad, you can lose friends quickly. And I have done.
OK. Moving on to my reading in Grasping the Word of God, a book I’ve been reading in preparation for a podcast I have planned. And a pretty good book too. Section of the day: how to read the Old Testament Prophets.
Five minutes into it and I’m crying. I realize that the Old Testament prophets were called to do exactly what Paul said for Christians to do in Ephesians 5:11 – expose the works of darkness.
What did the prophets get for their trouble? The same thing I always get for my trouble. Lots of heartache and loss of friends.
For the last couple years I’ve been coasting. I stopped blogging because I get in trouble with my blog posts. People think I’m overreacting. People think I’m on a hobby horse.
But yesterday I sensed that God was telling me to get back on the horse and ride, come what may. I’m calling it “Postmodern Prophet”.
Please do not interpret that to mean that I think I’m inspired. I’m not inspired in any special way and don’t claim to speak in the voice of God. I’m going to get some things wrong and some things right. I have developed a little more humility recently. No one who interprets the Bible without some level of humility is worth listening to.
I have more questions than answers. When I see problems, I’m going to point toward them. If I see a potential solution or two, I’ll probably mention them.
All I want is for God’s church — the church of Jesus — to survive this strange postmodern era we find ourselves unhappily inhabiting. I care not a fig for the institutional church or for the ABCs — attendance, buildings, and cash. I care about the church itself.
The church is God’s people together. It doesn’t have to be organized, though I suppose there is nothing wrong with organization. But what it does need to be is loving: loving God in Jesus the Messiah, loving one another, and loving others. Without any of those three, it is something less than the church.
So here I go, Lord give me strength. I am going reluctantly.