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System Reboot

The Southern Baptist Convention just booted several prominent churches from their denomination because of their allowance of women pastors and preachers. “Shiny Happy People”, the documentary giving an inside look into the Duggar Family and the harmful practices of the Institute in Basic Life Principles, is streaming on Amazon Prime and it currently has a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. More churches and worship leaders are rethinking singing music from Hillsong and Bethel because of scandals and controversy surrounding their ministries. 

Folks are leaving churches in unprecedented percentages and yet, there are still leaders in institutions who blame external culture rather than having an internal audit of their own. Some remain combative to those with legitimate concerns, ready to argue down every point to prove their rightness. Some refuse to empathize, and engage with the hurting and legitimately confused. It’s baffling. It’s stifling. It’s disheartening. I find myself frustrated by the apathy, saddened by the ignorance, discouraged by the pride. In the midst of it all, I've found myself grounded in a few things: Though God’s justice seems slow, it will prevail, prayer DOES change things and God is still at work. 

  1. Don’t mistake God’s kindness for apathy. 

I’ve joined in a few conversations about the God of the Old Testament versus the God of the New Testament. They usually identify God as wrathful in the Old and loving and kind in the New, attributing the outcome of Sodom and Gomorrah to his anger rather than his dealing with the injustices there. We can paint a picture of Jesus in the New Testament, his kindness to others and self-sacrifice, as separate and distant from the God of the Old Testament but they’re the same. I can’t reconcile every action in the Bible, by God or humanity and I won’t understand everything, regardless of how hard I try. Sidenote: This isn’t an invitation to stay ignorant but rather to stay humble and keep learning. That said, there are many mentions of God’s patience with humanity in both the Old and New Testaments.

The Lord is gracious and compassionate,  slow to anger and rich in love.

The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. (Ps. 145:8-9)

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Pet. 3:9)

Rend your heart and not your garments.

Return to the Lord your God,for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. (Joel 2:13)

We must give space for God to move on hearts, and turn them toward him (see the book of Jonah). And though God is kind and patient it doesn’t mean injustice will be overlooked, it just means he's giving people time to humble themselves and repent.  We also must remember that all injustices will be righted in the end as well. 

2. Pray ALAIT 

When I served in India a few years ago, there was an injustice happening in one of the foster style homes but not the one I was serving in. I was really upset about it because of the effects it was having on others. One night I had a vivid dream that felt like an answer to a question I wasn’t asking. I wasn’t looking for guidance or seeking permission to right the wrong. I was in, “something WILL be done about this” mode but God met me before I took justice in my own hands. 

After reaching out to a friend who has a gift of interpreting dreams, it was confirmed I should support my friend who was in the home and the organization as a whole primarily through prayer. It was hard because the situation was being overlooked by people who should’ve been paying attention. But God knew about it. I obeyed and I saw the situation change within a matter of months. I know not every situation changes in such a quick time frame and not every situation calls for you to limit action BUT every situation does call for prayer. Remember the persistent widow? She received justice because of her persistence. Jesus likened that story to how we should pray and not give up.

Pray without ceasing, with all kinds of prayer, or as my church puts it - We pray ALAIT—-As Long As It Takes. 

3. God is still at work

Having been a part of several churches throughout the years, I’ve experienced my fair share of dysfunctional leadership, abusive practices and blatant ignorance. Many friends and family have stepped away from the institution of church (though in most cases, their faith has remained). I’ve been asked, with genuine curiosity, how I’m still a part of a traditional church. There are a few reasons, but the most relevant is a choice in perspective. I still see God working in local church bodies. I’m not ignorant, still pretty skeptical but I try to maintain an open heart.

There are a lot of disheartening things happening in the church, and because our society feeds on negative news, we have to work that much harder to guard our hearts and remember God is still present and still at work.  I wholeheartedly believe the American Church Institution could use a system reboot, in the meantime, I challenge myself and you to trust God with injustice, pray for justice and lookout for ways he is still at work.

Photo by Daniel Tseng on Unsplash


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