by: Rev. Ed Schneider
One night, not too long ago, as I was laying in bed, I couldn’t turn my brain off as I attempted to relax enough to fall asleep. I kept physically turning over trying to find a comfortable position and couldn’t seem to find one. I got up and began to wander around my house. As I walked around my for the better part of an hour I finally landed in the corner of the living room in a soft chair. I sat down and began to pray about what was at the core of my thoughts, an overwhelming and growing reality of local churches, their pastoral leadership, and the larger denominational affiliations they are connected to. Something is very wrong with far too many expressions of Christianity and I was tired of pretending there wasn’t any longer.
As a pastor, theologian and teacher for most of my adult life I have found that if I write down my observations and their emotional reactions it allows me to move through the discerning process with clarity, and by doing so, having a better opportunity to hear the voice of God as it directs my path.
The following letter was what I wrote that night and what has prompted the development of this book. I pray this work of faithful obedience touches those who are not only wondering the same things that I am but also gives both practical advice and inspiration to get out of the mess I believe the greater Christian church finds itself.
I hope I am not bothering you but I thought I would take just a few minutes to talk with you about some things that have been weighing on my mind recently.
Each day I observe throughout a wide variety of broadcast or printed media reporting on current wars and rumors of potential wars all over the earth. This is not only sad and disturbing, it is also frightening. O God, if the reports of so many wars being fought weren’t enough, I also see a long list of other terrible and outrageous displays of disgusting behavior permeating every section of every culture.
It seems as though indiscriminate violence against women, rampant greed, intentional starvation of your created people, cruelty, malice, a plethora of sexual deviants using every method imaginable to victimize children, and an overt lack of personal responsibility and kindness toward each other is all around me.
My God and My Heavenly Father! Why does it seem that personal integrity, common courtesy, and respect for differing kinds of people and culture are on such a downward slide? I know I shouldn’t feel this way but it seems almost incomprehensible whether the before mentioned personality traits will ever return to social prominence.
Again, Lord, I know you are really busy doing all that “God stuff” you do everyday but these and other worrisome circumstances are starting to overwhelm me. I am beginning to wonder either you have been on a self-imposed vacation. or “the church” and its “leadership” have been on a dark journey of apostasy, irresponsibility, and sophomoric self-centeredness.
Since it is inconceivable to me that you are on some Divine sabbatical I must draw the conclusion that the conditions described above, although endemically part of the overall human makeup, are greatly enhanced through a wayward and ineffective church population.
The question comes to mind,
“Why has the general church population in no small way devalued its own missional charge to the point that it no longer is willing to do what it says it believes in?”
This church, this body of faithful believers, in who and what you claim to be, are called to boldly and intentionally share with the world around them a message of love and transformational empowerment. They were to be made up of a profound gathering of likeminded souls for the purpose of proclaiming how real and attainable you are. Unfortunately God, for the most part, they seem more interested in themselves than others.
Dear God, your church…every part of it….every corner of every room in every city, village, town or living room needs your help. It needs you to boldly show up and reignite that which has fallen silent when it should be shouting from the roof tops. Your church and all of its professed followers have gotten lazy and ineffective as it relates to standing in the gap between good and evil. They will on occasion say the right things but seldom stand up and do the right things. Since I am fully aware of how great you are and how awesome your ability is to transcend “the now” into a bright and powerful future, I just thought I would ask you to do whatever it is you do and get your people back on the path they are supposed to be traveling.
In my life I have seen you perform miracle after miracle. I have personally witnessed you interact in untenable situations and turn them into a bright and shining example of success. Lord, I know without question when you decide to move, when you decide enough is enough, that life as we know it changes. It changes for the better. It changes in a way that can be only explained through your personal intervention in the course of human events. I know that is exactly what is needed right now because humanity continue to mess things up over and over again. There seems no other way out of these types of traumatic cultural negatives except you must intentionally move into action.
Some may read this and come to the conclusion that I have lost my faith. I say, “No!” What I have lost is any hope of humanity accomplishing anything of real and sustainable goodness that will last beyond their own lifetime. Because of this sense of ultimate human inadequacies, and because of a life filled with strong evidence of authenticity of who and what you are, I am absolutely sure you can make a difference.
You can change the hearts and minds of those who have fallen away. You can alter violence into peace. You can transform minds, situations, and cultural conditions so that the cloud of confusion between right and wrong can be clearly seen. You can change families in conflict. You can change health concerns. You can change hopelessness into blessed assurance. You can even take a cold non-effective church and revive it. Revive your church so it can be what you intended it to be; a shining city on a hill not some place to hide and cower inside.
Dear God, I have hope in you and in who you say you are. I have hope that with even a spark of Divine encouragement others can be reinvigorated and re-energize to reinvest themselves into the honorable, loving, ethical, bold, powerful, and transforming church you called it to be. Thanks God for listening.
Your Friend in Christ Jesus