Monday, April 7, 2014

New Life from Dry Bones

The life seems to have gone out of the Body of Christ. The Body of Christ looks as if it’s dying. It’s as if it’s gasping for breath and no one’s coming with a resuscitator.
Could these prophetic words God gave to Ezekiel be for us today? Instead of prophesying to the people of Israel who were in exile in Babylon could these words be for the people of Walnut, Iowa? Could they be words of hope instead of words of death?
God’s Spirit carried Ezekiel to the middle of a valley filled with dry bones. He asked him is he thought these bones could be living people again. Ezekiel knew that only God could answer that question.
So, to get back to my first question, “If the Body of Christ, the Church, is dying or maybe dead in some cases, is it possible to bring it back to life?” Like Ezekiel I say, “Only God knows.”
These are hard questions to answer. It takes faith to believe that these bones can live again. And, I believe, it takes something more than faith.
Faith is first and then the church needs to pray. It needs to go again to God’s word, read it and study it and discuss it. And then let the roots go deep into Christ; build lives on him and then…faith will grow strong in the truth of the Lord and overflow with thankfulness.
That’s what Paul wrote to the church in Colossae. He knew they were struggling. They were surrounded by the things of the world, the temptations of riches, other voices suggesting living differently than the Church taught. Thinking only of themselves, turning their backs on their neighbors who were struggling.
Paul said, “Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.” They, and we, were to put to death all the sinful, earthly things lurking inside them…and us. Death to our old nature and in their place put on tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for our neighbor’s faults and forgive anyone who offends us.
So, why is the Body of Christ dying? There are some who would say it’s because the young families are coming to worship. Maybe it’s more likely that the Body of Christ isn’t thinking about the things of heaven but the things of earth. Maybe the old nature has been resurrected and mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience have been forgotten. Maybe the Church has forgotten how important it is to teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom God has given them.
God through Ezekiel, and Paul, gave the people a message of hope that they would live again. He could, and would put new life in their old bones. The bones would rise again from the earth and they would be filled with the Spirit of the Lord.
Is there hope for us in this message? I believe there is if we have ears to hear the message of hope and love coming to us from God. First and foremost we need to come and get on our knees and ask for forgiveness because we’ve sinned and given up. And then we need to take on the yoke of Jesus, again, and learn from him.
Then, life will again enter these old, dry bones. Then, the Spirit will breathe the breath of life into the Body of Christ. Then, through faith the Body of Christ will rise again.
As Paul said, “Devote yourself to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart…Live wisely among those who aren’t believers and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.” “After you’ve read this letter, pass it on.”
The Body of Christ isn’t dying. There is breathe in it yet. Some of the parts of the Body may not be working as well as they used to but through prayer, study, and faith it will continue to do God’s work in the world.

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