Friday, November 25, 2011

Crisis Christianity - Tres

This is the third in this series. If you're just finding these posts, scroll down to the first one - uno - and read it, then dos before this one. Makes more sense that way, I think.

Just to be redundant I'll say again that every Christian goes through crises in life. When you trusted Jesus as Savior you were indwelt by the Holy Spirit, not to save you from crisis but to lead and if necessary, carry you through it. David's Shepherd Psalm spoke of the "valley of the shadow of death" - a crisis.

Not only has God permanently placed His Spirit within us, He has also placed us within His body, the church. I've written (and spoken) extensively on the role of the church in the life of the believer, so I won't belabor that here. But one reason for the church is for there to be surrounded and engulfed in others who will be the hands, feet, ears and voice of God in our lives, including times of crisis.

God never planned for any Christian to survive life in this world apart from the church relationship. That's clear as crystal in the Scriptures. Apart from a healthy relationship in a healthy church we're easy prey for the enemy of Christ and His church. It's like living outside the walls of the fortress during a siege. It's not a safe place to be.

Yet, so often over the years I have grimaced as I've watched brothers and sisters - partners in my church family - deal with crisis alone. Usually it's after the storm has passed and the damage has been severe that I learn of the struggle. The damage has been done and the recovery will be long and difficult...a recovery that perhaps could have been avoided completely had the believer simply put down his/her pride and called out for help.

Here's an example. One of our elders will get a phone call that one of our church partners is about to have their electricity turned off tomorrow. Tomorrow. I know enough, having dealt with these kinds of situations to know that if tomorrow is D-day it's because the bill hasn't been paid in a couple months. That means the crisis has been going on for 90 days or more. Yet, nothing is discovered until it has gotten "out of hand".

Why? PRIDE. And guess what, the Bible tells us more than once that pride is sin - something that separates us from our vertical relationship with God and our horizontal relationships with His sheep.

It might not be a financial crisis. It could be marital, parental, career, physical...I've actually found out about surgeries after the fact! How can we serve, reach out, give or even pray if we're kept in the dark about your crisis?

If the smoke detector in my house begins to sound an alarm I need to act immediately. There's no snooze button on those things. And if I fail to respond at the first smell of smoke, it might not be long before I'm consumed in the flame. In the same way, at the first sign of personal or family crisis, don't hope it will correct itself. Don't pretend it isn't there. God wants to intervene and His plan of action is to use His children to respond.

Give Him a chance before the crisis wrecks your life. See pride for what it is. Know that there are no perfect people in the church and that there is someone who has been through that same tribulation who can walk with you through it. Be honest and transparent. Connect with a small group and nurture those relationships.

That next crisis might begin to show itself today. Be ready. You don't have to handle it alone and it doesn't have to ruin your life.

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