. . . posts on faith and life
The church is sick. The illness is very serious, perhaps even terminal. We tend to want to hear a prognosis from the Lord. In this we think we will be able to decide the fate of our future. However, while we are waiting on the Lord, the Lord is waiting on us. He is waiting to see how we will respond to the sickness. It’s our response that will actually determine the prognosis, and in turn determine our future.
In 1999 my former pastor had a dream. He eventually shared the general contents of the dream in a sermon entitled “Mockery or Mercy.” In the dream he was in a large meeting with other CoG ministers. While waiting for the meeting to begin he noticed that on the stage was a long folding table that looked like it was set up for a panel discussion. The meeting began when some men assisted the speaker out on to the stage. My pastor recognized the man as the General Overseer of the CoG, and new that he really represented the church as a whole. The General Overseer was wearing a hospital gown, and was obviously weak. When he was finally seated at the table he was exposed underneath the table and everyone could see this quite clearly. A lot of people were looking around trying to figure out what to do. My pastor was in a near panic himself. Then he heard a commotion over to his left. As he looked he saw that there was a group of ministers wearing these crazy hats. And they were standing there pointing at what everyone had noticed. They were laughing and making jokes about it. My pastor looked around to see if anyone was going to do anything to help the situation on the stage. But no one seemed to know what to do. Then he woke up.
My pastor was so disturbed by the vivid contents of the dream that his first response was a deep burden for the CoG. He felt like the Lord had showed him that it was deeply ill. Eventually the Lord settled him in his spirit and spoke in his heart that the key point of the dream was not on the stage, but in the audience–that it had to do with the ministers with the “crazy hats.” From this the Lord spoke a word into his heart that the church was sick, but that the Lord was waiting to see if we would respond with mockery or mercy.
There’s a story in Genesis 9 about Noah getting drunk and passing out naked in his tent. Ham discovered his father, and went and told his brothers about it. However, the two brothers, Shem and Japheth, walked into the tent backwards without looking upon the nakedness of their father and covered him. This brought a curse on Ham’s life, and a blessings on the lives of his two brothers. In II Kings 2:23-24 we are told that children came out of the city and mocked Elisha. They told him to “go on up” like his mentor had done and called him a “bald head” (a form of nakedness). This brought down a curse on them that had very swift consequences. Forty two children were mauled by two bears that came out of the woods. The Hebrew Bible is filled with this theme, that younger ones should cover (honor) their elders, and that it will bring a blessing to their lives. But if they mock and expose (dishonor) them it will bring a curse upon their lives. It pervades the whole Old Testament, which ends with these words, “Behold I will send my prophet Elijah…and he will turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse” (Malachi 4:5-6).
Everyone has nakedness–weaknesses about which they are ashamed. Often others see our nakedness more clearly than we do. Chances are that you feel comfortable that you are not a mocker. You consider yourself to be merciful in your response to the nakedness of the church. You consider your words to not be uncovering. But I challenge you to take a moment right now and ask the Lord what he thinks. Ask Him to show you if He considers your responses to be mockery or mercy. Your response just might determine our future.