Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Church of the Dead Sea

(Here is another interesting article by Dave Daubenmire posted on the 7/25/07 News With Views mailing alert regarding an observation about the "christians" of today here in the United States. Click the link above in the title of this post to get the full article or past articles written by Mr. Daubenmire. After reading the article, ask yourself this question; "Are you a member in The Church of the Dead Sea, or are you dispensing the living water?")

I was sitting in the balcony at church the other night. It really gives you a different view of the congregation. As is usually the case, the Word that came forth out of the pulpit was rich and uncompromising. That is why I like to go, to feast on the Word. It gives new meaning to the word buffet.

But being above the sheep sitting in the pew gives one a different perspective. As I listened to the sermon I allowed my eyes to cascade across the crowd. As is usually the case, I tend to see things a little differently. Rather than seeing hearts stirred by the Word of God and the exhortation of the pastor to more fully live-out one’s faith, I had another image flash through my mind.

“They’re grazing,” I said to myself. “Look at all the folks in the pew. They are like sheep just grazing on the Word.” Three times a week they show up to gorge on the “meat” of the Word. I don’t blame them. The food is good, it feeds the Spirit, it sustains us in tough times. But in a sense it is nothing more than spiritual-welfare.

As I surveyed the crowd I was struck with the realization that most Christians, even in good Bible-teaching churches, are over-stuffed. You know the feeling, the laziness that always follows a good meal and the desire to sit in an easy-chair and snooze. That is what is happening in our churches. Christians are sitting in the pew, occasionally raising a hand in agreement with the Word, crying out, "Amen" to the pastor much the way a sheep “baaa’s,” and slowly chewing on the meat that is being served. When the service is over, they go home, lie on the couch, chew on the cud, and bide their time for their next opportunity to go to church and eat.

They don’t understand that the purpose of the meal was to give them nourishment for the battle. The battle for souls is raging and most church-goers are too content to merely feast, oblivious to their role in advancing the Kingdom.

But just as the world is fighting the ‘battle of the bulge” from over-eating at the buffet, so too, is the church weighted down by spiritual fat. Although we often like to blame our weight-gain on a “gland” problem, or “trouble with our knees,” the truth is we get overweight because we eat more calories than we burn off. Being overweight makes us sedentary, lazy, and stagnant. I call it the “Dead Sea Effect.”

Have you ever read much about The Dead Sea? It is fascinating study. Let me save you some time and give you a quick over-view of what I have learned.
1. The Dead Sea is the lowest elevation on earth.
2. It is 1083 feet deep.
3. It is the world’s 2nd saltiest body of water.
4. The salt content is 30% ….nearly 9 times saltier than the oceans.
5. In Hebrew the Dead Sea is called the Yam ha-Melakh, meaning "sea of salt," or Yam ha-Mavet, "sea of death."
6. The sea is called "dead" because its high salinity means no macroscopic aquatic organisms such as fish or water plants can live in it.
7. Because of its unusually high concentration of salt, anyone can easily float in the Dead Sea.
8. The Dead Sea area has become a major center for health research.

All of that is fascinating, but the real reason that the Dead Sea is dead, at least in my opinion, is the same reason most churches and Christians are dead.

The Dead Sea is dead because although there is plenty of water flowing in, there is nothing flowing out. The Dead Sea can not sustain life because there is no outlet and that creates a stagnant body of water.

That’s what I saw as I looked over the crowd that night, stagnant Christians, living a stagnant Christianity, caused not by a lack of intake, but by a lack of outflow.

Think I’m nuts? What would happen to you if you went to a huge buffet and gorged yourself on all the fixins, only to have an onslaught of constipation hit you in the next couple of days? I promise you, your body would begin to stagnate. Life flows.

As I sat in the balcony over-looking the “Dead Sea Church” another irony hit me. The Dead Sea is full of salt. Jesus said WE were salt. The Dead Sea is useless because of stagnant salt. Has the salt, sitting in the church, become stagnant and “good for nothing?”

I’m sure many of you are offended by now. That is what so many of us do when challenged in our faith. We get bitter instead of better. We can’t figure out why our churches aren’t full of new fish. We haven’t yet come to the realization that nothing lives in the Dead Sea. And what is the Dead Sea? It is a reservoir full of salt, where much flows in but nothing flows out. Without a steady outflow any fish who do make it into the sea will eventually stagnate and die. Is your Christianity living?

So what is your spiritual outflow? Most Christians are so self-absorbed and so focused on being “fed” that they have ignored the outflow, “the GO,” if you will, of this experience we called Christianity. Let’s face facts. Jesus told us to “Come unto me” (inflow) and then Go Ye (outflow). If we merely “eat” of the Word without the “exercise” of its application, we are sure to become fat, stagnant and eventually dead.

John 7:38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.

Oh, that more of us would spend our lives dispensing fountains of “living water” rather than floating in the Dead Sea.

Ask yourself this about the church you attend: If a fire were to consume the building that you call your “church,” would the impact of the fire be felt in your community? With the exception of those who come there to “eat,” would anybody in the community suffer because the building was no longer there?

Are you a member in The Church of the Dead Sea, or are you dispensing the living water?

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Blogger Jerry Bouey said...

Brother Jim, this was a really great article. It is interesting - my pastor touched down on this recently (though the author goes here into more detail in the application of this theme). Thank you for posting this hard-hitting article.

9:35 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

Bro. Jerry,

Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment... we do need more "salty" Christians out in the world today!!!

7:43 AM  
Blogger Julie's Jewels said...

As I began reading this post I was thinking that you were going to touch on those people who sit in the pews with absolutely no interest in what is being said. I know that when I had to sit in the back of the tabernacle at the June Campmeeting I noticed just how many people are not paying attention to the preaching. They are playing, talking, writing notes or drawing, and I saw one (adult mind you) who was dozing. How sad is that. But you touched on an totally different light. I love what this post brought out and it is very true. Even in my own life at times. May God help us to not be like those that come in and feed then go out lazy from being so full!!

1:04 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

Sis. Julie,

You touched upon another group of people found in our churches... two were mentioned in the article, but there is also the group you mentioned, who are there in body only, and get nothing from the Word of God as it is preached.. a closed spirit, and possibly a deceived "christian" altogether!!!

7:11 PM  

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