On memorial day, my friend Cindy and I hopped into her car during the wee hours of the morning and traveled to Beaufort, South Carolina. While I must say that we didn't find much to do there, we did stumble upon some old remains of a church, known as Sheldon Church.
Take a look at this inscription:
Except for a crumbling shell, nothing remains of this church. The only sign of life is the grass growing in, and around it, and the occasional visitors who wander the grounds.
As I lingered among the ruins, examining the devastation that befell this church, a verse came to mind.
"And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it."
I know, the church Jesus speaks of is not a building, but rather a body of believers. The Greek word, Ekklesia, which means "called out, to call out," carries the meaning and idea of a gathering or assembly, even a body of people officially called together. The group of people summoned on this earth for the Kingdom of God is the church. What a comfort to know that despite the various forces that wage war against the Church, it will endure--not just because it's built on a rock, but because Jesus Christ built it.
I recently completed David's Platt's book, Radical. After reading his book and reflecting on some of his points, I can't help but wonder if the American church might look a bit like the ruins of this once-thriving chapel. Have we, as Americans, become more entangled with our daily lives than with the kingdom of God? Have we mistaken the fact that the church is here to serve us rather than the fact that, we the church are here to serve others? Most importantly, have we started to view sharing Jesus as an opportunity instead of a priority?
When one glances over the book of Acts and reads about the early church, it almost seems as though the American church today is vastly different from the church penned by the ancient historian. While the church is thriving around the world, here in the States it resembles the remnants of Sheldon ruins.
I'm not saying every church in America looks like this, nor I am saying that every Christian has missed the mark. I'm simply observing that as a collective nation of believers, the signs of life aren't thriving. I suppose those churches and Christians that are thriving resemble the foliage outside those ruins--the only signs of life.
One, however, can't help but notice that an awakening is stirring in this nation, and a desperate hunger to be the church God desires is becoming palpable. The church is rising up, despite everything that is coming our way, and will continue to come our way, she continues to rise. May no one ever doubt that the church is a mighty force of God that makes the gates of hell tremble with fear as it moves forth to shatter the domain of darkness in this world. God has chosen to use the church to show His love.