Why I Believe That The CHURCH Is The Solution
The chaos that has resulted from the crisis of the last few months is more dangerous than the virus that we are all trying to protect ourselves from. Solutions are in short supply as the fallout from a global pandemic is still assaulting the lives of billions of people across our planet. Governments, politicians, scientists, activists, and unfortunately many opportunists, are all scrambling for the position of king of the hill touting their version of the solution.
A solution is a means of solving a problem or dealing with a difficult situation. This definition has unwittingly revealed the core of why a solution has not yet been found or implemented to solve the problem. The problem is that there is no agreement on what the problem is. There is a plethora of commentary and analysis on what the problem is creating in societies, but there is no unified voice of agreement on the problem itself.
Here is another definition of the word solution: a liquid mixture in which the minor component (the solute) is uniformly distributed within the major component (the solvent). An example of a solution according to this definition could be dissolving sugar (solute) in hot water (solvent). The amount of sweetness the water will have is directly related to the amount of sugar that is put in. A synonym for this definition of solution is the word mixture, and therein lies the problem. I believe that this definition of solution explains why we are in such a mess in our quest to solve the problem. We have made the minor component (our opinions, views, religious dogmas, political posturing, and the like) into the major component thereby creating a mixture that is incapable of affording a solution. Everybody’s solution becomes nobody’s answer.
We are living in an age where problem solving is rooted in a naturalistic scientific method of discovery. If something cannot be observed, analyzed, and verified, it cannot be accepted as a fact. This may be vital for understanding the nature of the physical and natural forces that control our world but it fails abysmally when this method is used for solving problems that deal with the deep moral/spiritual problems that lurk in the heart of humanity.
The symptoms of this problem are reported non stop through the media creating a sense that the rays of hope are being forever filtered out by the ever-thickening overcast of gloom. Day by day it seems that the river of life is becoming more and more toxic and polluted. Every so often we hear about some brave souls that are wading into the swirling cesspool to drag out pieces of the by-products of a broken world in hopes of cleaning up the river. Then, as soon as they get to the bank, another mass of moral corruption comes barreling downstream.
If this river is ever going to run clean and pure again, if the swamp is ever to be drained, the focus must be on the source of the problem, not cleaning up the symptoms. History is clear - symptom identification and management of social corruption and evil only provides the underlying disease time to colonize and eventually conquer its host. Humanity is the host, the underlying disease is sin, and the source of sin is darkness.
We will need to travel back, way back, as far back as the creation of what we call existence, to discover the source of this deadly darkness. One of the great mysteries of existence is what existed before the creation of our world? On this side of eternity we may never fully understand or comprehend this timeless truth. But we do have a picture of what existed just prior to the cosmic boom of God’s voice and the existence-creating statement, “Let there be…” Here is the way the account is recorded:
[Gen 1:2 NASB] The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.
In order to fully grasp the impact of this scene we must move away from a purely naturalistic understanding of creation. In other words, there is more going here then just the creation of physical objects. God is a Spirit and therefore, the spiritual realm is more real (because it existed before the natural world) than the physical world. There was something there that God was speaking to during His creation of physical matter that we must see in order to understand the source of the problems we are dealing with.
Let’s pick apart this verse in order to get a better grasp on the dynamics of what God’s Spirit was seeing as He was moving over the surface of deep, and what His intentions were in creating the way He did. Remember, we have to see the spiritual realities before we can understand the physical manifestations. If we strip the scriptures of this mysterious spiritual dimension, we end up with another branch of science we call theology (the study of God - seems strange in this context - the created is studying the Creator)!
A few brief word studies are in order. Let’s peel back the surface and see what lies beneath a usual understanding. The first word we need to look at is formless. Our initial understanding of this word may resemble something like a cloud that is suspended in mid air with a constantly changing shape. If we dig deeper we will find that the original uses of this word refer to confusion, wastelands, vanity, and most importantly, chaos. The ancients believed in powerful, corrupted spirits that were the cause of the chaos. The next word we need to examine is void. The underlying image of this word is related to ruins, as in a city that was completely devastated by the ravages of a savage war. Something bad, very bad, was going on and God was about to act. The third word we need to dissect is darkness. We know that physical darkness is a description of the degree of the absence of light. But again, scripture uses this word to describe much more than a physical property of the universe. The word carries the meaning of wickedness, misery, death, and destruction. The fourth descriptive word is surface, which is actually the word face. It denotes more than just what was on top- it can be used to describe the face of a being, as in our human face, which defines who we are. This points to some type of personality or entity that was active in this moment of history. The last word we will look at is deep. This word, in its original usage, described more than just the measure of how far beneath the surface a void or cavity goes. The word carries the meaning of abyss, which is associated with the underworld where evil dwells. More on this word later...
So what could have been going on at this moment just before God spoke, “Let there be light?” Either it was purely an act of physical creation, or there was a divine decree directed to the chaos and destruction that had laid waste to this place we call Earth. Remember, we are told that in the “beginning” God created the heavens and the earth. When the beginning was, is a mystery, but what happened sometime after this beginning is the subject of Genesis 1:2.
Here is a very important insight. God was on the scene, hovering, over this wasteland. The word used here is not so much describing a physical movement like a hummingbird hovering over a flower. It means to brood over, to have deep soft feelings of love over something, to cherish, or to be moved (thus the sense of hovering) with deep affection for something. I believe, and you are more than welcome to disagree, that this scene portrays a broken hearted Creator looking over the wasted ruins of one of His prize creations caused by dark, rebellious, sinister spiritual beings bent on death and destruction.
God is not going to sit back passively and watch this darkness corrupt His creation. He is getting actively involved and fully intends to take back what is His and heal this beautiful place we call home. His first act of redemption for the liberation of the planet is to shout, “Let there be light,” thereby exposing the problem and enabling the true solution to chaos to unfold. After He moves some things around, He plants a garden and creates humans to live there.
Now, this was no ordinary garden with potatoes, peas, and peppers (although those things probably were part of the master plan). The word garden is actually a word that means a walled defensive post, like the headquarters for an army. It comes from an ancient Hebrew root which means to defend. It sounds to me like God is setting in motion a military campaign and humanity is right in the thick of it. Indeed, look at the first words God speaks to His humans: “be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and subdue it and take dominion over it.” Either there were some pretty big and bad weeds that needed to be tamed in order for the garden to expand or there was something pretty sinister going on outside the walls of the Garden that needed to be subdued and dominated. The word subdue literally means to trample under foot as in walking over an enemy. The word dominion means prevail against someone or something. Why all the tough-guy imagery?
This post started off with a simple cry for a real solution to a current day problem that has caused a cultural crisis. At this point, it seems like the problem just got immensely more complicated and a solution seems unattainable. I have yet to explain myself as to why I believe that the CHURCH is the solution to the problem. I will lay out my case in the next post, so for now, stay tuned and tune in!
by Pastor Jim Anan