Falling Skies: The Demise of a Comatose Church

Aug 16

Falling Skies: The Demise of a Comatose Church

Audra and I are watching the TV show “Falling Skies,” and it really hasn’t been too interesting to me until the most recent episode.

SPOILER ALERT!!!

The overlords who are taking over earth

If you don’t watch the show, it’s about an alien invasion on earth. The overlord aliens are trying to take control of our planet. They are doing this partly by harvesting children, and turning them into an alien slave race (nicknamed “Skitters” by humans) to destroy the rest of humanity. The overlords also utilize powerful mechanical robots to destroy our civilization. Basically, the situation is hopeless. But one small regiment of humans is fighting to save and rescue the children, and to take our planet back–dealing blows here and there to the aliens. From week to week, humans are fighting against the odds, and sacrificing greatly. It’s a bleak picture, with little hope at all.

Children are being harvested and turned into a slave alien race

But the most recent episode tells about how this regiment finds a pocket of humans who have survived underground, undetected by the invading aliens. They have actually been able to adapt to underground living very well! They grow fresh produce, sleep in comfortable beds, and are even starting to form a new democracy, since the US government has been completely wiped out. To this regiment that has just arrived, it is paradise! Utopia! Unbelievable! Peace at last. Community. Kids are going to school. Adults are working to build this new way of life. It seems perfect.

That is, until the regiment tries to encourage these people to not forget about all the devastation and destruction happening on the surface. Children are being removed from their families and transformed into a slave alien race. Cities are being wiped out. Suffering and devastation is everywhere. But this community has invested too much in itself to risk exposure to the aliens by joining in the fight. They want to remain under the radar and continue enjoying their new-found life. Meanwhile, out in the real world, the skies are falling.

What a perfect analogy for today’s church. As the late Christian songwriter Keith Green wrote and sang, “The world is sleeping in the dark that the church just can’t fight, cuz it’s asleep in the light.”

I am feeling more and more that the church in America, largely, is comatose. I believe that what is keeping most of our modern churches going can be viewed as artificial life support. Remove those elements, and the local church will largely wither away. Even with such support, it seems to be withering away.

Statistics show that very few of us who sit in the pew (or stand behind the pulpit, for that matter) are daily connected to Jesus–full of the Holy Spirit. Most of us are deeply struggling spiritually, and we don’t connect with God, unless we have an awesome worship team singing one of our favorite songs. Even in such cases, most of us still aren’t worshiping–we are spectating. Most of us won’t open the Bible on our own–or even in church. We look to our pastor to study the Bible for us and tell us what it teaches. Most of us won’t share our faith this week, but will hope that our church offers people the chance to accept Christ when the sermon is over. Most of us aren’t serving in any kind of communal ministry during the week with other brothers and sisters in Christ. Most of us aren’t actively participating in any kind of communal spiritual development group either. Most of us feel we can’t part with even 10% of our money on Sunday–90% of our incredible wealth isn’t enough to sustain our lives during the rest of the week. Almost NONE of us feels equipped to mentor someone else on a weekly basis into what it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus, even though we’ve been attending church all our life! We don’t even feel we can teach the Scriptures to our own children.

Most of us feel we have neither the time nor the money nor the ability to do any of these things. If we are honest with ourselves, we have very little desire to do most of them. What exactly has attending church all our lives accomplished us?

It’s not that we should try to do such things, and check them off the list one-by-one, and feel good about ourselves. What I’m more getting at is our spiritual life–our connection to the supernatural power and life-sustaining Spirit of God–is waning. We rely almost exclusively on our church to artificially sustain us spiritually.

Some might say that my expectations for your average Christian are too high. That’s only for radical Christians! The average church-goer evangelizing every week with those around them? And also serving in ministry weekly? And also involved in a spiritual development group of some sort? And studying their Bible daily? And setting aside a good chunk of their time to pray daily? And giving hundreds or thousands of dollars every month to the ministries in their church? And discipling their children? And memorizing Scripture? And teaching others in their church about how to live the Christian life?

I imagine a patient in an ICU room. She is only alive because of the machines keeping her in this state. What do we want for her? To be full of life once again, of course! To, on her own, breathe every second of every day. In addition, to have her heart beating every second of every day. In addition, for her eyes to see, for her ears to hear, for feet to be able to walk, for her hands to be able to do work, for her mind to be able to comprehend and discern, for her mouth to be able to communicate, for her digestive system to operate properly, for her blood to be flowing, for her nerves to be sending signals, for her muscles to be expanding and contracting, temperature regulation, inner ear balance…and on and on I could go…

Are we expecting too much for our ICU patient? Is that unrealistic behavior for human living? Absolutely not, those are just a few of the basics for normal human living. Of course, in her current state, we can’t expect such things. She’s barely alive, so much so that it’s 50/50 whether she will come out of this or not. For someone in her state, normal human living is way too high of expectations at this point.

But for those of us who are alive, these things are not anything lofty. We live in a different realm where these things are normal and expected. Although there is so much going on simultaneously, unassisted by artificial life apparatuses, it is nothing radical at all.

I propose that what ought to be normal Christian living seems near impossible for the average church-goer because we are comatose. I propose that if we strip all the bells and whistles of modern church (contemporary music shows, extravagant children and youth programs, multimedia presentations, carefully-crafted speeches, etc), our churches will fizzle out. If we attempt to pull ourselves off the plug, it’s over. Just look at the spiritual life of churches in America who don’t have such things. They look very different spiritually from churches around the world who don’t have such things either–but are bold for Jesus as they suffer persecution for His sake.

This isn’t true across the board, but it is largely true. Stats show that 10-20% of attenders of church do 80-90% of the work. They also show that very few of us are doing any of the other things I listed at the beginning of this post. We are not self-sustaining, and we are relying on artificial things to give us artificial life.

I, for one, don’t want artificial life. I want the real thing. I want the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit flowing in my individual life and flowing through my church. I don’t want to cover up the lack of that life and power by artificial means.

There is hope! The hope is God doing a restorative work in us. The hope is us getting back on our knees and seeking God. Our hope is to stop depending on all these other things, and start depending on Him only. Our hope is to run to Him and discover true life once again. A renewal, a revival.

The Keith Green song, “Asleep In The Light,” (which I referred to earlier in this post) was the first song I heard by Keith Green. I heard it while attending college and it immediately convicted me. Keith Green has since then become my favorite Christian songwriter. You should check out his music, even though most of it was written in the 70’s. Look past the sound and listen to the message. Here is the song:

ASLEEP IN THE LIGHT

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