Monday, July 13, 2009

Arrested Development or St John's Disease?

One of the professions I have had a love/hate relationship with has been MD's. As a Mission Executive I Administrated Hospitals in Africa and managed my share of MD's who are a sacrificial/self-important group (not unlike Senior Pastors - I hasten to confess). My love has been for their ability to hear a cough, rumble or squeak and identify the problem and recommend a diagnosis. Good diagnosticians are hard to come by and great ones are God's gift to the medical profession.
I have worked with at least two great ones in my career and have learned that many times the difference between a correct call and an OK call (one that does not do harm but does not really address the ailment) is all too often "gut" as opposed to brain. I have lived long enough to have a healthy respect for this "gut" input in my own profession and it is with that data I ask the question, "Is the church in America - more particularly the one to which I minister - suffering from arrested development or St John's disease?
Arrested development is the result of too little growth hormones, Bible reading, wise counsel, active church service and personal evangelism. As desperate as this condition my sound - a new believer who has never left the diaper stage and spends their Sunday's whining to be feed, but not too much - it is not a terminal illness. There are many 40, even 70, year old believers who still need to be changed by the Pastor before they can go out to play with the world, but who do little harm to the cause of Christ except as bad examples, which they don't really have much chance for since they spend so little time with unbelievers anyway.
St John's disease (C. Peter Wagner calls it a Syndrome) is best defined by Apostle John in the letter he transcribed to the church at Laodicea in Revelation 3:14-22 whom Jesus warned was about to be "spit out." But the condition could be seen developing in the church at Ephesus in 2:1-7 who was told to get back in touch with their first love, which I take to mean the love of the lost, given the powerful evangelistic movement in that church that led to a school of evangelism and the anger of the gold smiths of Diana.
I wish our illness today was arrested development but I fear it is St John's and while a good dose of spiritual disciplines will cure (if not heal) the former - only a rebirth in the fire of persecution seems to heal (there is no cure I know of) this malady which finds biological believers (for in America who is not at some point a biological? Few I would say) whining for government intervention to save a church whose Savior waits in the Doctor's lounge to be asked for a second opinion.

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