We have an eclipse coming on August 21, 2017. It will cover much of the country for several minutes and it will be decades before the USA will experience such a cosmic event again. I remember being in a near total eclipse back in the 70s when I was in high school. It was said at the time that chickens in our community became disorientated and began laying eggs in the middle of the day. Not having such a bird, I cannot confirm this.
An eclipse is an amazing sight. For a few minutes, during which time it should be its brightest, the sky darkens and appears as night. If you are driving, you might have to turn on your headlights if you do not have automatic headlights. Looking into it directly is dangerous and I understand you can purchase eclipse glasses from Amazon for a price that will drop dramatically on August 22nd.
We live in a day that is already experiencing a near total eclipse. Not an astronomical event but a moral and spiritual event. We live in a time where there is a near total eclipse of the heart. Think about this:
- We can go anywhere in the world in only a few hours. Travel that once took months and put your life in grave risk, now takes only a few hours, sitting in a chair 6 miles in the atmosphere. You walk on the plane in Dallas, sit down, sleep and enjoy a meal and a drink. Before you know it, you are in Hong Kong, or Russia, or thousands of other places throughout the world.
- The sum total knowledge of the world is as far away as a Google search. Want to know what a baseball player’s batting average was for any given year? Just Google it. Want to know how to replace a spark plug on your riding lawn mower? There is probably a YouTube video to show you how. No knowledge is beyond your cell phone’s reach. Coffee shop arguments are often settled with Siri.
- We live in comfort. We sleep on soft beds in air conditioned homes. We eat food stored in a refrigerator. We drive in luxury listening to any song we want, downloaded to our phones and piped through the Bose speakers in the car.
- We do not fear getting eaten by wild animals. None of us have ever had a relative die of scurvy or small pox. If you fail to brush your teeth and the dentist has to pull it, they can implant another for about $1200. Replaceable teeth!
Yet, in spite of our technological advancements, the heart of man is just as dark. At a time when we should be at our best, humanity is engaged against modern day barbarians who delight in sawing off the heads of “infidels.”
The modern church is far from exempt from this eclipse of the heart. Many churches are too engaged in a fight for Social Justice to share the Good News of Jesus. Other churches have sought after a different gospel; the Health and Wealth variety. This gospel is proclaimed in churches and on the airwaves 24/7. They promise healing, prosperity, restoration, and happiness for an indulgence of a seed faith offering.
Still other evangelical churches find themselves burdened with debt for buildings that are filled only a few hours a week. They have the best sound systems that money can buy and the most comfortable of pews. The video systems rival that of an IMax theater. The pastors have degrees from the best institutions of higher learning and the music would rival any Broadway musical in quality. Yet, despite such wealth, free will offerings are often used to service debt than send missionaries on the field with the tools they need to do their jobs. Not all churches are like this, but sadly too many are.
Then, sadly, there are the vast majority of churches that are just dead. They believe right; but their faith is cold and uninviting. It is a faith that clings to tradition at the expense of change. It clings to its buildings, budgets, and bureaucratic procedures and complex man-made rules and has little time for telling people about Jesus. I once had a man tell me that if our church grew, the parking lot might be full. I replied that was a good thing. His reply? “Well, what if there is an accident?” Such unfounded fear would keep us from Walmart on Saturdays.
A solar eclipse is when the moon gets in the way of the sun. An eclipse of the heart is when we get in the way of the Son of God. The eclipse of the heart plunges us into darkness. Look at a solar eclipse and you can go blind. Look at an eclipse of the heart long enough and you will become spiritually blind. In a solar eclipse, you can lose your way. If an eclipse of the heart, the church has lost its way.
So what are we to do? Tear down our buildings and give all that we have to the poor? Abandon modern worship and dispense with corporate gatherings? No, this is not the solution because it is not the cause of the problem. The problem is us. We must change. The change must begin with us and it begins in our own hearts. A renewal is only a change of heart away. Fortunately, we serve a God who is in the very business of changing hearts.