The world around us continues to shake. Listening to the news reports as well as the personal stories of friends, there is no doubt that our world continues to feel unsettled and uncertain at all times. Have you been “shaken” or felt “shaken” in the past two years?
I truly believe that there have been several dynamics at play in recent history: 1) mankind’s sin, 2) creation’s groan, 3) Satan’s rage, and 4) God’s shaking. We know the sinful choices of others and we ourselves often bring pain and brokenness into the world. Romans 8 also says that all creation groans for the full revelation of the children of God (at the return of Christ). Creation yearns to be freed from the “slavery of decay” that took place when God cursed the ground because of Adam’s sinful rebellion. The Enemy also works hard, raging all over the earth to steal, kill and destroy. The enemy knows he is defeated but still seeks to do as much destruction as possible until the very end. He is dangerous but defeated.
I also believe that God shakes the earth. The Scriptures tell us that the Lord shakes the nations so that we can understand what is truly unshakable: “At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised: ‘Once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heavens.’ The words “once more” indicate the removal of that which can be shaken—that is, created things—so that that which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we receive a unshakable kingdom, let us be grateful, and so worship God” (Hebrews 12:26-29).
We have seen and felt all of these dynamics at play through COVID, racial unrest, civil unrest, political division and polarization, etc. This week we were again shaken by the horrific school shootings in Uvalde, Texas. Our hearts break at the thought that such evil could exist in the world, but there is.
We have also witnessed many cracks and flaws in the church over the past few years. Many high-level pastors have fallen into moral failure and scandal. We have witnessed cases, abuses of power and financial misdeeds. The latest example bringing reproach to the people of God is the recently released Guidepost report on the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Church. Numerous reports of impropriety and/or sexual abuse by pastors and leaders were brought to the attention of the executive committee, but the information was kept hidden in lieu of forming a plan to deal with these issues. This allowed abusive leaders to continue their bad behavior instead of protecting women and churches who would become another victim.
Please don’t confuse my thoughts here as being anti-SBC in any way. I have great respect for many godly men and women in the SBC, and I truly have compassion that so many leaders will have to deal with the fallout from the failure of a few leaders at the top. And of course, the SBC is not alone when it comes to handling scandal in the church. This is just one last example.
My reason for speaking is two-fold: first, is it any wonder that younger generations are drifting away from the church and their faith? Can we blame the world for making fun of the church while calling us hypocrites? Second, I believe the Lord is actually shaking the church to help expose our flaws and cracks. Jesus seeks and longs for a pure and spotless bride. The apostle Peter said that “judgment begins with the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17). God will not let his people get away with it. I believe he seeks to bring purity and holiness to his people, and purifies the church. I share this not with a sense of arrogance or complacency, but truly with a humble sense of my own need for continued repentance and grace to transform my heart.
May we turn our hearts to God and allow him to seek us out and convict us of our sinful ways. And may we turn wholeheartedly to Him then, that we may live to honor His name. By the grace of God, may we never dishonor the name of Jesus by the lives we lead. Yes, I believe the Lord is allowing his church to be shaken, but he will bring forth a people who truly live and believe they are part of an unshakable kingdom! The Lord has mercy. And that’s the Word.