Sports fans of losing teams amaze me.
One gentleman, has the logo of his favorite team, the Chicago Cubs, on the front of his car. When I asked why it was upside down, he explained he will up right it as soon as they have a winning season. The bolts are rusted.
The church has had a few bad years too. Perhaps a string of bad decades. Between a few immoral pastors making headlines, fundamentalist groups pushing extreme theologies based on weak interpretations of Scripture, and atheists arguing that God is a delusion, it is not surprising many members are reluctant to invite friends and neighbors to worship. It is not surprising that membership in mainline denominations peaked in the 1960’s. It is not surprising that the fastest growing faith segments are Spiritual-But-Not-Religious and None of the Above.
But a few bad years is nothing new for the Church:
- Exodus records Hebrew slavery in Egypt.
- Judges tells of cycles of decades long lapses of faith punctuated by heroic leaders.
- The Books of Kings culminate in Babylonian exile. Jeremiah tells the exiles to build houses and marry, implying they won’t becoming home soon.
- John recorded his Revelations during violent persecutions.
- In various countries around the world Christians endure church bombings and burnings.
Yet, the Church endures. Perhaps it will flourish again before the Cubs have another winning season.
For thus says the Lord:
Only when Babylon’s seventy years are completed
will I visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise
and bring you back to this place.
For surely I know the plans I have for you,
says the Lord,
plans for your welfare and not for harm,
to give you a future with hope.
— Jeremiah 29:10-11