As intense droughts and record temperatures threaten Europe, parts of the United States and various regions in China, an unforeseen benefit has occurred with the drastically falling water levels. An ancient stone circle emerged in a drying reservoir in Spain; dinosaur tracks were discovered on the bed of a dried river in Texas; German World War 2 warships are exposed as the Danube drops to historically low levels. But of special interest is a church in Spain by the name of the Church of Sant Romà de Sau that had been under water since 1965 when a dam was constructed, drowning an entire town, and with it the church. The drought in Spain has put it once again on dry land – picturesque, exposed, standing on its foundations, but still empty.
I think of churches that have been drowned by the flood of the culture around it. There’s a majestic looking one that stands right next to St. Mike’s hospital downtown that no longer proclaims the name of Christ. St. Leslieville at Dundas Street and Jones just shy of the Don Valley Parkway is now luxury lofts, as are numerous other churches in our city ranging from Presbyterian churches to Methodist churches. Every one of these structures is picturesque, exposed and standing on its foundations. But none of them is filled with people walking in the Spirit and being a witness to the culture around it. Jesus reminds the churches of today, “Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God” (Revelation 3:2). It is a warning well worth listening to. I think there are three reasons for the gradual flooding of the popular culture into the church. First, there isn’t a clear declaration of God’s Word that distinguishes the life of Christ from the life of the world. Second, there is a gradual erosion of leadership as young people leave and older people grow spiritually insipid. And third, there is a loss of purpose for which Christ called the church – to be salt and light, to preach the Word, to witness to the love of Christ and the salvation of souls. William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, once stated, “The chief danger that confronts the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, heaven without hell.” Booth died 110 years ago on August 20, 1912, and he is frighteningly correct. I think it’s about time that we pray for the revival of the church. And pray for our own church that we will remain strong and strengthen others. As the Psalmist says, “Surely in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach you” (Psalm 32:6). And may our church, and all the churches of Jesus not simply struggle to “stay afloat”, but to overcome and be His witness.