CONDITION OF THE CHURCH IN 2021
In reading the Book of Ezekiel recently my attention was drawn to the vision in chapter 37, where the prophet saw a huge valley of dry bones. The question was asked – “Can these bones live again” – wisely the prophet replied, “Only you know, Lord”.
In the eleventh verse of chapter 37, the bones speak – and say this about their condition:
“Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!”
God spoke to my heart that this is a diagnosis for the church (the body of Christ) today in 2021!
We have gone through, and continue to journey through this, what I call, a pandemonium pandemic – COVID19 – they number it 19 for the year it supposed began, but note, it is not new, nor is it the first COVID virus we have ever seen, and we’ll probably see more to come.
During all this, and perhaps because of this, we are looking across a vast valley of dry, hopeless, and divided church.
My friend, Todd Smith, pastor of Christ Fellowship Church in Dawsonville, GA, and host of what has been called the “North Georgia Revival”, has written a new book, entitles “Come Alive Dry Bones”. In the opening chapter, Todd writes, “Most recently in a time of prayer, God spoke a startling word to my heart about our country. It was emphatic, shocking, and unmistakable. It made me nervous and gave me cause for great concern. He said, ‘The hope of America lives within the hands of the church.’ This notification from the Lord jolted me; it was like lightening exploding in my soul.”
I’m convinced that this is true – the hope for America and our world is up to the church of Jesus Christ. And, if we are a valley of dry, hopeless, and divided bones – there is NO hope of any change to come.
I know that Ezekiel was written to the people of Israel, but there is a tremendous application to
‘Spiritual Israel’ – the church. Note the problem – and then I’ll address the solution:
WE ARE DRY
Earlier in the passage it says they bones were very dry – meaning they have been in that condition a long time. Dry bones have lost their moisture – lost their effectiveness – you know that the marrow in in the bones which supplies all life blood to the body – and now it’s very dry = no viable life source.
Look at the condition of the church world today in 2021 --- our altars are empty – no tears stain our pews (or seats) – what’s the condition of your personal prayer life? When was the last time you “wept before the Lord?” Look at our denominations – they are in decline. In my own denomination, 70-80 % of our churches are plateaued or declining in attendance, with 21% of them not reporting a single conversion last year in any of their ministries. We are DRY!
Look at our homes --- dry --- sad that we are now relegated to watching religious and/or church program on our large TVs – and are seldom “on our knees” in a family altar time (if “family altar” even exists anymore). Half of American marriages end in divorce – scattering children all over the place emotionally.
Look at our schools – can’t pray there anymore – can’t say “one nation under God” anymore – more concerned about sexual equality and “critical race theory” which tries to blame one’s race for all the ills in society.
Look at America in general – we are more divided now than ever before – our country is DRY – we have lost our “life source” – we are like zombies going through the motions – unhappy, depressed, and suicidal.
WE HAVE LOST HOPE
Hope is the most important commodity known to man. Without hope, why go on? Without hope, faith suffers deeply. We know according to Scripture, that without faith, no one can please God. We also know that “hope deferred (or delayed) make the heart sick”.
Our churches are lacking hope. With 40-60% of the regular attenders in most church choosing to NOT return to in-person services and events, (yet look at the attendance numbers for sporting events) many pastors and church leaders are desperate to know what to do --- Where do we turn? Is there any hope? If, as we are told, this is the ‘new normal’, then why go on? Thousands of the clergy are quitting every year, and that number seems to increase with each passing day.
Our nation lacks any hope. We watch a barrage of bad news every news cycle, 24 hours a day – “gloom and doom, and agony on me”. Things seem to go from bad to worse. Will this crisis end? When will it end? Maybe it will never end?
Some of you have really questioned your faith! You’ve lost hope in the church! You’ve lost hope in your government (it never really was the answer for much of anything, was it?). You are struggling. You’ve watch friends and family die because of this virus. Nothing seems to be changing! It seems hopeless.
WE SEEM CUT OFF
Just as the valley was comprised of scattered bones, with no connection to each other – so our cities, our nation, our churches, our families, and our own personal lives seem to be “cut off” – we are divided! It is “every man for himself”, and selfishness abounds in our land, and even in the church world. What has divided us? -- Our traditions have divided us -- Our race and culture now divide us – our customs divide us – and on top of that we have an enormous attach from demons in every area of society (such as murder, pornography, human trafficking, etc.) – and there is such a spirit of oppression over our land. Then to add to this some “religious spirits” (if you understand the Bible – the Pharisees still live on!) – and you’ve got a recipe for disaster!
WHAT’S THE SOLUTION?
The prophet was told to speak to the bones to ‘COME TOGETHER’ – That’s UNITY. We must lay aside our differences, and come together NOW – especially Christian people – Ask yourself, does your opinions really matter as much as seeking God for a move of His Spirit on this land? The answer for America – the answer for your church – the answer for your family is not political – not economic – not sociological – it’s SPIRITUAL – THE TIME FOR UNITY IS NOW.
After the bones (in the vision) came together – There was no muscle or sinew on them – they were still dry bones – now connected. As the prophet spoke to the bones again, ORDER came about – muscles and sinew came together. We all know from science class (way back then) that the skeleton (bones connected) in order provides STRUCTURE for our bodies – and the skeleton provides protection for vital organs inside. We must have UNITY and ORDER in our land – in our churches – in your families – in your personal life.
Then the prophet calls for flesh and skin to appear – and it did! According to the Scriptures, we are made “in the image of God Himself” – so this addition of flesh and skin – means that HOLINESS has come – that element of Godlikeness that sets us apart from all other creation. Yes, it’s past time for our land to become HOLY – to be set apart of sin, from idolatry, from every attribute that is not like God! It’s past time for our churches to once again be HOLY --- get the sin out – get God back in first place! Isn’t it time for YOU personally to get HOLY? – get right with God – live like Jesus would live in you!
The solution cannot and will not be complete – without the last element. Having UNITY, ORDER, HOLINESS – still isn’t enough. The valley in the vision was full of now connected bones, with muscles, sinew, and even skin and flesh – but they were still DEAD – UNTIL – the breath of God blew across the valley. The final element of the solution to being DRY, HOPELESS, and CUT OFF – is the “wind of the Holy Spirit”. My prayer is that God will once again, BLOW over America – BLOW over our churches – BLOW over your family – BLOW over you personally until you come to LIFE --- and STAND as a mighty ARMY for God in this hour!