Three men digging a ditch on a scorching summer afternoon were approached by a friend who asked, “What are you guys doing?” The first, already weary from exertion, responded impatiently, “What does it look like? We’re digging a hole!” The second, sensing that the question was not meant to be rhetorical, added, “We’re laying a foundation pad. It’s going to be filled with concrete.”
The third man, who had been whistling happily while he labored, laid his shovel aside, wiped his forehead, and began to describe in great detail how this particular hole was strategic for the placement of one of the massive flying buttresses that would support an entire wall of stained glass windows for a new cathedral. After describing in great detail the plans and procedures for completion of the structure, which was sure to take several years, he added, “If things go according to plan, on Christmas Eve five years from now my family and I will worship together at the altar where that rubbish pile is now located.”
All three men were working hard at the same task. But their attitudes varied markedly depending on their perspective. The man who maintained the most comprehensive perspective had the best attitude and the most energy. Having a proper perspective enables us to survey a situation and see not just what is happening, but the significance behind what is happening, and the capacity to develop strategies for what needs to happen next. In short Maturity Matters.
The root causes behind our current crisis are complex, but as Christians we must shoulder some of the responsibility. Though individual believers and some communities have found ways to grow and develop, on a large scale the Church has lost some of the capacity to be salt and light in the world. We have not, as the Scriptures command, made growth toward spiritual maturity a primary goal. Disciple building has broken down. When disciple building breaks down, cultures soon follow.
We are again at a pivot-point in history. Will this be our greatest catastrophe or our finest hour? It will depend upon our perspective of God and His Kingdom. Without such a vision, it might be easy to lose hope and become weary in this difficult hour. Are we merely “digging ditches” or are we building something wonderful “to the glory of God”?
What ways are do you see the church digging ditches? Do you see places in scripture that call us to a bigger vision?