In recent weeks I have learned that two long-time friends, both younger than me, have received a diagnosis of Cancer. Either too late to be effectively treated or of a type of Cancer with an average survival rate of less than two years.
These events have sharply highlighted the ‘Damoclean Sword’ of death that constantly hangs over all of our heads, whatever form it takes- sickness, a road accident or just the inevitable falling night of old age. For all of us this is the end of that brief mist between eternity and eternity we call life, the inevitable prelude to the swinging open of the gate of death. Then what?
Jesus answer to that question is that every human is journeying along one of two roads – the wide road that leads to destruction or the narrow road that leads to (eternal) life (Matthew 7:13,14).
This ‘Damoclean Sword’ meditation caused me to think which of those two roads are my friends on. For one I am sure it is the narrow road, for the other, a very nominal church member I am not so sure. Bigger than that-what about my family and other friends? What about the millions of Australians who are stumbling in darkness along the wide road that leads to the horror of an eternity without God.
With this terrible horizon waiting to greet the millions around us without Christ, should not our love from God and our love for God drive us to put all our efforts into gospel mission, so that with the Apostle Paul we “May possibly save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22)?
But what do we actually see? We see the Church ‘fiddling’. Fiddling with issues of varying importance such as women bishops, ‘same sex’ marriage, the preservation of old buildings and rituals but which are secondary. This while millions of souls journey towards the, no doubt metaphorical but no less terrible, ‘burning’ of the ‘Second death” and “the lake of fire” (Revelation 21:8).
We see the church fiddling with missionally ineffective strategies of yesteryear, ever fiddling in a bondage to idolatries of form and ritual, of ‘comfortable’ Christianity which refuses to pay the cost of the discipleship that Jesus calls us to- while the ‘Rome’ of western society ‘burns’.
There is an urgency for the church to be ‘Unbound’, set free from its current captivities, to turn its still considerable resources to the mission into the pagan darkness of the lost. To let go of our beloved forms and traditions for the sake of the lost, to pay the price that the King made clear is His demand, without which we “Cannot be His disciple”. To show love for all those blissfully unaware of the ‘Sword of Damocles’ hanging over their head.
This is actually what ‘loving our neighbour is’.