October 2016

Breathe Deep

 

I read an article recently about a pastor who was leading a missions team to Peru. As the group got higher and higher into the mountains, he experienced something he never had before: altitude sickness. He talked about being more sick than he had ever been in his life – nausea, headache, extreme fatigue – all because of a lack of oxygen.

 

He described the suffering he went through, until somebody offered him some oxygen. He said, “Apparently altitude sickness is common enough among travelers that within minutes I was provided with an oxygen mask and tank for a quick hit.” And, within five minutes, he started to feel better. His energy returned, and the nausea went away. The headaches stopped.

 

He remarked, “It was startling to me how sensitive the human body is to a lack of oxygen in the air we breathe. I have been equally startled by how sensitive the church body is to a lack of what it needs to breathe.”

 

What is that “it” that is so critical to the life and productivity of the church? Unity. When there is unity in the church, there is health and vitality. When there isn’t, the very life breath – the very oxygen – the church needs to survive and thrive becomes thin. And, very quickly, the church gets very, very sick. And, it’s not just localized illness – it’s a systemic, whole-body sickness.

 

There is little sense of worship. We don’t try to evangelize. People aren’t getting reached for Christ. Ministry is replaced with programming. Discipleship is hollow and meaningless. All because of the lack of authentic community – precious unity.

 

It is certainly true that the body, given time, can acclimate itself to high altitudes and thin air. And, this can be a good thing. Not so much with the church, however. Many churches have become “acclimated” to sniping and disunity, and have become comfortable living with the sickness, as if it were normal.

 

It’s no wonder that disunity was the one thing that Jesus prayed against in His great High Priestly prayer before His crucifixion (John 13-17). Jesus prayed for unity and love among those who would share His name, because, He said, it would be the ultimate defense of His message and the message of the church.

 

In other words, it would be the very air we would need to breathe. Without it, we would stop growing, start stagnating, turn inward,and have nothing to offer the world’s great need.

 

I pray that this is never EBC. But, we have to be alert and on guard for its happening. It’s a gradual stifling of the body – and it will kill off our soul and destroy revival. Let this never be.

 

So, breathe deep. Inhale and exhale the very oxygen Christ wanted for our lives. And when you sense a little altitude sickness coming on – do whatever it takes to put on the mask quickly!

 

In His Love,

Bro Heath