Leonard Sweet, in his book The Church of the Perfect Storm (2008), states that the Church is heading into a “perfect storm” of cultural forces. Sweet writes than an array of cultural forces are coming together to present the church with unprecedented challenge and unequaled opportunity. Such “category 5" realities as postmodernism, post-Christendom attacks on belief in God, and the threat of global warming have coalesced to make a “perfect storm” that will leave people uncertain of their place in the world, and all they have previously believed in. He didn’t even add in the polarizing political climate some of us live in.
Jeremiah is an example of someone who was called by God during Israel’s perfect storm in c. 626 B.C. He was tasked to give prophesy of Jerusalem's destruction that would occur by invaders from the north. This was because Israel had been unfaithful to the laws of the covenant and had forsaken God by worshiping the Baals. The people of Israel had even gone as far as building high altars to Baal in order to burn their children in fire as offerings. Israel had deviated so far from God that they had broken the covenant, causing God to withdraw his blessings. Jeremiah was guided by God to proclaim that the nation of Judah would be faced with famine, plundered and taken captive by foreigners who would exile them to a foreign land.
Eugene Peterson describes it like this. Imagine there was a guy on board the Titanic with sonar equipment, trying to convince the captain and crew to believe there was an iceberg ahead. They’d never heard of sonar and thought he was nuts. That guy was Jeremiah and the Titanic was Israel.
The church in Ireland is also attempting to find its moorings in the midst of their perfect storm of cultural forces that have sidelined the value of faith. Working on campus, our sonar equipment is the power of the Spirit to share the gospel and our testimony of how God has changed our lives. Our Titanic is the university context in Ireland. The iceberg is the reality that Jesus is coming back again and we want to point students to begin a relationship with Him.
Jeremiah struggled to convince his people that if they didn’t change course, God would let them crash. What’s amazing to me is that He never quit pleading with them, or God, not even when the king had him thrown into a pit while invading armies starved out the last survivors in Jerusalem. Some may look at Jeremiah and say he was a failure, because he didn’t achieve the results he wanted, but he was also a great success because he was faithful to do what God asked him to do.
Leonard Sweet goes on to ask, will the church sink beneath the waves, or ride the winds of the Spirit? Like the disciples when Jesus calmed the storm, the church can cower and cry out for relief. Or, when everything is spinning and whirling in the wind, the church can go out to meet the storm, embrace the gale, . . . and pass out kites.
The reward is not in the harbor.
The reward is in the midst of the storm.
The reward is in the deep water.
Please pray for us to be like Jeremiah.
To be faithful to head out into the deep waters of the storm.
And to pass out kites.