Walking through the Bush
near our home in Sydney
my heart was heavy for
the state of the church,
both in Australia and in
the UK. What is wrong?
What can be done about it?
answers to that, and I have spent a great deal
of my life thinking about, and experiencing,
much of what is wrong – as well as rejoicing
in what is good, right, pure and holy. As
it struck me that there was an
explanation right at my feet – deadwood.
in Australia we are
of bushfire season. Last year, as the world
knows, it was one of the worst ever, with
considerable areas of
the country being
burnt. But bushfires happen every year – and
they are not necessarily bad. Except when
there has not been a fire for years and there
is a lot of deadwood which acts as fuel for a
much more destructive fire. The fire cleanses,
regenerates and enables plants to flower that
would not do so without the heat.
The Message translation of John 15:6
me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown
on the bonfire.’ What if the church has a
lot of deadwood,
leadership? Jesus tells us that His Father is the
gardener who cuts of every branch that bears
no fruit. But what if the Father has stopped
pruning and left us to our own devices?
The indigenous people in Australia have for
many centuries had a policy of ‘backburning’
‘controlled burns’. But
like that. It seems wrong to
deliberately set fires. Besides which it creates too much smoke. As a result, in recent years,
in order to preserve our own comfort and
because we can’t be bothered, there has been
little controlled burning. So, when the fire
inevitably comes it has years of deadwood
to feed off. I wonder if one of the things
that has been happening in the church is
that we have forgotten church discipline and
we have permitted a significant amount of
‘deadwood’ – just to keep the peace? Perhaps
what Paul says
in Romans 1 happens to
society (God leaves us to have it our way),
has also happened in the church?
Comment David Robertson
Why is there deadwood? Because it has
not remained in the vine. It is attached to
the vine but is no longer living. Sometimes you can’t tell until a wind comes and breaks
it off, and the fire comes and renews what
still has life. I wonder how many churches
will survive when the storm comes? I wonder
how much of our work will have turned out
to be wood, stubble and straw, when the fire
comes to test the quality of each person’s
work (1 Cor. 3:14).
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