Reflecting on the history of the church over a century later in his book, The Everlasting Man, G.K. Chesterton noted, “At least five times… the (Christian) Faith has to all appearance gone to the dogs. In each of these five cases it was the dog that died.”
Today the Church is going through yet another difficult time, but it is certainly not the end. In fact, it is likely to be the precursor to a new move of God. History reminds us that God has moved powerfully in the past and is able do it again. It can help us to gain a renew perspective of the time in which we live based upon what has gone before.
Genesis 26:18 tells the simple story of how Isaac re-opened the wells of his father Abraham. His situation is somewhat desperate. There was a famine in the land and Isaac needed water for the survival of his family and livestock. Rather than search for new sources of water, Isaac retraced his father’s footsteps and re-dug the wells which the Philistines had filled in. He then renamed them, giving them the names given by his father.
We too live in desperate and famine-like times. There is a spiritual drought and we need some living water. We need it for our survival.
We can, like Isaac, return to the places where there was life in the past. We can dig the old wells and un-tap old springs. God moved across Britain in the 18th century and there have been times in the Australian Church’s history when God has moved powerfully as well. God has done it before, he can do it again.
When the world talks about the demise or irrelevance of the church and we are tempted to agree, it is good to remember God has not given up. Jesus continues to build his church, his purposes continue to be fulfilled, and his kingdom continues to grow.
While we are to avoid presumption in assuming renewal is inevitable, we are called to pray and seek God’s action. God has acted in the past and it can happen again. In this we have reason to pray with expectation.
So let’s keep on praying that God will continue his work and we will see a new movement of his Spirit across the breadth of Australia.
Stephen L Baxter