by Daniel Bramlett
For years we’ve said there is a deep, dark spiritual battle going on for the soul of SW Arkansas. We’ve talked about how that’s manifested in the many lives eaten up with addictions of all kinds. We’ve talked about deteriorating neighborhoods, disengaged school kids, businesses struggling to keep solid employees, churches struggling to keep their heads above water… Most of the time we read things like this and think, “Yeah, that’s right. But what in the world can I do about it?” And we move on with life. And then a 40-year-old mom who’s seeking Jesus is shot and killed. Or a drunk driver hits another car and instantly kills a child. Or a major business closes. Suddenly things get worse, but still we think we can do nothing about it. We feel incredibly sorry for those who’ve lost loved ones, but we think, “We’ve encountered crisis, too. We survived. They’ll make it.” And we move on with life. At what point does the Church shout, “NO! We will NOT move on! We have to turn around and go the other way.” That’s how I feel today.
I hurt for our police force. These men and women see the most horrible things. They walk into our lives when we are at our worst. The court system is designed to mitigate a semblance of morality by enforcing the laws we’ve all agreed on. The police are just doing their jobs, but sometimes, I imagine, their jobs are almost unbearable.
I hurt for our school system. Our administrators and teachers have incredibly difficult jobs. They see our kids at their best and their worst. Many of them will tell you there are more bad times than good if we compare today with even 10 years ago. The school system is designed to teach morality. You might push back against that statement, but think about it. Morality is the ability to control your base desires, submit to a higher authority in any given circumstance because you admit the boundaries established for you by that authority are better than the boundaries you would establish for yourself. Immorality is the breaking of those boundaries. School teaches us how to adhere to these boundaries…among other things ☺. School leaders are doing their job well, but I can imagine it becomes unbearable at times.
I hurt for our business sector. Employees come to work high or show an “I don’t care” attitude. Our businesses do their best and customers complain or just don’t come in. The workforce is so limited they are forced to settle for less than the best when hiring. Business leaders are doing their jobs well, but I can imagine they want to throw up their hands often.
I’m not trying to paint a picture of despair. I’m trying to be honest; to paint a picture of reality. When is enough enough? We can always do a better job, but the three sectors I’ve mentioned are all working hard. They are always trying to do their best. Our struggles are not because of a mass failure on the part of our businesses, schools or law enforcement/court system. We are spiraling because the Church has failed.
The Church is the only institution that can bring about real change. The Body of Christ doesn’t legislate, enforce or teach morality. We don’t make or lose money as a result of its infringed boundaries. Our primary goal is not even to model morality. The Church is present to offer a new heart and a new mind to those who engage in its family. God uses the Church to create an environment where new desires can be born and exercised. If the Church is removed (or if it goes to sleep) society loses its conscience. All of the moral boundary keepers can still be present, but if the Church disappears it suddenly becomes impossible for them to do their job well. Moral boundary keepers will be constantly frustrated because the people under their care won’t care anymore. Anything goes. Shoot up a house? Sure. Drop out or sleep through school? Go for it. Go to work high? Why not. It’s time for the Church to say “Enough!”
What happens when we say that? Nothing. We can get mad about our current situation(s) all day long and absolutely nothing will happen. We can get Amens all day long; people will like our posts on Facebook and nothing will change. Only when we start to act on our calling do things start to change. Recognizing the spiritual battle is only part of the solution. Entering the battlefield is a whole other part of the equation. Will you spend your week lamenting our current situation or will you enter the battlefield? We can either be filled with remorse over the state of SW Arkansas or we can do something about it.
The greatest thing the Church can do in the face of overwhelming spiritual darkness is PRAY. To pray is to admit that we can’t fix a single thing and at the same time admit we know Who can. It is putting our faith in the only One who can rescue the hopeless, bring peace to the chaos and show love to our enemies. Will you step on the field to pray? This Sunday night at 7pm we will be at the Hempstead County Courthouse to pray. Just pray. Let’s stand together.