A PICTURE OF THE CHURCH (1993)


by Andrew Strom



A  young  woman (the Church), clothed in what appears to be white
garments, stands in a darkened room. As we draw  nearer,  we  see
that  her  hands  are  clasped  around heavy objects that seem to
weigh her down, and she is also using the crook of both her  arms
to  cradle still more heavy objects to herself. Above her, God is
reaching down with outstretched hands towards her,  but  she  ap-
pears hardly to even notice.

In  the distance we see Satan, laughing as he drags at the chains
of millions of blinded souls, bound in chains of misery,  poverty
and  sin.   Slowly, he is dragging them all towards a huge pit at
the far end of the room. Many of them are crying out for  someone
to free them, to help them.

As  we  draw  nearer  to the young woman, we see that the objects
clasped in her hands and cradled carefully in her arms  are  nice
homes,  cars,  appliances, land and possessions. We see also that
she has designed her surroundings to make herself as  comfortable
as  possible,  with  so  much  food available that she has become
obese and fat. The cries of those bound in chains are louder now,
and  we  can  see  that  many of them are suffering terribly from
starvation and poverty. Millions of them, including  many  little
children, are right on the point of death. The young woman is too
busy watching television to really look at them, but occasionally
she  flicks  them  some  crumbs  off her table. A few of them are
helped by this, but millions more are destined to perish  without
hope in the darkness.

We  are  getting  quite  close to the young woman now, and we see
that despite her seeming affluence, her white garments  have  be-
come  soiled,  tattered and torn. Some of this has been caused by
her clinging so tightly to her weighty possessions. We  also  see
that  her  skin  is  mottled  with  a  kind  of leprosy caused by
"secret" sins, lust, untruthfulness,  resentment,  unforgiveness,
etc. The young woman shows no signs of being aware of her condit-
ion, and in fact appears totally blind to her wretched state.

Above her, Jesus weeps, crying aloud in anguish. The  Bible  says
that He "loved" this young woman, and "gave Himself for her". Now
He is forced to behold her steadily worsening  plight.  He  casts
His  eyes  also over the vast millions chained in misery, sin and
despair, knowing that it is only through the young woman that  He
can  reach  out  and heal them. As we watch, Jesus stretches down
His hands yet again towards the young woman, calling for  her  to
reach up to Him so that He can pour forth His cleansing power in-
to her and through her, to wash away her sin and unbelief, and to
empower her to reach out to those trapped in bondage and sin. But
the young woman's arms are so heavy with houses, worldly pursuits
and  possessions  (which she is unwilling to let go of), that she
is unable to reach up to God. And anyway, she is so busy watching
television that she can't even hear Him calling to her.

On  Sundays, the young woman always goes out. She dresses herself
up, and makes her way to a beautiful building  where  the  chairs
are  all in rows facing the front. The meetings here are known as
"church services". The young woman loves to sing the catchy chor-
uses  and  "worship"  God as the superb musicians play. The music
is so good that she often can't tell whether it is just the music
affecting  her or whether she is getting a real "touch from God".
Every week she feels "uplifted and blessed", and  yet  still  she
remains  seemingly oblivious to the agony that she is causing her
grieving Saviour. While the young  woman's  life  apparently  re-
volves  around keeping herself "happy", Jesus, the One who sacri-
ficed everything for her, is left "wounded in the  house  of  His
friends."

Often  there  are  men speaking at the "church services" who have
degrees and diplomas from Bible College. Many of  them  give  in-
spiring  and  entertaining  sermons,  full  of stories, jokes and
"illustrations". But none of them ever seem to preach directly on
the  terrible  condition  of  the  young  woman. Perhaps they are
afraid of "offending somebody".

And so, as God watches in anguish, the young woman  (the  Church)
continues  on  her worldly way, weighed down with possessions and
materialism, tainted with sin, seduced by the cares and pleasures
of this world. How long will it be before she comes to Him with a
"broken heart and a contrite spirit", crying out for a  flood  of
His  mercy  and  His power to be outpoured upon her? And how long
will it be before she throws away her worldly toys and  pursuits,
to "seek His face" with all her heart?
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Copyright (c) Andrew Strom, 1993. (Please feel free to photocopy).