This is a picture of a World War II bomber plane taking flak. Flak refers to masses of sharp metal pieces that would pierce the planes usually finding their way into the bodies of the pilots and the crew. I have been reading a book (if it’s good I’ll say more about it later) and in it the author quotes a WWII bomber pilot, “If you’re taking flak, then you’re over the target.” What an analogy for the church and for its leaders.
Lately I feel as if I have been taking flak. I’m not complaining, just sorting out my thoughts and praying to find Christ in all of this. A few months back we had several members of our church leave over a church discipline issue. Feelings were hurt on both sides and it turned ugly pretty quickly. Since that time we have had 30 members leave. Almost weekly I receive a comment or a visitor that tells me there are still unhappy people. On Sunday we had a visitor from another church about 75 miles north of us stop by and let us know how unhappy he is with “the split.” He let several of our members know how unhappy he was and then he left.
We have a small group of families in our church that are opposed to me for a variety of reasons: I am new and young; I believe God’s word is a theological-historical text before it is a scientific or historical text; I condemn homosexual behavior but not homosexuality; I expect the teachers of our school to introduce school families to our church. Because of this I must listen to accusations that once again I am leading my people away from Christ.
The list goes on and in it all I am learning to pray with St. Francis, “My God, My All!” I am beginning to realize that Christ was serious when he said his followers would be persecuted. I have been reading Stanley Hauerwas’s commentary on Matthew in the Brazos Theological Commentaries series. In it he says that those who learn to pray the Lord’s pray will suffer persecution. I suppose that doing the right thing doesn’t make one popular.
It’s not all flak though. We have a young boy (5th grade) in our church family who has been radically opposed to God. His parents divorced when he was little and he blames God. He is constantly reminding me how stupid it is to believe in God and how no one can prove his existence. Last week I preached four messages on holiness to our 4th-8thgrades and at the end of the week and after several conversations with his mother he told her, “Yes. I believe in God and Jesus is my savior.” Now we are getting ready to plan a baptism. Marriages that were breaking apart a few months ago are now thriving. A couple came to me and the husband confessed to adultery and they are seeing healing take place between them. Our drug addicts continue to stay drug free and our alcoholics continue to stay sober. I continue to get phone calls from other churches to let me know that after sharing the truth with them they were able to persuade other members from leaving. God is at work and I wouldn’t trade the flak for anything else.
In praise of Christ!