a fictional tale written from the perspective of a heavenly visitor
When I went to observe, here is what I found.
The people no longer pray.
Cursory prayers are offered, but almost always in passing or with a half-thought dwelling on another matter. They seem to know nothing of a singular focus and instead feel compelled to constant multi-tasking. They’ve been fed a diet of productivity and busyness and, for the most part, they now know nothing else.
It has been widely accepted that there aren’t enough hours in the day and so to dedicate large chunks of time to a non-productive activity, such as private prayer, is deemed irrelevant and unnecessary.
Instead, they’ve found ways to accomplish the tasks without prayer. Joining forces, building systems, securing funding, and redefining the supernatural have allowed them to do without quite contentedly. Therefore, “their eyes bulge with abundance; they have more than heart could wish.”
Some still hold onto the rituals of prayer, but it is more demonstration than dependence. They have all reached the same conclusion - whatever we do not have, we can secure in other ways. Prayer is inefficient and ineffective.
They no longer read.
A book has been left for them containing the very words of God, but very few read it. Some have no time, as I wrote about above, and others don’t understand it. There are even some who attack the validity of the words, especially the parts they don’t agree with. There are many who are strengthened to dismiss large sections of the book or to impose an enlightened cultural viewpoint upon the words - saying to themselves as they read it, “Surely what they meant to say was this.”
The ones who do read the book use it more as a textbook than the words of life. They appear to study it intently for the primary purpose of winning arguments or coming to a confidence in their intellectual position. It is memorized but not meditated upon. It influences their words but has not changed their hearts.
Because very few read with understanding, there is a movement at hand to make the book more relevant, digestible, and modern. This has led to new translations, even shorter devotionals, and the heavy use of emotional media. What they don't seem to grasp is that very few read because very few desire to read. And without desire, no amount of modernization will make any impact.
They no longer obey.
What surprised me the most were the results of their surveys. After observing their behavior in private, I expected to find none professing Christ publicly. However, this was not the case. Instead, many called themselves by the name of Christian - follower of Christ - 31% of the entire world’s population according to one of their most well-respected reports.
I reviewed my notes to make sure I wasn’t missing something, perhaps the translation of the word meant something different here, but it all checked out. There is no other conclusion I can think of besides this - there is a great difference between public and private with these people.
This confused me, and I have no explanation for it, other than to say there must be some reward that makes it worth it for them.
I can only hope that they soon heed Your caution, as spoken through one of their own who came before, “let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. And by this we know that we are of the truth.”
Yet there is a remnant.
It must also be confidently reported that there remains a “remnant according to the election of grace,” I am quoting from the eternal words of life here, as You will well know. While some within the remnant feel alone, the Spirit accomplishes His work to perfection and continues to remind them of their sure hope. He never seems to tire of hearing the same question, “I alone am left?” For His answer always comes back with such compassionate sturdiness, as if it is the first time He has had to address such a concern, “Do not fear. I have reserved for Myself a remnant.”
It is as You spoke about from the foundation of the world, this remnant knows You and there is a great fear of You before their eyes. They also love You, with a deep and intense affection that makes all other loving relationships pale in comparison. They are willing to forsake all for You, and in fact, many of them have.
And even in all this, they do not lose heart. While this is a fact that has been eternally true according to Your declaration, that you would not lose a single one, it still feels at times that their faith hangs in the balance. With the amount of pressure, the level of deception, the number who are falling away, the constant stream of voices calling out from the right and the left, this remnant is under a constant barrage of attacks. It can be reported though that Your word remains intact, it has not failed, and those who trust in this Word have yet to be disappointed.
Until next time,
The story builds upon an earlier post I wrote back in January (linked below). And while this fictional tale takes on an exaggerated tone, I hope it highlights matters of great importance.
As always, in love,