Every year now I go to the ophthalmologist for an annual eye exam. It is required or strongly suggested by the endocrinologist for type two diabetics. I could not imagine having diabetes. No one in my family history has it, but I do. It was called age onset type 2. The test is to make sure there is no damage to the eyes from the disease. So far, each exam has been good. And each time I see the endocrinologist I am asked if I have had the exam.
It seems that as you go through life it is filled with surprises, some good and some bad, or maybe just the facts of life. We have no control over these events most times. I have attempted through life to eat well and stay in fairly good shape. But still, here we are.
Following the Lord is like that too. There are surprises good and bad, but the confidence comes in the fact you are called and being directed into situations that can bring surprise. When these events happen we often have to have an "I" exam. It causes you to take stock of yourself, check things out. I find myself asking, "Did I miss something, make a mistake?" "What did I do wrong?" "Why did I not see this coming, or Why did I not see this?"
The "I" exam is a good exercise. Through the years I have found that I have been blind to a number of things. We all live in certain environments that either shelter us or expose us. We are formed by those experiences and routines.
While in a pastors' meeting we were talking about how ill prepared we were for the ministry in our training. College was good. I enjoyed it. I was preparing for the ministry. We studied the Bible, looking at sections such as Old Testament, New Testament, Prophets, Letters of Paul etc. We studied Greek and how to preach. We studied history. I loved it. However, when faced with day to day ministry, we found we had no training in church administration, church finances, handling conflict, dealing with church boards, or counseling. No one taught about the legal matters that would come either.
All these things have been learned by experience, both good and bad. Seminars helped and conferences helped and reading books helped, but no one was prepared for the harshness of human conflict in church. So, "I" exams have come frequently.
Then there is the routines of church life that become ingrained in our lives and the life of the church. We can trudge through routines that are religiously satisfying, but may not be life to the spirit within. We drift from one fad to another, all the time trying to reach people. We get locked into certain mindsets that may or may not be godly. For instance, some believe that seekers will come to the church for help. Yet, there are very few who seek. Likewise, we think that a better program or building will draw people. We look to mega churches and see this working, but the scary fact is that most of the mega church is filled with people drawn from other churches. True conversions are lacking.
This is where the church (meaning all of Christianity) needs an "I" exam. For the past two years at least, I have been prompted by God to stay in the New Testament and particularly to read the gospels over and over. I was instructed to look for Jesus. What did Jesus teach? Forget all the extrapolations of modern teaching and dig down to Jesus and his teachings. What an eye opener! Also as I was released to push through the rest of the New Testament; I was given a new set of glasses to read by.
You know, we get a new prescription sometimes as our eyes change. This eye change came in spiritual matters as well. I had to look at the New Testament with a new prescription. It made me able to read finer, more closely, and read things more in line with the teachings of Jesus.
I believe the church is going through a serious eye exam and we are going to come out a lot better with the new set of glasses. We will see more clearly and definitively. I am excited with what I see and what is to be revealed.