I get a lot of cultural insight into what the health of the church is here in Guatemala while reading the Bible with Edna, my language teacher. In 2 week we will have read all of the New testament minus the gospels and Revelation so there are a lot of topics covered and a lot of questions to ask.
Edna is a believer but she is just starting to walk with the Lord and she's just starting to work through what it means to be a Christian.
Here in Guatemala there are Catholics and Protestants/Evangelicals. But they hate each other. I mean, its like its Europe mid-1500's. Not a lot of love lost there. And I certainly have enormous doctrinal problems with the Catholics. But where is it written we're supposed to hate them?
There are many wonderful, mature, growing Evangelical churches here. And what a blessing to see the Lord moving and working in them. We attend a great church here.
And then there are the others. Imagine if you has sextuplets and they were all 2 1/2 and they all wanted the same toy and had missed their nap and lunch and had a really poopy diaper - imagine that interaction and that's about what the churches look like here.
People scream at each other because they think it is sinful to clap in church. They point fingers and judge and blame and hiss and spit and crucify one another. They make minutiae into dogma and Satan laughs at the carnage. He laughs because they have, by there own arrogance, castrated themselves from the Great Commission. Harsh language? I'm holding back.
I know several people who refuse to attend church because it is not a place of worship but a checklist of rightness. People feel they must measure up to enter the doors. And they make the church into a fortress which is never what was intended.
And I am here. Not by accident. And my passionate response is no farce. I cannot wait to see what the Lord wants to do. Paul says we can be "noble vessels" for the Lord. Like a chalice (or a coffee mug) in the hand of a king. What marvelous things can the Lord accomplish through His people? And there are brothers and sisters who have a true heart for the Lord and lack only the training to effect their world for Christ. Who desire something as wonderful as how to study the Bible. How to read it. To apply it. How amazing.
But for now, I need to keep learning the language. Whew.
It's hard to stay bridled for what lies ahead.