In the next to last chapter of The Church Awakening, Swindoll reiterates the point he made in the first chapter, in regards to erosion.
He equates the state of the church to the boiling of a frog, an assignment he had in chemistry class in high school. When they placed the frog immediately in boiling water, he hopped out, realizing that it was too painful, too hot, and dangerous. But when they put the frog in room temperature water and slowly increased the heat until it came to a boil, the frog never noticed until it was too late.
The church hasn’t gotten into it’s present state overnight, it has been a slow gradual process that we have allowed to take place , and for some the recognition has come too late. It’s called erosion or you may think of it as drifting. When you throw a small branch or leaf into a moving stream, it doesn’t have anyway to navigate itself, it just “goes with the flow”.
Sadly this is where the majority of our churches are. We’re not standing on the Truth of God’s Word, we’re settling for what appeals to the
consumer, churchgoer and what we think they want to hear.
Swindoll points to Scripture to show that this is no new problem.
Revelation 2:1,4-5 – To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands… But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. (ESV)
We have lost our first love. We have not lost our love for tradition, for the hymns or praise songs, for the programs that we put in place or even for our times of worship, but we have lost our devotion to Jesus. Somewhere along the way we decided that it wasn’t going to be about Him but that it was going to be about us and what we want. In most cases we didn’t mean to, we just drifted.
The final analysis is this:
Churches don’t erode, people do. Churches merely reflect the lives and convictions of those individuals who make up the body of Christ. (pg. 228)
Swindoll closes the chapter with asking the reader to ask themselves two questions:
1. Is Jesus really the first love of my life?
2. Does He truly make a difference in how I live my life? (pg. 233)
Can you honestly acknowledge where you stand in this issue? Some may feel that they have eroded beyond the hope of ever returning to that first love but hope is there,and it’s called repentance. “It’s the only cure for the long drift.” (pg.233)