It is sometimes interesting how God reveals things to you. Within the last couple of days I have been reading voraciously a yet to be published book by a friend. In this book, he deals a lot with the Holy Spirit, and It’s role within the Church, the community, and its people. He makes the argument that a church, or the Church, can quench the working and movement of the Holy Spirit when it becomes too self-focused, too concerned about its own needs, and too concerned about programming, buildings, and focuses on building up a fortress mentality. When a Church, or church, slips into this mentality, it often becomes numb to the outside world, and fails to grasp its mission as a community of believers. It fails to be the Church.
Well, this reading coincided with a great swarm of bees that has been buzzing around our backyard wall that we share with our neighbor (the above photo is not from our house). Apparently, the bees have been returning to this spot the last couple of years, so our neighbors had the cracks in the wall patched up and the bees fumigated. Apparently that wasn’t enough though. They are apparently able to smell the honey inside the wall, and thinking the Queen is still in there, they have been gathering in great numbers, trying to get in. It’s pretty much a horror scene in our backyard as about 5,000 bees or so clumped on our backyard wall all day, until they finally dispersed at about 6pm. I guess they had to be somewhere. Well last night was different. This time they didn’t leave, and it was a little unnerving. So my neighbor comes over to spray them with water and soap, and I’m thinking, “are you nuts” and should I stand inside the house and watch you.
But I was amazed at how docile the bees were as they had clumped together for warmth, and for sleep for the rest of the night. He casually sprayed the whole swarm until they were all dead. And to confirm that, I came out this morning, only to find thousands of bees dead on the ground and the wall. Interesting sight.
This made me think of the Holy Spirit, and churches that go into fortress mentality. When a church only becomes concerned about itself, and wants to protect itself, and its numbers, and growth and money, it moves into a me, me, me phase. The community swarms around each other for protection, and slowly lulls itself into a docile community because it has failed to move outward into mission and community, and is only concerned about the inside. When a church does this, they fail to embrace the moving of the Spirit, and lull themselves to sleep until it is too late. They wake up sooner or later and realize that they are spiritually dead. They might have programs, and job titles, and small groups, and great worship, but all in the form of religion only. A religion without the Spirit.
I hope that as a community we embrace the outward mission that the Holy Spirit is calling us to, rather than boarding up our community so that we can hold down the fort and protect what we have. Because if we do that, it might be too late.