The Church in America is, for all practical purposes, powerless. I have no stones of accusation or judgment to throw at her; instead I simply state a troubling fact. I am a part of her and this sad truth is obvious to anyone who reads their Bible. She no longer resembles the militant Bride found in the book of Acts, who trampled and routed the kingdom of darkness like a conquering army. Like Sleeping Beauty, she has swallowed a lie and fallen asleep. Sadly the slumber of the Church has lasted far longer than the one hundred year nap of the fairy tale character.
At her birth, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead filled the infant church’s lungs with a resurrection fire that had the capability of bringing the dead back to life, both literally and figuratively. The enemy could not withstand her power so he purchased it. That’s right; he bought it for almost nothing with some cheap trinkets and worthless baubles called prestige, fame, riches, and influence. For almost 1,800 years the Church has sought the power of the world rather than releasing the power of the Holy Spirit who resides within her. Her pristine gown has become soiled with the stains of worldliness, and unbelief has shackled her like a prisoner in the stocks.
Like the Old Testament hero Samson, the Church possesses an anointing that is unrivaled—beyond belief. The power of God resides in her and is accessible to her. But, like Samson, she is more concerned with her wants than with what God wants. She has forsaken her anointing or worse merchandised it like a prostitute to obtain a comfort level that looks amazingly like a coma. Samson played games with both the anointing and his people until he was lulled to sleep on the lap of Delilah, the devil’s handmaiden. That nap costs him more than the price of a haircut; it cost him the presence of God. Tragically, his response is no different than ours: “I will do the things I have always done”—but with one major difference—the Lord had departed from him.
In the 13th century, the famous theologian Thomas Aquinas visited Rome for an audience with Pope Innocent IV. The pope took Aquinas on a tour of the Vatican treasury and showed him the church’s priceless treasures of jewels, art, gold and silver. As Aquinas looked on the massive wealth, the Bishop of Rome rather smugly said, “So, you see, Thomas, we cannot say as did St. Peter, ‘silver and gold have I none.’” And with a deep sadness in his voice, Aquinas replied to the pontiff, “No, but neither can you say, ‘rise up and walk.’”
Our Sleeping Beauty rests on a golden bed entangled in the invisible chains of worldliness. She has obtained everything she ever dreamed of, but in the process lost that which is most precious. And the saddest part of this story…we are not even aware that He’s gone.