Farming in tainted soil
Recently the EPA announced a plan to find and counteract what they called PFAS, or “forever chemicals. “ These are often by products of industrial processes, and so far scientists have found them everywhere they have looked. These synthetic chemicals “glide through air and water with ease, evade all natural processes of decay, and inflict debilitating injuries even at exceedingly low levels of exposure. “
These chemicals can be traced back to big companies and even governments, but for decades most of them turned a blind eye to the problem. Finally the EPA has a plan to address the problem, but at this stage it feels impossible to overcome. Almost everything in our world is tainted with these chemicals, and we won’t know the final results for a long time. These spills can happen or by accident, like a an oil spill or nuclear accident. Everything that is touched by those chemicals is changed forever.
There are few things that have the power to change everything they touch. But the truth is that you and I just lived through several of those things at once. The worldwide pandemic
almost every person on the face of the planet. And the fall out of the 2020 election seems to have touched every church in America. Whatever you think about both of those events, our worlds will never be the same after them.
Like an industrial spill that seeps chemicals into the water and the air, the effects of the global pandemic could be felt in almost every home across the world. People lost loved ones, friendships, jobs, careers, financial security, and so much more. Since the rollout of the vaccine it seems like the stress and anxiety has only gotten worse. In the same way the fallout of the 2020 election, as well as the events before and after it, have affected almost every church and family in America.
Simply put, the soil in the families and communities that we live in, work, and seek to share the gospel in has been tainted by the events of the last few years. Just like scientists find those “forever chemicals” everywhere they look, there is not a place in our lives that has not been touched by the events of the last few years. In fact the world is a completely different place than it was just a few years ago.
So how do we adjust to living in this new and different world? The first thing we must do is acknowledge that it’s there. There is no use in pretending like we can go back to the way things were. Of course we know things are different, but it’s foolish to not face the reality. The soil has been tainted, and it’s impossible to get it all out. As much as I’d like to return to a time when things were a bit easier, they aren’t coming back. And the sooner we admit that we are planting in tainted soil the better off we will be.
The second thing we must do is adjust to this new reality. Just because you have acknowledged the world has changed doesn’t mean you have adjusted to it. Many people refuse to acknowledge that the world has changed and try to live in the past, and that error is often easy to spot. But just because we admit that things are different now doesn’t mean that we have adjusted the way we lead, teach, pray, and share the gospel. At some point every church leader, no matter how forward thinking, will be tempted to just return to methods that worked in the past. Learning to adjust to this new reality is the first step we have to take acknowledging that it’s there. Make sure that you are doing both.
The third thing we must do is trust the power of Christ to do what we can’t. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s hard to minister in this current world. But even the ingrained stains of the the sin of this world are no match for the power of the gospel to make all things new. Even when dealing with tainted soil, we should rest in the fact that greater is He who is in us than whatever is in this world. Our ways and methods will often come up short, but the gospel always hits it’s mark.
When dealing with tainted soil, it’s tempting to think that we don’t have what it takes anymore and want to walk away, but that feeling is only half right. We don’t have what it takes, but instead of giving up we should learn to let Christ do the work we can’t.
Dear church leader, Christ has overcome greater difficulties than what you face today. Even as the world seems to be completely changed, and farming in tainted soil feels foolish, we must learn to trust in God to what we can’t. The cure for our tainted soil is not found in working harder or in better methods. The cure for this present age is found only in Christ and the gospel. The seed of the gospel has the power to always sprout, no matter where it finds itself.