In baseball, "a rundown, informally known as a pickle, is a situation that occurs when the baserunner is stranded between two bases and is in jeopardy of being tagged out. When the base runner attempts to advance to the next base, he is cut off by the defensive player who has a live ball and attempts to return to his previous base before being tagged out. As he is doing this, the defenseman throws the ball past the base runner to the previous base, forcing him to reverse directions again. This is repeated until the runner is put out or reaches a base safely." --Wikipedia
Friends, I submit this is where the church finds herself...caught between decades of following the world and the need to return to Scripture knowing the world (and many in our congregations) won't like it. Caught between taking a shortcut to winning souls and seeing the vast numbers of false converts as a result. Caught between our embracing of the world and its methods and the gnawing feeling that something isn't quite right. Caught between the expectation of preaching pleasant words and seeing our lessening influence in the culture. Caught between the big churches we've built on debt (and the subsequent need to keep the people happy so they keep giving) and the prophetic message that is needed in this hour. Caught between years of minimizing the need for truth and doctrine and the realization that turning back will be hard for that very reason. Often, the saints are so used to breakthrough, blessing, now-seasons, and their "purpose" that "truth" seems strange, dull, and even mean-spirited and judgmental. As a result, the battle that rages for truth isn't going well. As an example, when people can look at Scripture and see in its pages an approval FOR homosexual "marriage", we're in trouble.
We should have never tried to steal a base, and instead taken the tough path.
What's the solution? In my humble opinion...
1. A rejection of carnality and a return to Scripture.
2. A willingness to risk our ministries' "success" by declaring the whole counsel of God.
3. A realization that the key to revival is repentance. In other words, trusting in the Holy Spirit for results, not our human wisdom or strategies.
4. A reformation in church ministry, family and discipling children, evangelism, stewardship, and every other area of life.
5. A regaining of a holy fear of the Lord based on the truth of the judgment to come. So many will face it without Christ.
In other words, we have to realize we are not salesmen. We are not motivational speakers. We are not leadership gurus. We are not here to make the world like us. We are followers of Jesus Christ. He alone draws men. We actually get in His way when we disobey Him.
Therefore we must place His desires above the desires of men. We must dive for first base (a biblical foundation) and pray He gives us grace from being "tagged out". We must go back. We must reform...or take every area of ministry and service back to its biblically intended purpose. That is what reformation is. That's the starting place...and the only we can beat the pickle.
The problem is that "going back" is almost anathema to most leadership driven, "progressive," "culturally sensitive" church leaders. (I love you brothers...but it's true.) We keep trying to "out world" the world. I know I did for years...to my shame. They move and we move. Who's leading who here?
Oh Lord, please forgive us. Forgive us for thinking we know better than you. Forgive us for being ear-scratchers. Forgive us for allowing the "love narrative" to be dictated by the world. Forgive us for our lack of faith and our tolerance of sin in the name of grace. Forgive us for our carnality and unwillingness to be a holy people. Forgive us for sending our children to pagans for their education, allowing sin in our homes, consuming sin in our entertainment, our lack of modesty, and our lack of true love..the love it takes to declare your Word.
Lord, we are in a pickle. We'll only be able to "return" to base by Your Grace. Help us. Please.