This post is from my other blog, www.churchburned.com. Check it out.
For decades, canaries were used in coal mining as a warning system to alert miners to dangerous levels of carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide. These little birds sing most of the time, so as long as the canary was singing, the miners knew it was still safe to work. If the bird was silenced, killed because of the presence of poisonous gas, the miners would evacuate the mine until it could be made safe.
The analogy of the canary in the coal mine is often used to describe the person or persons who attempt to warn others of a situation that is going awry. Yesterday I began applying this concept to the Church. Is there an effective warning system in our churches? When things are going wrong, what signals do we follow, what actions do we take to make it safe again?
People are leaving the church. Many strong followers of Jesus are walking with Him outside of a traditionally accepted institutional community because they’ve found it to be too dangerous on the inside. Trusted voices are being silenced by a message of love that is tainted with toxic levels of politics and pride.
When these trusted people stop “singing,” do we take it as a warning sign or do we just replace them with someone who will perform on command? If we continually repeat the pattern, replacing the dying bird without venting the poisonous gas and correcting the problem, the quality of life will never improve. The canary may be more sensitive and succumb more quickly, but the same toxic fumes are negatively affecting the health of rest of the people as well.
It’s been half a year since we stopped singing. Like the canary’s silent alarm, our exit was quiet, to the casual observer it may have even appeared peaceful; yet there was nothing peaceful about those last violent, painful gasps for air and eventual suffocation. How many more will succumb to the noxious fumes before someone throws the doors open, letting the fresh wind of the Holy Spirit refresh the air supply with Jesus’ love?
Breathe. Just breathe.
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’
Matthew 22:37,38 MSG