Monday, January 28, 2008

From Polluted to Pure

A dear friend told me an incredible story: the Ganges River - known to be one of the most polluted bodies of water in the world in its Upper portion - actually contains some of the purest water in the world in the Lower portion. The National Geographic article she listened to observed that ancient mariners would actually "load up" their ships with the Lower Ganges water because it would be good for their entire trip back across the ocean!

Recent studies have revealed that what makes the Lower Ganges so pure is a by-product of the very pollution that makes the Upper Ganges so unusable. Specifically, bacteriophages grow to combat the pollutants, so that by the time the water filters down to the Lower Ganges, it is purified to an unbelieveable degree. It's gone from polluted to pure.

That got me thinking about society - my society, your society, even within the church. We see so much "pollution" - I've heard from many of you who despise much of the "filth" of where you are, even while loving those made dirty by it. Yet the natural example of the Ganges is a reminder that the very pollution we shudder at can become a catalyst for the "bacteriophages" that purify.

Historically this has happened: After the blending of church and state under Constantine, nominalism and corruption within the church skyrocketed. Lay believers who were troubled responded by establishing the early monasteries, which couldn't remain on the fringes for long. Drawn by authentic Christianity, people flocked to hear the wisdom of these hermits, and often strong missions efforts resulted. Later, in the late Middle Ages, the corruption of the Catholic Church prompted reformers to proclaim a message of pure "faith alone" - and the result was so dramatic that even the Catholic Church experienced a Counter-Reformation in an attempt to purify itself. Polluted to pure is not just a natural principle - it can be a spiritual one!

What "pollution" is frustrating you today in your ministry context? Ask God to help you use the pollution as a catalyst for holy bacteriophages - to bring purity out of pollution.

He is faithful.

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