Posted by: William | April 20, 2008

Internal Problems

John Owen said something this morning during a short devotion that really struck home with me and even commented a bit on my own experience.

“When a tree grows old, or is decaying, it helps to loosen the soil around its base and then to manure it. This may revive it and cause it to flourish again. But if you uproot it and plant it somewhere else—which may appear to be a good thing to do—it will probably wither and die. This is exactly what some spiritual backsliders have done. Finding themselves growing more and more unspiritual, they leave their own church and go over to Rome or to some other denomination, thinking that the fault lies with the teaching of the church they are in, when in reality the fault lies in themselves…”

Have you ever heard the term “church shopping”? I think this is along the lines of what Owen is thinking of here. Of course in his time it would have looked much different I think that the main idea remains the same. When Christians become dry or withered (or we might say bored), instead of looking inwardly to say, why am I not burning with spiritual desire for the Lord, the tendency will be to look outwardly to all the things the Church is doing not to meet their needs. Perhaps the worship isn’t the way they like it. Perhaps the teacher doesn’t speak they way they like it. Maybe the small groups aren’t small enough or maybe they’re not big enough. And so weak Christians might look at these dissatisfactions and then blame their poor spiritual state on them, all the while not realizing that the real problem is within them.

I spent about a solid year doing this. After doing ministry for some time, I left the church I was apart of. I floated around for quite some time looking for some kind of puzzle piece church that would somehow fit into my unbelievably narrow idea of what a church was supposed to be for me, based on my own sin. I didn’t find one.



  1. Cool post William. Very well said. Each case is, of course, unique.

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