The other day we went out on a small road trip to the neighboring villages surrounding Rapla. Nestled in one of the thickets near such a village stood a church, ruined through weathering and neglect. There is a particular history behind how the church came to be in such a state, though I pondered the broader question the scene brought to mind: is the church too much like a snail, defining its existence by its shell?
By outward appearances, Joseph seemed to have a good beginning of life. He was favored by his father, exemplified in his unique coat, and received dreams in which he saw himself in a position above the other members of his family. When his brothers grew jealous they sold him into slavery after stripping of his coat. They dipped the coat in blood to make it look as though Joseph had been killed, causing their father to enter into mourning. The destruction of Joseph’s outer life, however, led him into a position where he was able to provide for the needs of his family. In his speech self-revealing speech to his brothers, he states “And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God” (Genesis 45:5-8a, ESV). Joseph saw that the destruction of his earlier life led to him being able to apply himself in a new context where he was able to better help others. In this speech, he recognizes the authority God had throughout the entire process.
The church, once given a beautiful building/coat/shell, has been stripped of its exterior. Where might God be leading the Church (which remains committed to Christ as its head) that it may better reach the lives of others?
(Link to a study done about the history and current proceedings about the pictured church and others like it across Estonia: http://www.ainova.sk/files/file/BHCD%20Abandoned%20Buildings%20and%20Public%20Involvement.pdf)