I have always been fascinated how engineers can bring down old, unwanted buildings in the middle of a city skyline with relatively little damage to the surrounding area. One thing is for sure in these projects, the engineers are not haphazard in the placement of the explosives. They want the building to implode, not explode. The goal is to have the building collapse and fall straight down, as opposed to an explosion that would send shrapnel out into the city.
“Implosion” is a violent collapse inward, a violent compression, and it is the method of choice when it comes to the demolition of abandoned buildings. However, the word “implosion” has also become a cultural term used to describe someone who has lost control.
A boss who goes on a tirade, a coach who goes on a rant, or a politician whose campaign has lost traction all could be described in popular vernacular as implosions.
I believe such an understanding within the context of God’s people could describe a condition of the soul called spiritual implosion. Spiritual implosion could be understood as a professing believer, one who once had a seemingly vibrant walk with Jesus Christ, suddenly falling away and pursuing other things.
From a pastoral perspective, I would define spiritual implosion as “a violent collapse inward that causes the hardening of the heart which in turn makes it nearly impossible to receive spiritual truth or the filling of the Holy Spirit.” Such a spiritual condition is dangerous and devastating.
Scripture is not silent regarding such a condition. One doesn’t have to imagine very hard the sorrow which filled the Apostle Paul as he wrote of Demas’ spiritual implosion in 2 Timothy 4:10, “Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me.”
It is not difficult for us to understand what is at stake when the writer to the Hebrews warns his readers, “Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”
A major question for every follower of Jesus Christ is, “How do we get to the finish line in this race called the Christian life? How do I run well for the approval of my great God and Savior? How do I fight the good fight and avoid spiritual implosion?”
I believe the answers to those questions are straightforward. The Lord is aware of our implosive tendencies and has given to us specific instructions on how to be strong in Him.
1. We must not neglect the word of God and prayer. There are no substitutes for these spiritual disciplines. It is meditation on the word of God that carries with it the promise of blessing and success. We must savor the promises of God given to us in the Scriptures.
2. We must not forsake the fellowship of God’s people through a local Body.
Implosion begins in the secret place of the heart. The evil one’s strategy is to get us alone and then beat the life out of us. Our local church is God’s answer to that assassin’s plot. We must get up, show up, look up and say with the Psalmist, “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’” We need the accountability and the sharpening that can only come through a covenant membership in a local church.
3. We must rejoice in the Lord more and more, not less and less.
At the heart of this rejoicing is the cross and resurrection. We are to be people glorying in the cross and constantly amazed at what God has done for us through his Son. As we grow older, the vicissitudes of life can take their toll if we are not careful. The resolve of John Piper resonates with me, “I don’t want to be a grumpy old man…. I will resist stereotypes of old people, and play and sing and shout with joy.” With the turning of the calendar, we should be praising Him more and more, not less and less, and with each praise we are fighting off implosive temptations.
4. We must be filled with the Holy Spirit.
What we need in this day of nominal, lukewarm, half-hearted Christianity is to come face-to-face with the command of the Spirit-filled life. The command to be filled with the Holy Spirit found in Ephesians 5:18-20 is for every believer. We are to be carried along and empowered by the Holy Spirit which in turn brings joy, power, gratitude, and submission.
To implode spiritually is catastrophic, and it happens to those within the Body who once appeared like a strong, significant building in a city skyline. Then one day, the collapse, and great is the fall. Watch over your soul and run the race that ends at the Savior’s feet.