Thursday, August 16, 2007

Glory Exchanged



Last night I did something that I’ve not done in a really long time - I went to church. Well, I’ve been attending/being the “church”, in it’s true sense and definition quite frequently, but last night I actually attended a structured church service. Interestingly enough, I looked up “service” and one of the definitions states this: a ritual or form prescribed for public worship or for some particular occasion. A ritual? A form? Uh oh. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all about structure when done correctly. Take the temple for example - every last detail was in place for the sole purpose of glorifying God. Order was established with great thought and planning, but it was ALL to usher in God’s glory.

On that note, take a look at Romans 1:18-32, verses 22 and 23 particularly. They state that “Professing to be wise, they became fools and EXCHANGED THE GLORY for an image in the form of corruptible man…” In my opinion this is a message to the modern day churches and their “services”. These 15 verses seem to sum up the majority of the mainstream church with one sweeping blow. Verse 25 says, “For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator...” You and I, my friend are the creature and we’ve made it all about us.

Last night specifically, I watched a nearly comatose “worship leader” lull everyone into a stupor as the congregation repetitiously recited the well-known hymns (that are absolutely filled with life and Truth, by the way). I watched as a grandmother kept firmly placing her hand on her young granddaughters shoulders because she was swaying too much to the music, reminding her that church was no place to move or respond to “worship”. I heard countless conversations about the weather, “Billy’s” tractor accident and other surface gibberish, none of which I was invited to be a part of, of course. The message was great – challenging and filled with truth, actually out of the Romans text that I just mentioned. But what will be done with it? Will it be filed away in the “Yet another challenging message that I turn a deaf ear to” folder of church life?

After we all stood in line to shake Pastor’s hands and tell them how great they had done, we began to make or way home. I cannot express how I had felt like I had just visited some foreign land. That 90 minutes was so incredibly bizarre and lethargic to me that I could barely find words to express it. Keep in mind that I was, at one time, on staff at two different churches very much like this one, but now it all seemed so different. (I never was into the boredom aspect of traditional church, but it surely never got to me like last night did.) I even shared with a friend that was with us that I didn’t feel in the slightest that I had just spent an evening with like-minded followers of Christ. Now I’m not so ignorant as to insinuate that every church is boring or spiritually lifeless, but too much emphasis is always on the pastor, the offerings, the buildings, the needs, the programs - more than the One we’re supposed to be there to worship and honor in the first place.

Now let me inject some personal reality into this before you assume that I’m saying they all need to be like me. Am I too often lethargic and guilty of suppressing the Holy Spirit? Yes. Do I struggle with promoting my kingdom rather than my Heavenly Father’s? Yes. But, but but – I am not in a constant state of complacency that is blatantly opposing the Word of God. I am not exchanging His great glory for monotony and corruption. I truly will not settle for boredom and complacency – I won’t! Regarding the organized church, I love these people, truly. I have such a burden for the millions of church-goers that know NOTHING of who God really is and how He longs to revive them and unveil their eyes. I know I must continue to remove the 2 by 4 in my eye in order to remove their specks, but I’m working on it.

We must not settle for less than what God promises us through His Word. Read it people! Don't just been spoon-fed whatever someone else has studied or got off of the internet. It is not telling us to sit on our overfed rear ends and vegetate into a religion-ized zombie clique! As a friend recently told me, it’s time for us to come outside of the gate, out of the camp and seek a lasting city, as Hebrews 13 states. This may sound too crazy for some of you, but I’d encourage you to assess why you “need” to attend church or why you categorize people that do as better than those that don’t. You have been invited to dwell daily in heavenly places at the right hand of the Father, don’t settle for just a church pew.

6 comments:

kristin said...

Well said. I too was shaken by how much last night disturbed my spirit. I know that God has taken us to a new place in Him when we can come away from a service like the one last night and be saddened by it instead of angry. He is truly changing and transforming us in ways that most don't know. I am definitely more challenged to share Truth with those who have been lulled into a deep sleep.

Amanda said...

I am so with you on this.. I was Without church for A LONG time, God had to lead me to a place that he ordained for me to attend. A church that isn't seeping with the religion rituals of man but led by the Spirit of GOD. I feel for my case The Lord tell me I needed a Pastor/Shepard to lead me and guide me if I waundered off the straight and narrow path to draw me back. I know we are supposed to go thru a wilderness time where we are without a church home, at least those of us with certin callings need that time alone with God to develop discernment and be SURE the voice we are hearing is GODS voice. That way we can know automatically if Someone is preaching the WORD of GOD or the doctrine of Man. But when God does release us and lead us to the right church home we will grow and flourish. We'll have the much needed covering of a Church home. In that way you can excerse your gifts from the Spirit of God and grow. and believe me You'll GROW RAPIDLY!!

Joel Spencer said...

Amanda,

Thanks for stopping by and posting! Some of the things you stated caught my attention. For example, you said, "I know we are supposed to go thru a wilderness time where we are without a church home". I'm curious where that belief originated. For a while I thought that was true too, but I realized I was only allowing myself to be ruled by guilt instead of God's Word. My being in church or not has NOTHING to do with my closeness to the Lord.

As you stated, we truly do need mentors and ones further down the road than us to hold us accountable and teach us. It's my prayer for you however that your spirit will flourish, that you'll exercise your gifts and allow the Spirit of God to grow you in ALL occasions, in and out of a "church home".

Come back anytime, your input will always be valued!

Jimmy Hope said...

"Having a FORM of religions but denying the power"... We must in this hour ... follow Jesus. God is totally working "Christ-likeness" in his people. He is at work to make us just like Jesus!!!
How many religious services did Jesus attend? How many buildings did Jesus build? How many pastors did Jesus hire? How many programs did Jesus organize? How big was the worship team Jesus had? How
many revival services did Jesus conduct? To be like Jesus is to live like Jesus ... to be as Jesus .. to be Jesus to this world.
We have the mind of Christ, we have His Spirit (the Holy Spirit), we have Him (His Word) alive in us.
Maybe we too can reach the point where it is no longer "we" who live but Christ" who lives in us.
Religion is man's attempt to reach God ... relationship is God's attempt to reach man. Everything we do in this hour must be relational and not religious. Right on brother!!! I'll meet you just outside the gate ... just outside the city and we'll help
rebuild Zion ... the City of our
God!!!! Blessings and peace to you and to all....

Jimmy Hope

Watching+Praying said...

Well you're right It is not a matter of something we all must do. To put it better would be There is times in our life when what we are recieving is Just plain not good enough and we seek something better and in my case It was a wilderness experience of "no church home" I got sick of the rituals of men and decided I'd rather Worship God at home rather than conform to a dead religous "service" I am getting the belief of a wilderness experience from the fact that Elijah, John the baptist even Jesus went into the wilderness for a Season. But You're right it isn't going without a church home for all of us, God is so Mighty and Awesome he doesn't always send us thru the same experiences to teach us a similar lesson. I will take note and ask God to "Serch me O God, and know my heart: try me and know my thoughts, and see if there be any wicked way in me and lead mew in the way everlasting." Psa 139:23-24
I don't want to be ruled by guilt thanks for pointing that out, I really need to be more careful how I word things! ---Amanda

Kay said...

Here I am at 60 and experiencing that reality for me is being the Church not attending one. Asking God for the Timothy's, and seeing God bring the hungry ones out to meet Him. - PLEASE - Know the Master I mean really know Him, be a Paul to someone, training teaching and above all loving them. This is the day, the hour for the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in Heaven. It is available to us, it really is. Joel I believe Holy Spirit allowed you to see the state of the church today. [He sees it that way, way too often] May the real Church, His Body, His Bride arise.
Kay