Thursday, August 16, 2007
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.