On a whole, NO. The western church has become self-serving, self-reliant and self-motivated. God is not pleased. We are in an Ichabod culture, the Glory of the Lord has departed. How has this occurred? We have left our first love. Our churches are failing, sure some of the mega churches seem to be thriving, however the smaller churches which produced so much in way of teaching and discipleship have died. They are the ones that produced young people that desired to go into ministry because of God’s call, not because they see a big pay check at the end. They were the ones that knew the heart of the community, not the ones who were a community of their own. They were the ones who wanted to bring people to Jesus, not the ones who wanted to add to the number attending, like a club. They were the ones who prayed for rain, not the ones who pray for increased programs. They were the ones that went to visit others, not the ones who advertise for visitors.
You may say, well why did they die? They died due to the new mentality that crept into them, the young people, so full of promise, got their faith beat out of them in seminary. They were taught programs instead of Christ. These things do not work in the real world of rural community. Slick programming does not provide comfort to a family whose child is dying of leukaemia. Show business, does not address the need for salvation to those who are in need of Jesus in their lives. Brochures do not bring rain for farmers whose fields are dry. Big musical numbers do not equate to going two by two to invite people to Christ.
We have replaced Jesus commands with man’s wisdom. Though in the following list there is truth to be found in what we do, it is not the whole truth:
We have replaced faith in God’s provision to faith in positive mental attitude.
We have replaced God’s word with books about God’s word.
We have replaced God’s means of bringing others to Christ, with man’s desire for bigger and better showmanship.
We have replaced God’s discipline with man’s psychology.
We have replaced God’s commandments, with man’s suggestions.
We have replaced God’s definition of sin as men’s “mistakes”.
Because of these things we have become a church that Jesus says makes him physically ill. We have heaped to ourselves teachers that make us feel good about ourselves, but brings no repentance. We are raising kids who have no concept of what modesty means. Our churches are full of middle aged people who dress like they are in their late teens. We come and dine but never feed the poor. We have churches full of people who are “ever learning, but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” We raise our hands to worship, but never open them to help someone in need of shelter. We have literally become a force unto our selves.
Our church is sick in the head. We have pastors that do drugs, cavort with homosexual prostitutes, embezzle money, lord it over the flocks God has given them, do not teach nor endure sound doctrine, accept other religions as legitimate, accept homosexuals into leadership positions, allow those living together after attending for years to keep attending……….. but DO NOT PREACH AGAINST SIN.
In third world countries, where they need God to show up due to illness, lack of food, etc. HE SHOWS UP. Why, because of their faith. He heals, he encourages, he brings rain. They believe and have faith because they have too!
We in the west on the other hand really don’t need God. That is the paradox. God blesses this country, then we turn our backs of what he calls us to do. Who needs God, we have the Government. Well, the government can’t heal, the government can’t replace the missing part of what C.S. Lewis described as “Men without chests”. Their spiritual man.
Does God show up for individuals? A definite yes! Are there works going on out there that God is pleased with? Again, a definite yes. But the majority are playing church, not living it.
We need to go back to the Bible. We need to do what God tells us to do and Jesus directed us to do. We need to listen to him and learn of him. If he says that we should go two by two, it does not matter that studies suggest it is not effective. If he says to love your neighbour, waving at them won’t do. We live in a sin sick Satan serving society, and we are sitting on the sidelines sipping iced mochas watching them slip into an eternity of doom. Yet we go to churches where girls wear the tightest clothes possible, where boys are trying to hook up, where men are having meetings complaining about their lives, and women are comparing notes on the latest fashion trend. Where is God? He is crying in divorce court, just like many of his “disciples” are. His Glory HAS Departed.
I am as guilty of this as all those others that do the same things I just wrote about. But I am determined in my heart to change. What about YOU? Are you willing to forsake the things that are behind and press forward to the HIGH calling of God? If we love him, he has stated, we will obey him.
Next time: Perilous Times and the Boy Scout Motto?