Mocking God and
Re-Inventing the Church
The world system: "The Church seems afraid to invest in new modes of being the 'Church', breaking free from antiquated models and irrelevant traditions toward living the gospel in a twenty-first-century context." George Barna, Leaders on Leadership
The Bible: "If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory." Colossians 3:1-4
Our Times: "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ." Colossians 2:8
An alarming distortion of God's Truth has been spreading like a grass fire through America's churches for decades. It calls God's people not just to understand our changing times from the world's perspective, but to blow with the wind and help fuel the transformation.
So, forget the old narrow way that leads to Truth and eternal life in Christ. Forget solid Bible teaching and "the offense of the cross." To win the masses "for Christ", the church must be re-cloaked in a more permissive and appealing image. It must be marketed to the world as "a safe place," purged of the old moral standards that stirred conviction of sin and a longing to separate from the world's immorality. Consequently many church-leaders chose to imagine a new feel-good church stripped of offense -- one that the world could share and claim as its own.
This march toward a supposedly "better world" with more adaptable churches is well under way. Meanwhile, unbending faith in God's uncompromising Word is fading fast. Words like sin, guilt and repentance are rarely mentioned, and today's children and youth are increasingly immersed in the world's spreading decadence. If our churches continue to trade God's glorious Truth for the world's darkening entertainment, much of the next generation of "Christians" will surely lose their way.
Our precious Bible bring us a stark warning -- one that we had better heed! Remember God's warning to Israel as His people settled in their new land:"Now Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died.... When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel.
"Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served the Baals; and they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt; and they followed other gods ...and they provoked the Lord to anger. ... So He delivered them into the hands of plunderers who despoiled them; and He sold them into the hands of their enemies all around, so that they could no longer stand before their enemies." Judges 2:8,10-14.
Does that ancient threat sound familiar? It should! God has provided many similar warnings in the past. And today, America is headed for trouble!
For those who keep up with the sobering news and the rising threats facing our nation, we have a choice. Will we foolishly ignore the warnings, or will we humbly turn to Him in prayer, humility and repentance? God's Word doesn't lie, and His warnings now as always call for a response from His people. History shows the consequences of ignoring His call and following our own foolish inclinations!
Testing the New Spirituality
In these changing times, many church leaders are seeking ways to slow or stop the spreading exodus from their traditional churches. They are eager to trade Biblical sermons and sobering warnings for a measure of fun and laughter. And that's exactly what our church had planned for the week after Easter. The bulletin labeled it "Liturgical Helps for Holy Humor Sunday."
I chose not to be there, but had I attended that service, I would have shared my concerns over the unbiblical teaching! Ponder this supposedly "entertaining humor" that was anything but holy:
Leader: "This is the day to laugh: What did the garden variety pastor say to the people?"
People: "Lettuce pray."
Leader: "How many choir directors does it take to change a light bulb?"
People: "No one knows, because no one ever watches the director...."
Leader: "What is the greatest joke ever?"
People: "The one God played on Death on Easter morning!"
According to the bulletin, "God was still Laughing." The church members would be treated to "Theology through Jokes" - or as the bulletin labeled it: "Liturgical Helps for Holy Humor Sunday." I don't think my Lord was pleased!
The first of the "Holy Humor Hymns" was labeled “Take Time to be Funny,” replacing the precious old hymn: "Take Time to be Holy." Ponder the words and the message, which would surely distract the participants from the original meaning:Take time to be funny, rejoice in the Lord.Let laughter explode, and have fun with God’s WordFor laughter is healing, gives strength to the weakGod loves to see smiles, they lift up the meek.
The next two verses began with this unholy advice: "Take time to be silly, it’s good for the soul" and "For humor is holy, it sanctifies life." Of course, neither statement is true. From a Christian perspective, such silliness is contrary to God's Word, and the supposed "humor" is neither holy nor edifying. But apparently some find it funny -- and therefore acceptable.
Here are some more examples:
Brethren we have met to worship and enjoy a laugh or two.
If you're seeking dismal fellowship this is not the place for you.
When you giggle, smirk and chuckle, joy will fill this holy place
Take the risk of forming wrinkles, let elation crease your face.
Jesus set the great example telling us to laugh and love (Where is that taught in the Bible?)
What's the point of being solemn on our way to heaven above?...
Apparently our leaders didn't know that some people will fail to enter God's eternal heaven!
Next on the agenda was a collection of silly jokes. Apparently they fit the planned context, but -- like the songs above -- they ridicule God's guidelines. These foolish attempts to present us with a silly, imaginary "God" who thinks like us, is actually mocks and demeans our Holy Lord! Why would true Christians enter into such a senseless game?
Does our Holy Lord and King "snicker" and "giggle" and "howl?" What demeaning mockery of our heavenly Father!
Snickering at the feeble attempts of the evil one,
You showed us how to resist temptation.
Giggling at sin's desperate desire to hold on to us,
You released us by your love.
Howling with laughter at death's foolish belief that the tomb could hold you,
you burst forth into the light as sun, moon and the stars pealed with joy -- laughing Jesus!
And finally, here is a short statement from the actual sermon for the day -- a week after we celebrated Easter with its reminders of our Lord's cruel death and His glorious resurrection!
"We who have been in church for a long time have heard this message so many times over and over that it losses its power over time .... we're not impressed any more... that Jesus died and rose again. Its like watching your tenth child learn to walk..."
The Solution: Abiding in Christ
Jesus said, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:31-32
Our wonderful Lord is my eternal King, my Shepherd, my Helper, and my dearest Friend! He is always with me, encouraging and guiding me, teaching and correcting me. He is my Shepherd and I am His sheep! How great He is!!! And how blessed am I!
What in the world was our church leaders contemplating when they initiated that unbiblical mockery of God's Word a week after Easter? May He have mercy on our Church family and use this travesty to bring us all closer to Him!!
"... in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!
"...all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned..." 2 Timothy 3:1-14
"Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things..." 2 Timothy 4:2-5
"There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." Romans 8:1-6
As His disciple, I must follow His narrow and rocky way. But the Lord is my Shepherd and I'm never alone! What a joy it is to walk and talk with Him through the day! An old hymn summarizes the disciple's walk well:
When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small:
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
George Barna, editor, Leaders on Leadership
(Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1997), page 29.
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