I sometimes wonder exactly what goes through the minds of other Christians. Do they think the same way I do? Are their beliefs mirror images of my own? Are they as really as devout as their outward actions would suggest? It’s a topic I’ve wondered about.
I have acquaintances in my life that I cannot fully understand, from a spiritual point of view. One example: a good friend of mine, a police officer, truly accepted salvation, worships our Lord, prays every day, and testifies to the wonders of Jesus. The one drawback: his foul language, which is worse than some atheists I’ve met. I fully understand that we all sin, and there is something that we all have which we should rid ourselves of. I just can’t understand his use of colorful metaphors. As my pastor says, when I got saved, I lost 80% of my vocabulary.
Another problem I see in society is the society in the church. Specifically, the way some churches have become more like country clubs. Everyone who walks in the door is wearing a wardrobe that costs more than my week’s salary, and they all drive either luxury sedans, luxury mini-vans, or luxury SUV’s. I’m not condemning those who have nice things, who have the money to afford them. Where I find concern is when the people don’t own the stuff, the stuff owns them.
Some churches nowadays even look down on people who don’t ‘dress up’ to attend worship service. This reminds me James 2:2, where James criticizes churches for treating those wearing goodly apparel better than those wearing vile raiment.
I’m also reminded of a story told at the 87th Annual Lawrence County (TN) Baptist Association meeting, by Bro. Chris Littrell, pastor of Trinity Baptist in Lawrenceburg, TN.
The story goes as follows: A poor local farmer goes to a new church on Sunday morning. He hasn’t attended church in awhile, and has felt the call of God to return to the congregation.
The man doesn’t have any nice clothes, so he wears what he owns: a plain t-shirt and a pair of jeans, albeit with holes in them. The clothes are clean, but stained and ragged. He can’t afford any new clothes to wear to church.
The minister, wearing a tailored, custom suit, approaches the man and reluctantly welcomes him to the church, while looking over his choice of clothing.
“Sir, hasn’t anyone ever told you the proper attire to wear to church and worship God?” the pastor asked.
“Well, sir, I thought we were supposed to wear what we could afford, and come to worship, with love in our hearts,” the man replied, taken aback by the preacher’s comments.
“Sir, I want you to understand, that you really should wear nicer clothing when you attend the House of the Lord. In fact, I want you to go home tonight, and pray, throughout the week, and ask God what you should wear next Sunday morning,” the pastor told him.
The man agreed, and service proceeded, with several condescending looks cast upon the newcomer.
The following week, the man returned to the church, wearing the same outfit, and sat down in the same pew.
The pastor, upon seeing him, became impatient and approached him again.
“Sir, do you recall what I told you to do about praying to God?” he asked.
“Yes, I do. I prayed to him, just like you asked me to,” the man replied.
“Well, what did God tell you about the proper attire to wear to this Sunday morning worship service?” the pastor demanded.
“Well, sir, he told me he didn’t have any idea what the proper attire is to wear to this church, because he has yet to enter the doors himself.”
I don’t know if this event has ever actually occurred in any churches, although I feel very strongly that it has. This is a clear example, though, of the problems within some American churches. Society has invaded the church, rather than the church invading society. Rather than trying to have an impact on society, we’ve let society have an impact on our churches. When going to church becomes a routine, when it becomes an opportunity to socialize with your neighbor, rather than with God, it’s time to re-examine our souls, our hearts and our relationships with the Father.
Another example of allowing society to invade the church: some churches are now calling for a relaxing of the rules in regards to homosexuality. These churches believe that a practicing homosexual should still be able to join the church and be an active member. I disagree, because I feel that the homosexual should first repent and then join the church.
Reaching out to homosexuals is important. Their souls are just as valuable as yours or mine. Testify to the homosexuals, offer them the opportunity to partake of the love of Christ, and help them to find the road to salvation. They can change, and they can join the ranks of a church, but only after repentance and the discarding of their lifestyle.
Money is another place where we’ve allowed the threads of society to become interwoven with our churches.
“We can’t make so-and-so mad, he’s the money man in the church. We’ve got to keep him happy, or we’ll lose money.” That sentiment has been found in several churches, and it’s a sentiment we should change.
God commands us to tithe, and to share with our Christian brothers in need. He commands us to prefer one another, and to be as one body in Christ. The love of money, though, is the root of all evil, and it has divided churches and congregations from coast to coast.
Too many ministers are ‘watering down’ their sermons, because they are afraid they will offend someone if they preach hardcore, straight from the Bible. Brethren, if you can’t preach from the Bible, the Word of God, the commandments of God, without having to sugar coat it so people can swallow it easier, you don’t need to be in the pulpit.
These pastors are also afraid they’ll lose membership, and lose money for the church. Brethren, if you are truly living for Christ, and if your church is a true church, God will provide, regardless of the level of membership. I agree with Bro. Littrell, that if you don’t offend someone, you aren’t doing your job. A good pastor is going to upset some people, because they aren’t going to agree with the word of God. If a sermon has been altered to appeal to the masses, it’s not worth preaching.
So, I pose this question to you: what kind of Christian are you?