The recent financial industry crisis yields a big lesson – everything can look okay when in fact things are very bad off. Who would have thought that in this day and time we would have a banking crisis with all the regulations and information overload and tracking technology? But right under the radar the corruption and fraud and greed were running rampant. Where were the people asking the questions? Where were the prophets? Who was shouting the warnings?
Sounds like a lesson in there for us all. I think most Christians know we ought to be doing church in a different way. But the courage to ring the alarm is lacking. There are too many brochures and conferences detailing extraordinary investment schemes with miraculous returns. It’s hard to turn off the noise. I feel that in “church land” I am living inside a 24/7 infomercial. The simplicity of loving Jesus, living out our lives in the encouragement and support of loving fellowships, and serving the needs of those shattered by sin with the words and deeds of the Gospel gets lost.
I remember a book some time ago that was a best-seller, a book of advice from a father to his son who was leaving for college. Each page was just a short, pity insight into life. One was “don’t go to a church that is raising money for a gym.” I didn’t think much about it at the time. I think I get it now. Church easily becomes about something else. It’s lost confidence in the Gospel, the wonderful power of truth, the towel of service and the life of sacrifice. It can too easily turn into women losing weight, youth building community service resumes for college applications, children meeting the children from the nicer families and giving the “haves” more resources than they can possibly use while the “have nots” go without.
One church recently advertised a visiting speaker and added the exciting news that he was bringing along his worship band. I am not sure what this really added, except that in church land worship has become the band and the “success sermon.” The formula is so old that you would think people would see through it. They don’t. And so it drags on and on. But we will wake up. And when we do, we and the world will all be better off for it.