I recently visited a church near where I live and sat down with my son in my normal Sunday suit. It actually fit this time of year. It was just around Christmas time and the church was practicing for worship service before Sunday, which I have understood is the worship leaders last resort because he works with people that do not even know how to spell s-a-c-r-i-f-i-c-e in making out during the week and preparing.
It is noisy and takes away from settling in, praying and reading your Bible so your mind is on God. It is like going to a wedding and the music is always too loud and you have to literally scream in your neighbors ear to say, “Can you pass me a tithing envelope, please?” I wonder if it could be said, “My house is a house of prayer but you have made it a den of noise.”
But I am just a visitor so I grin and bear it.
The first thing I beheld (which the pastors wife later explained to me was for a Christmas play later that day) was that the altar area. It was surrounded by cardboard candy canes, cut out gingerbread men and enough cotton balls to gag a wise man’s camel. In the middle of it was a communion table.
There they practiced, guffawed and one girl even gave the worship leader and nice shoulder massage. With recent events, I began to think I am in hell (for you neo-evangelicals that is eternal hell not annihilation). I had been pondering recently the lack of reverence for God and the picture preachers paint of Christ that he is giddy and fun loving. I know some people will think I am Pharisee, Sadducee etc. go right ahead call me whatever, but I guess that is better than Heresy.
I manufactured an artificial smile and began to quote the love chapters in my mind and my teenage son was looking at me for some response but he saw it in my eyes and that was enough. I prayed I could keep my mouth shut in such a situation which would be a modern day miracle, for sure.
Then, during service the Pastor walked in (a large man) wearing pajamas and a robe with the Yankee insignia. I was hoping it was an object lesson and I was praying, “Oh, Lord let this be an object lesson.” But it was not, it was an advertisement for the Christmas play that night and they invited everyone to come with their pajamas on at 5pm. Then there were comments from the seats about baseball teams and other foolishness.
He showed a Charlie Brown Christmas cartoon for a introduction. Rats, he even preached, took the offering and served the Lord’s Supper in his pajamas and at last, the Pentecostal Pajama party was over.
After that service I could identify with Chuck Brown. I wonder if he were a professing Christian looking for a church that actually preaches the Bible without all the shiny bows and pretty wrapping of religious commercialism. Where is that scripture toting Linus when you need him anyway.
So, here we have it. Christ tells us, “Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning.” (Luke 12:35ESV). Pajama clad sleepy Christians need not apply. The American Church has an empty, lifeless false advertisment by offering people a pillow padded life full of positive self esteem as they ignore, delay or set aside repentance from actions that lead to a dangerous sleepy death. God says, “Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.” (Romans 13:11). Oh God ,wake your people who are asleep and save those who are wandering lost in sin! The visible American church needs to wake up and not hypnotized by the world and its bait of entertainment.
“Wherefore he saith, ‘Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.’ ” (Eph 5:14). How are we going to get American Christianity out of its ecclesiastical sleeping bags into a well armored unit ready to fight off the temptations of this evil age? Sadly, it is not walking in the Spirit, it is sleep walking. This is the where great work of the Sovereign Lord of the church will be seen!
Nothing wakes up the church like the Word of the Lord being preached in power! He says, “Wake up!” It takes the power to raise the dead and he says, “Rise From the dead!” It takes drawing back the curtains of dullness, and let the blistering white hot light of Christ shine on them. he says, “And Christ will give thee light!” Preacher preach, Preach with all your might the word of Christ! Preach loud, preach hard but in the name of jesus Christ rise up and walki into that pulpit without the lameness of man’s methods and preach the Scripture and let all of its force weigh down on the consciences of the hearers. The power of his presence is still available to the obedient man who is not a captive slave to the opinion of men!