There are times when I really despair for the Church. When I hear a preacher preach one message from a text that very obviously says nothing of the sort, when I hear how not drinking a beer or dressing in a suit is the way to salvation, or any number of other things that really make me wonder if we're paying attention.
Then there are other times that I see the Remnant.
Today, interestingly enough, fell into BOTH categories. I went to the early service today because I was up and ready. It had been awhile since I had been there, what with this being my busy time at work and all. One of the first things I notice is that the bulletin has no information in it other than the alter workers meeting time and three ads for things the place is shilling. Money changers in the Temple is a real sore spot for me, so this wasn't a good start.
Then I notice that they had removed the Bible verse that had adorned one wall and replaced it with some bland, but visually attractive "mission statement" of sorts. Why wasn't the Word of God good enough? Two strikes and the Praise and Worship hadn't even started yet.
There was a little worship, but even less praise. There were at least three songs about how "we" long to praise God. Yep, we really want to praise you. Can't wait to praise you. Oh yeah, listen to us wanting to praise you. I was ready to suffer through the service and get out.
And then the couple came in. No more than 18 but the guy was at least 16. She rubbed on him so much that I almost leaned forward to tell her to get a cat...or a room. She really did come just short of giving him a hand job then and there. Why would you even bother coming to church for that? The way they leaned into each other and such was too intimate for people who hadn't already been MUCH more intimate; you married folks know what I mean.
Then, old Pastor Troy preached on the Second Coming. He has a really annoying style but he does have a LOT of insight so I can usually deal with his pleading for our attention. This week he was really upset that people weren't standing on their chairs cheering about the eminent return of Christ. Then he covered the Blasphemy Project or whatever its actually called. To get a free copy of an atheist movie all you have to do is look into a camera and blaspheme the Holy Spirit. Apparently, 21,000 people have already done this. The church responded like you'd expect them too...stunned silence at best.
This really fired him off. Don't we care that these kids have doomed themselves to Hell for eternity? Yes, but there's not much we can do for them NOW. That could be your kid, or my kid, there doing that. Probably not if we're actually LIVING what we say we believe. You think you can drink whatever you want, look at what you want and it has no consequences...we need to get right with God...
And here was where I really wanted to have my say. :) Here this man is railing against having a beer when I've got two of his teens nearly making out in front of me instead of listening to the sermon. We get so caught up in this periphial crap that we turn a blind eye to SIN, real and actual. The reason why kids raised in church going homes were denying the existence (or worse) of the Holy Spirit had little to do with anyone having a beer or even watching porn. It did, and does, and always has, have to do with the fact that we say we believe in "Love thy neighbor" and then spit hateful gossip about him because he watched Desperate Housewives.
We lie, we cheat, we steal, we have affairs...all REAL sins, but bemoan the condition of somebody's soul because they wore jewelry to church, or wore pants or didn't wear a suit or has long hair or any number of pet doctrines that have only the scarcest Biblical foundation.
Pastor Troy then turned his back on us and threw himself down at the altar. I can't fault a guy for being so passionate about the state of souls ( and make no mistake, he is PASSIONATE about seeing people saved) that he feels the need to prostrate himself before God right then and there. I'll pray for that!! Were that more Elders and Pastors would do such things.
Time came for the second service and most of us were still there praying in some manner or form. There were people waiting out in the foyer, who were now let in. Church prayer is a great thing. Prayer is a great thing. Where two or three are gathered and all that.
Then I saw HER. She was a teenager, wearing a dress and some little jacket or something. What got my attention was not what she was wearing but what she did. She came in and looked around at the groups at the altar and those at their seats. She saw that we were praying...and she RAN to it. She dropped her Bible off in a chair and was praying by the time she hit the altar. She didn't ask why. She didn't stand and wait for directions. She just knew that prayer was needed and dove right in. I started crying...I'm crying as I type. THAT is what will keep our kids and other's from going to hell. That passion, that love, that realness.
And that's why I go to Kingsway Fellowship. There are people there who know Him in whom they have believed. It is also why I still believe revival is possible in the US. It is what I hope to be.