Faith musings from the seat of a forklift.
It’s September. Here in Washington, that means it is time for the Puyallup Fair. Truthfully, I hate it.
I hate the Puyallup Fair.
Allow me to explain.
I used to enjoy the Puyallup Fair as a child. I loved the exhibits and the rides. It was always a joy to go to the fair and spend the day looking at all the exhibits and going on the rides. However, as time progressed, changes came.
I often say that I’m not opposed to change when it serves a purpose. However, some purposes are better than others. In the case of the Puyallup, I’d argue that change is a very bad thing.
The Hobby Hall is/was my favorite place to visit. It showcased all sorts of things. From grand model railway sets on a scale second to none, to larger than life models of almost everything under the sun, the Hobby Hall was exquisite. Today, it is a shell of it’s former glory. It now consists of four rooms, each room scarcely the size of my house, and the four rooms scarcely making up a third of what the Hobby Hall was. No more model railroads. Very little room for many of the displays that are there now.
What happened? Greed.
Most of the former Hobby Hall was cannibilized into what is now the Expo Hall. Expo? More like walk in informercial. Everywhere you go there, somebody is trying to sell something. Terms used include “miracle”, “like magic”, “new and improved”, or “best thing since sliced butter” (yes, that really does exist).
The Hobby Hall isn’t the only exhibit to suffer from change. The outdoor living, the 4H exhibit, pretty much everything. All of it reduced to a quarter or less of what it formerly was, if not eliminated all together.
Now there are beer gardens, hard alcohol (Jim Beam, Jack Daniels, and others) in the Expo Hall. The State Patrol exhibit reduced to a room about the size of a garage. Some exhibits even requiring you pay to view them, neverminding the cost of a ticket to get into the fairgrounds.
Where am I going with this?
What about the modern Christian church?
Let’s just be honest. Pretty much everything I see at the Puyallup fair today can be found on just about any informercial on television. Sadly, the same is true of some churches, I can find the same stuff preached by a televangelist. Don’t think that is a complement.
Many churches today have come to sacrifice the truth of the gospel for the sake of growth and comfort. They don’t preach about the forgiveness of sins or the meaning of the Lord’s Supper (or if they do, they minimize it to mere symbolism).
I have spoken of Joel Osteen before. He is regarded as one of the most popular pastors on television, yet he does not have a degree in theology, or anything else, and he preaches a message of comfort and wealth, contrary to what the Bible actually teaches. Sadly, he is NOT the exception. I see more and more churches, including some within the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, doing the same thing. It is a disgrace.
When we pray for wealth, we are not praying for God’s will, we are praying for our will. We are praying against God’s will. I am not saying that there is necessarily anything wrong with wealth, as God did bless Solomon with an abundance of wealth that most living today can not readily imagine. Solomon’s annual income was 666 talents of gold, or about $43,956,000, a year. Yet, wealth does not necessarily mean wisdom, nor humility. In fact, wealth has a way of corrupting even the most humble of men.
In the fourth chapter of the Epistle of James, we read a stern warning against worldliness. James, no uncertain terms, condemns covetness behavior and prayers. Yes, this was a problem in earliest days of the church, just as it is now.
The church is slowing sliding in apostasy, making itself a friend of the world, contrary to what is written in James 4:4, where it is written, “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?”. When the church seeks to emulate and befriend the world, it makes itself the enemy of God.
How does this happen? In many ways, sadly enough. First is the taking scripture out of it’s proper context, thus forcing a meaning outside of what the text really meant. This is common enough with all the pre-millenial rapture hype, notwithstanding that Noah and his family were the ones “left behind” after the flood.
Denying the witness of scripture is another way this happens. This is especially true when otherwise well meaning Christians try to reinterpret Genesis 1 and 2 to include long ages, because science has dated the Earth to 4.7 billion years of age. Science were making those claims before we even had radiometric dating, its all an assumption meant to exclude God and explain everything by naturalistic means, which fails more often than not. There is ample evidence that solar flares affect radiometric decay, thus making any radiometric test date on an object of an otherwise unknown age suspect.
Music is another area in which we let this happen. When the worship music plays more like unto a rock concert or night club, there is a problem. The message is lost in the hype and emotionalism. Not only is the message lost, so is reverence unto God and humble admission of our sinful nature.
The modern Christian church has reached a point where we don’t necessary even take Christ Jesus at his word. We marginalize him, we minimize his teachings, and we even take his literal words and reduce them to symbolism.
The church is called to preach salvation and the forgiveness of sins. It is called to be in the world, not of it. The church is not there to be a social club or business meeting. It is there for weak, broken, sin-sick people.
Christ Jesus died upon the cross to forgive our sins, and rose from the grave so that we may have everlasting life. However, unless the church preaches that message, and takes the words of Jesus for what they say, not reducing them to mere symbolism, the church is not preaching the Gospel.
I have about reached my break point as far as the Puyallup Fair goes. All it really caters to is sensuality and depravity. I’ve almost reached my break point with some churches. Any church or preacher that talks about how god wants to give me material blessings is preaching a demonic message. That church or preacher I will flee from.
Just as the Puyallup Fair should not be a walk in informercial, nor should the church be a rock concert or night club with a motivational speach.
As individuals, we all need to repent of sins, including the sin of not taking God at his word. As a church, we need to repent of trying to befriend the world. Either we are of God or we are of the world. It can’t be both. Many churches really need to open up the Bible and read it as it was written, not looking for secret meanings and symbolism that isn’t there. We need to stop twisting God’s word to fit our agenda. We need to repent.