One of the last books of the Bible is Haggai. He was a prophet of God, send to the Israelites after they returned from exile. He explained to the Jews that they had made a mistake when they stopped working on the temple (which had been utterly destroyed) and were instead working on rebuilding their own homes. This small book addresses why the people were not being blessed and how they needed to get their priorities re-directed!
Haggai’s point was simple: Build the temple first, then trust God to bless you with the rest—i.e.their homes, their farms, their security, etc. When I was quite young I recall being taught that the Pilgrims came to the new land and first established a place of worship and then spent time on their homes. Our founders had it right.
But something has gone terribly wrong, in my opinion, in Europe, North America and other lands that were faithful, Christian nations. Something has slipped into our way of thinking that has shifted our priorities and causes us to look a lot more like the folks that Haggai was talking to than the ones that celebrated in Solomon’s time.
I understand that many pastors today would talk about the need to make churches more attractive to non-believers or new converts. So we allow casual dress from-flip flops and shorts to camouflage and t-shirts. The bigger churches even create Starbucks cafes within the entrance to the sanctuaries! It’s a “come as you are” mentality with “Christianity lite” being preached from the pulpit.
Why? The church needs people and we’ve got to change our approach to get them in!
To which I humbly reply: Baloney. The bride of Jesus is not desperate for people—-people are in desperate need of becoming a part of that body. All people are in a great need of God—but God does not “need” us……..He loves us. God will be no less God if churches cease to have anyone inside or if the entire Christian community ceased to exist! And it might very well do this if we continue to water down the gospel and continue to anthropomorphize God.
As a nation we’ve lost our compass—-somewhere, somehow……and it will not be found in suggesting that God wants us to come and worship Him anyway He can get us. And to be clear, I dress casually for worship and I would never refuse attendance to anyone that desired to worship Him or hear the gospel regardless of their dress, hygiene, political leanings, etc. But God deserves our best in worship, our sincerest forms or praise and the honest preaching of the Word irrespective of how those observing respond. The audience is God—-not the congregation
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