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Monday, 28 April 2014 00:00

Feelin Good at Church

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Feel Good  Christianity
"I feel good, nana-nana-nana-na."  Ha! Remember that song?  Feeling good is so important in today's culture that we will do just about anything to stay in the groove.  The world we live in dictates our growing need for comfort and encouragement.   Naturally, this philosophy follows us right into the church.  ­­­­­­­­­I know people who are undoubtedly going to be upset with me for writing this today, but it has been eating away at me for a long time.


First, let's take a little walk down memory lane, back just a few years in church history, and then look at how we have progressed.  Growing up in the 50's and 60's many of us attended church as a family.  The church bells rang out over the town as families went inside their respective denominational buildings, usually bearing a steeple and stained glass windows.  We sat on pews, listened to an organ and piano playing hymns as we praised, then listened to a sermon which expounded on the necessity and the urgency of choosing heaven or hell.  There was quite a bit of praying, on Sunday mornings and on Wednesday evenings, and other prayer groups on other weekdays.  Fellowships halls were places filled with homemade potluck foods, baked by the ladies, lots of coffee, tea and laughter.  Picnics in the park or on the church grounds were looked forward to by all.  If there was sickness or a death in a family, not only did the pastor and his wife visit and pray, but church members took food, sent cards in the mail and came by the family's home to help with errands, chores around the house or babysitting.  Right now, it sounds like a Norman Rockwell painting come to life, but it was what it was.  Was it perfect? Of course not.  However, it was foundational for many of us.
As the culture shifted through the years, we saw women breaking out of their bondages of different sorts, children breaking free of parental control, men abdicating spiritual authority as well as parental responsibilities, and people in general demanding independence from constricting moral codes (like marriage).  Everyone was moving to a freer lifestyle, a more fun one, and one in which each could determine their own course and no one had the right to infringe on anyone else's decisions.  The idols of the culture became fun, comfort, feeling good, freedom and tolerance.  Where was the church in all of this?
The church in general about that time was definitely not keeping up with the times.  People who were becoming more enlightened and free felt very confined and even bored to go into a little church with an organ playing that draggy music.  They couldn't blame their kids for not wanting to go.  Husbands couldn't take it any more and started playing golf on Sunday mornings.  Women actually enjoyed a chance to finally get to use their leadership skills so they pretty much took over church meetings.  The preachers were struggling the worst.  Nobody wanted to hear a sermon about sin or hell; that really put a damper on things. 
So, leaving out many steps along the way which you can fill in yourself, we arrive at today's church.  If all the family members go, (which is a big "if"), they arrive in separate cars, and attend different services or classes.  The parking lot is so large you must catch a shuttle, but it's okay because it lets you out at the coffee bar and you can watch videos while you wait for your friends.  The music is lively and fun....and loud...and the songs are about making you feel better.  (But, it's a shame you can't take grandma because it hurts her ears).  The sermon is the best part.  Why?  Because it really makes you feel good.  You don't have to worry about any of that sin stuff because it's all about how God loves you, wants you rich and famous, prosperous and happy.  All your friends and neighbors like to go because it's fun.  There are so many different types of entertainment available you can go to church any day of the week and have fun.  There is a paid staff member to cover any unfortunate events, such as a death in the family.  Wonderful caterers will even deliver a meal if necessary.  And, best of all, no matter what you do or how you live, no one will judge you or offend you in any way.  You can be comfortable.   Yes, church has definitely evolved. 
An interesting phenomena is that nowdays when a church goer is asked a biblical question, the answers are vague or completely out of context from what the writer intended.  As long as the topic concerns feeling good, becoming prosperous financially,  always being healthy, or anything else that feels good, some verses can be quoted.  But....if a question arises that goes deeper into the meat of the gospel, confusion reigns.  The world culture and church culture are pretty much one in the same.  People can justify just about any behavior or attitude by twisting things just right, even Bible verses.  There's no need to offend anyone.  We can all feel good.
Do you suppose Jesus and his disciples offended anyone when they were out spreading the gospel?  Do you think they spent a lot of time figuring out how to make temple time fun?  Did the people who walked miles to hear a sermon get offended and demand that Jesus publicly apologize?  If so, do you think He did?  Do you suppose Jesus was more interested in making people feel good than saving them from an eternity in hell? 
I agree that in some ways church operations have to follow the times to an extent.  The service of the 50's and 60's is not always relevant today, just as in Jesus' day things operated differently.  However, the Word of God is the same.  It is living and active, sharper than a two-edged sword.  The person who studies it from cover to cover, seeking the true and in-depth meanings inside, will never be bored.  And they won't always feel good either.  The Word is convicting, to help us grow.  Where did we lose that hunger to be better, to be cleansed of our old sin and seek godliness?  The Holy Spirit illuminates Bible passages and imparts things that astound and inspire.  The church in general has lost that wonder, that spark of the flame of God, that love, their first love.....Jesus.  You can plaster His name on buses and billboards but if He's not living inside you, you have nothing.  No amount of fun and entertainment will ever fulfill your deepest needs like He can.  The Word empowers one to do self-examination and be inspired to grow and be better, not comfortable.
I am grieved so deeply over today's church.  People talk a big talk, but in reality, their time is focused on their electronic devices, their jobs and their fun and entertainment.  Soon it will all be taken away, and then what?  If His Word is not hidden in your heart, you will be devastated beyond belief because your fun and entertainment will not sustain you.  At this point, some will accuse me of "judging."  I don't think it's judgmental to examine our actions and make direct observations.  I am trying to be loving. I am thankful that there are a few solid churches active today with pastors who preach the full gospel.  But unfortunately, many, as Jesus Himself said, will stand before Him saying "Lord, Lord," and He will say "depart from Me.  I never knew you."  Then, even though you sang all the 7-11 songs about how good God made you feel, singing it over and over and over, with Jesus' name on your T-shirt, you will walk into total darkness for all eternity.

Read 2649 times Last modified on Thursday, 20 November 2014 06:40

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