A couple of weeks ago, I flipped through the television channels and ended up watching one of those “listener supported channels”, which I thought would be inspiring but little did I know what was coming.
The preacher of the day was on fire. Something had ticked him off, and no, it wasn’t sinners who weren’t turning to Christ, no, no, no, nor was it his members who were not giving money. No it wasn’t about money either, it was beyond. He was on serious fire and full of drama hopping and bouncing from one side of the dais to the other, spreading his arms like an eagle – literally like a man on fire and each time asking his listeners whether they heard (sic) him. I had never heard him before and I wanted to know what had ticked him. He looked dead serious. He kind of reminded me of another preacher who declared that God would call him home unless he raised some $8 million. Well he neither raised the $8 million nor did God call him home, until 31 years later!
Anyway, this preacher was talking about the Philistines taking over, and I forget exactly what they were taking over because he would never finish his sentences. In his parallel application though, the Philistines were taking over the Washington, the US Whitehouse, and needed to be stopped. He did not conceal his reference to the US President Obama as a Philistine nor was he shy to mock President Obama’s Whitehouse appointees, in a way as to shame the presidency. What I viewed on this broadcast was not just melodramatic but an egotistical expression, far from the great commission but unfortunately protected by the First Amendment.
The man went on to decree that if anyone voted for the president, then they should repent because they too are murderers (because “Obama”, as he referred to him, supports abortion). There was no doubt this man had such an intense animosity towards the president although he denied being a Democrat or Republican (hinting he was an independent), and not having any political ambition.
This was too much for me to handle so I switched the channel to something less disparaging. I was a little late for the drama in the next channel and the preacher was making his closing remarks. He looked straight at the camera and with a calm voice told his listeners how his ministry had suffered a blow because of the economic downturn and would the viewer’s consider sending a gift of $25, $50 or $100? For each gift of $25 or more they would each receive a book –I fail to remember the title.
I thought this was getting interesting, so I tried one more channel, for the fun of it. This time round, the preacher was more candid. He spoke nonchalantly, almost over-confident, with a permanent camera smile. “Take your check books, and write a check for $52 for the next 52 weeks then sit back and see what God is going to do in your life”, he declared on an up-close camera shot. He went on to give testimonies of people who had followed his direction and received unexpected checks in the mail, bonus checks and all those cool things we wish it was us.
Generally the average human has an insatiable desire to search for God. Such people will go to whatever extent seeking God. Unfortunately many fall in the hands of foxes in sheep clothing as Jesus referred to false prophets in Matthew 7:15, when he said, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them”. Thing is we have to be patient to see if the prophets are real or not. As the bible says, a good tree cannot bear bad fruit, but you have to give it time to bear the fruit. I feel afraid that if the bible is true and good fruits are not being produced by the churches then there’s a chance that many will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
Isaiah 2:3 says “Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem”. People gather in mountain of the Lord, the highest or elevated spot, where the house of God is situated –highly elevated, and respected among men. In return, as people gather, He will teach “us” his ways, so that we may walk in his ways.
I am worried that the church has swayed so far and that God is not in the church any more, and what is left is bare brick and mortar. So swayed is the church that According to a study by David T Olson, The American Church in Crisis, “about 3,200 churches closed each year in the 1990’s – 1.1 percent of U.S. Christian congregations and 3,700 a year in the 2000’s.” Why would this not happen if churches preach hatred and discord, mayhem and cacophony, riches and wealth? Why would this not happen if churches don’t obey the great commission and instead fight for spiritual and physical ‘supremacy’, why would this not happen, if churches don’t win souls for Christ and rather get involved in philosophies that have nothing to do with the great commission?
Too many doctrines have shot up in recent times than in any other time in history. Paul in his letter to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:3 says, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires.” The manifestation of these many doctrines is a confirmation that we are in the last days. Like Paul says, the most common thing with the new doctrines is they target one person and it’s not Christ, it’s Self. More prophets and bishops have emerged through self-declaration or appointment than in any other time in history. We have more prophetic drama in the 21st century church than in other century in history. All manner of doctrines are being practiced in the 21 century church; some preachers are known to ask for gifts (also known as money) before praying for the sick, while others openly manipulate their congregations to support their extravagant lifestyles. A friend told me not too long ago how he overheard one preacher telling another, “let me call for the offerings, I’ll show you how they (the congregants) are squeezed.”
Is the church headed for self-destruction?
In all three years, Jesus focused on the ministry, he lived the ministry. He was the ministry, navigating through land and sea teaching and making disciples. And finally, before ascending to the heavens he left an assignment, commonly known as the great commission, as recorded in Matthew 28 saying, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age”.
I wonder; if the goal of the church is to accumulate wealth to support luxurious lifestyles, if the goal of the church is to set up a money minting machine to support individual lifestyle, if the goal of the church is to support profligate living, then pray, who will accomplish the great commission? Who will be the voice to tell people to get ready? Who will teach them, who will baptize them? How will they know?
I wonder; if churches today don’t have enough time to teach their congregation about the love of God, the forgiving grace of God, the baptism in the Holy Spirit, if they have not enough time to disciple, how shall the reception be when we all gather in heaven – if we all do, that is. In Matthew 21:13, Jesus confronted some traders in a church who had changed the motive of the church to money generators “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a ‘den of robbers.’” He chased them from the church with a whip. This is the only time in the bible I believe he chased people with a whip, most of the times he congregated with the people in the synagogues, but not when the people changed the purpose of the church. Could Jesus have changed his opinion about this, so that he would be more merciful? After all, the money raised in church goes to support the ministries, and ministers.
Seeing then that we are surrounded by such a great crowd of witness what manner of men ought we to be?