Still playing church? Part 2
(And how to stop)
November 8, 2021 11:59 AM
Every Knee Shall Bow
If God speaks; and He does. He speaks with purpose. That’s why His message in the Bible is not always the same for His people. It’s pertinent. He will uplift when needed, rebuke when needed, warn or teach as needed also. If that is modeled in the scriptures so clearly, why are most churches monothematic in nature? Some are all love, others all grace, some all fear, and almost all a show for their attendees.
God speaks if we are willing to hear. If we search for His direction. Otherwise, if we only use His name to hear ourselves, to be heard and have prominence, He’ll let us play god… and play church. People end up serving, honoring, pleasing, and uplifting themselves in the name of a God they don’t really care much about.
I’m deeply disturbed when I hear people who play church acknowledge the abundance of worldly things and pure human guidance in their congregations as well as the lack of ‘space’ for God and His word to be the center, but still decide to stay and participate in the programs they put together. These people will go somewhere else in case of real need. In case they need serious prayer or real sound counsel. However they dress up and play club-house-church the rest of the time thinking they don’t hurt anyone. Besides, they enjoy it.
Let us know though, no one rejects and dismisses God’s direction without consequences. That’s just not going to happen. And yes, they do hurt God, themselves, and serve sinful purposes that corrupt their souls. So, if you are still playing church and by this I mean attending church services and programs that are not led by the spirit of God, if you support them with your money, time, resources, knowing it’s all orchestrated by men who are not seeking the Lord (who by the way does not need anyone to speak for Him) you are in communion with idolatry.
Why do people play church and sometimes feel confused and hesitant to enter into this evaluation? Because playing church is a deception from the pit of hell. It’s easy (even if you employ your physical energy working until exhaustion there). It does not require spiritual surrender (the dying of self). Also because to analyze a stance you need to have information and many just don’t want to read their Bibles. Much less pray. So playing church is easy for the spiritually lazy.
However I’m prompted to make this brief list to help you in further analyzing this on your own.
Here are a few pointers for all to look at when considering our congregation’s standing according to scripture:
Red flag #1- If there are auditions in your church to participate in groups, if people vote and meet to choose leaders based on their talents/desires/availability and they are not appointed directly by the Lord (because that direction is not even sought for before putting people in charge of ministries) and their work and calling is not supported by scriptures (solely)
– John 13:18 “I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture: ‘He who shared my bread has turned against me.
– Mt 22:14: For many are called, but few are chosen
– Remember how God directly CHOSE Abraham, David, Moses, Samuel, Joshua, Paul, and many more. We also read in Luke 10:1 “After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come.”
Red flag #2- If there is emphasis on identifying members and workers with name tags, labels on parking spaces, labels on ‘special seating’ at church, use of titles of respect etc. in a way that is not modeled in the Bible (that was the pharisees’ way not Jesus’ way)
Scripture references: (Notoriety is a staple of the world, not Christianity)
– Matthew 8: 20– “And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.”
– Mark 8: 30- “And he [Jesus] charged them that they should tell no man of him.”
Red flag #3- If altar and worship/preaching time is used to ‘celebrate’ people. For example Pastor’s Day, Mother’s Day. Father’s Day, graduations, Church Anniversary etc. and worldly holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas etc.) when the purpose of church meeting is solely for the worship and honoring of the Lord and every second spent on people is a second robbed from the one deserving recognition
– Isaiah 42:8– ““I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to idols.”
– Isaiah 1:13-15- “Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations— I cannot bear your worthless assemblies. Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals I hate with all my being. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you, even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening.”
Red flag #4- If having rehearsals, informal-planning meetings, caring for the building, fundraising etc. is part of the weekly program in a disproportioned fashion (sometimes with way many more hours invested in them than actual worshiping, Bible teaching, praying, preaching etc.)
Scripture references: (Don’t you have houses, jobs, neighborhoods where you can mingle, chat, hang out etc.?)
– Please read 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 fully. This is just verse 17 “In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good.” Paul is rebuking people for meeting in the name of the Lord for the wrong reasons and with wrong attitudes (as he does in many others of his letters to congregations).
– As I wrote this I remembered being in church meetings/rehearsals every day of the week in my youth. Adults were ‘happy’ because we were at church and not on the streets. However being physically in a church has no spiritual impact on a person whose heart is away from the Lord. That was ‘church’ to many of us and we couldn’t (nor many of the adults) bare more than a 45–60-minute preaching on a Sunday. Go figure!
Red flag #5- If your congregation wrongly confuses giving to the poor and serving the community with belonging to the Lord, worshipping Him, and being His blood-bought church
Scripture references: (Remember that Boys & Girls Clubs, Red Cross, Salvation Army etc. also give to the poor and serve the community. How are we different than them?)
– Please read Galatians 5:13-23. This is only verse 24 “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”
– Giving and serving does not make you Jesus’. However, belonging to Jesus in the first place will undoubtedly (and naturally) produce the fruit of giving and serving others as led by His spirit.
How do I stop playing church?
Go to your secret place now. Surrender your heart to God in humble repentance for all your transgressions and sins. Allow the Holy Spirit to show you (He’ll bring issues and actions to your mind) things for you to repent. Lay down all your defenses. God is FOR YOU. He won’t hurt you; He’ll heal and restore your brokenness. Ask Him to please cleanse you of all your sins with the blood of His son Jesus Christ and in His name. Ask Him to please speak to you and teach you how to hear Him above your own voice (desires, preconceived ideas, former worldly teachings), and other people’s voices. Begin to read your Bible today. Do it daily and prayerfully. Ask Him to lead your regarding every aspect of your life. Make a decision: NO MORE MAN-MADE MOVES. Stop pleasing people and please Him. Obey and pray for His help to do it. This is the spiritual battle. This is dying to your flesh (desires, comforts). It’s contrary to our nature and is NOT easy. But you just go head on… He’s already won this battle and believe me… His burden is easy and light.
May God bless us and help us all endure to the end. Amen.