Tuesday, December 06, 2005

'Jesus' wave!

Sunday night was our church's annual Christmas celebration. "Why in the world did you celebrate on Dec 4?" Very good question!
You see, we are in South Africa, and against popular belief, not all people in the world dream of a white Christmas! Here in the Southern Hemisphere it is approaching the start of summer (Dec 21). That means we have entered our warm to hot months and therefore our annual long holiday is over December. Lots of people take their leave over December. That is why we celebrate Christmas as a church so early in December!
I will probably receive a lot of flack for this post, but I need to write about it since it bothers me!
The usual flow of events is that we sing Christmas carols, listen to a short sermon and then each gets a party pack that includes sweets (candy), streamers, balloons and an ice-cream. It is basically a night of festivities. This time the church had a choir first and then we sang carols. In past years we used to sing these carols by candlelight, but since they have very recently installed new carpets, it was decided by the church to hand out glow sticks instead.
Now, before I continue... I am in NO way against Christians having fun and enjoying the times they have together!
When the carols started the lights were supposed to be dimmed so that we could all sing with our fake modern candles (glow sticks) waving in the air. The glow sticks are actually very practical, since candle wax drop on the carpets and you never know when a kid is going to set something on fire with their candles!
At one point the lights came on unexpectedly while we were singing and instead of continuing to worship the incarnate Son, there was loud disappointment with a very vocal "Aaagh!" I thought that the idea of carols in a church setting was to exalt the One and only Son who came to earth as a human being for that great and wonderful purpose for which He was sent, death on a cross! Instead, all that the people could concern themselves was that the lights came on. I understand that it looks quite impressive to see all those glow sticks in the dark, and that it creates quite a mood. But to express such vocal disappointment in the middle of a carol while supposedly worshipping the King of kings and the Lord of lords just does not make sense. Did these people come to express their thanks to an Almighty God who sent His only Son, or did they come for one thing only... fun?
If our worship is to be reduced to a factor of fun, then we do not know what worship is at all! Should worship create a sense of extreme joy in us because of the very Person we worship? Yes! Should our worship be reduced to only what we feel? No! In this case we might as well go to watch our favourite sports team. If they win, we will get the feeling!
The fact is that if our worship is reduced to that very low common ground of feeling or fun, then we are no longer worshipping! We have simply become drones in a modern church which is quite devoid of true worship. It is then a church which has been influenced by the world and modern technology to such an extent that we can no longer do without the wonder of technology, and as a result have been assimilated into the world in Borg-like fashion and resistance to the temptations of the world has become futile. Then we have aspired so much to be like the world that we no longer have anything relevant to say to the world. If the church looks like the world, why should the world change?
Instead, we should resist the temptations and the love of the world. Our charge is not to "love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  (16)  For all that is in the world--the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions--is not from the Father but is from the world." (1Jo 2:15-16 ESV)
Later in the service when everybody was in a happy mood because of the carols and the glow sticks, the pastor went on stage and got everybody in the church (about 6000) to do a "'Jesus' wave." The spiritual equivalent of a Mexican wave.
Can you imagine deflating Jesus--Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace--down to a 'Jesus' wave? Here is God, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, being made equivalent to a sports event! No wonder the world finds us out of step with reality. Even they can understand that when Christians proclaim someone with the supposed stature of Jesus, that when we cheapen Him with stunts like these, we are clearly out of step with what we purport to believe!
What is it with the modern church that no longer want to be different to the world? The church is doing its utmost to be and act as the world does!
I will say nothing of the woman preacher. That is a totally different issue!
All I can say is that when we try so hard to be relevant to the world that we end up being like the world, we have lost all relevancy to the world. We're not to be relevant to the world in the way we dress, or the way we play our music or irrelevant things like that. We are to be relevant to the world as to where they are.
Where are they? The Bible makes it clear:
(10)  as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; 
(11)  no one understands; no one seeks for God. 
(12)  All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one." 
(13)  "Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive." "The venom of asps is under their lips." 
(14)  "Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness." 
(15)  "Their feet are swift to shed blood; 
(16)  in their paths are ruin and misery, 
(17)  and the way of peace they have not known.", 
(18)  "There is no fear of God before their eyes.""
(Rom 3:10-18 ESV)
They are sinners. Sinners that need to hear the gospel. We must stop treating them with modern psychobabble and preach the unflinching gospel without apologies to them. Watered down messages just will not do. Such messages do not bring salvation but only damnation, since these people will think they are saved when they are not.
Come church! The only way you can be relevant to the world is by telling them the truth!
Just thinking...

1 comment:

Jonathan Moorhead said...

Thanks for the gimpse into South African Christmas. Funny and sad.

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