Isaiah 1:13-15 ESV Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations— I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly. (14) Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. (15) When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood.
I want us to think carefully about what most churches look like. What I mean specifically is, how does the sanctuary (where the worship services are held) look? How is it arranged? What is the physical layout? Do you have the picture in your mind?
Now, think about a theater. You know – a stage where performers perform. An audience out the in pews….uh….seats. Do you see a troubling parallel?
The most common example of evil in churches that I have repeatedly had to deal with all these years is – performers masqueradings as “worship leaders.” As “worship” team members. And of course all too often as preachers. These kind are some of the nastiest hypocrites who control entire congregations, leading them in a false worship that is disgusting to the Lord.
Why am I writing about this subject here on this blog? Because it is these kinds of evil people who creep in among us disguised as “saints” who oppress Christ’s true people and enslave them. These kind lust for self-glory and when they don’t think they are getting enough worship, the fangs come out.
These kind persecute and hate Christ’s people. They are children of the kingdom of darkness doing all they can to extinguish Christ’s light.
When I came to our church here nearly 3 decades ago, it was entirely dominated by just this brand of wickedness. They had infiltrated the entire church so that no aspect of ministry was left un-corrupted by their evil. The choir and music ministry. The missions ministry. The Christian education ministry. The church leadershp board. And the large majority of the congregation. I do not exaggerate. The previous two pastors had either created this thing or had allowed it to grow without being confronted.
And the most typical motivation of this evil was, self-glory. A lust for self-praise. Musical instruments were played for self-glory. The choir sang for self-glory. Solos, duets, quartets…sought self-glory. Classes were taught, home fellowship groups were organized, children’s classes led….all for the praise of those carrying them out. Prayers were prayed…for self-glory. In fact, if it was any kind of “ministry” carried out as part of this church, its motivation was….you guessed it….self-glory.
When I confronted this evil from the pulpit one Sunday morning, there was a blow-up. The wicked exploded and one key ring-leader stormed out the door. But in some ways most telling was what one other luster for self-praise said to me after the service. “We have a reputation in this community of being a wonderful, loving, family church and now everyone is going to hear about this and our reputation is lost.” Yep. Good.
Now, people who desire to be top-dog in a church, who crave being viewed as the most pious saint of all, are incredibly mean. Just read up on the Pharisees of Jesus’ day and you will have a pretty accurate picture of the kind I am talking about. Cross them, confront them, point out the false doctrine they are pushing, and the battle will rage. And so it did – for some 20 years until the last of them went out from us – after all, they were not of us.
This brings me back to this business of a church sanctuary being set up pretty much just like a theater. Wicked people who crave glory for themselves lust for a stage and an audience. What easier place to find it than the church?
This business requires some very serious thought by all of us. The Spirit of Christ in us enables us to hear Jesus’ voice. He enables us to discern Light from Darkness. And I suggest that if we will just listen to Him, He will also tell us when we are in a theater watching performers perform for applause and not among His real people.
Want to be oppressed by the wicked? I hope not. But unless you are wise in regard to these things, that is surely what is going to happen to you when your “church” is really Hollywood.