If you’ve been somewhat observant over the last 10-20 years, you will have to agree there have been a number of changes in the church, especially here in America.
I’ve been around a few years, and have heard all kinds of remarks about the problems in today’s church. “Too much liberalism in our pulpits.” “Music’s too loud.” “If I wanted music like this I’d visit the neighborhood bar.” “Too much compromise!” “No Sunday School or Sunday evening services.” This and that, one thing then the next. On and on and on and on…
But I really don’t consider any of those issues, even though they may be true, the biggest problem facing the church.
I’ll say it a different way. In my opinion, there’s something far more damaging to the church than liberalism, more damning to the soul of man than loud music, and destructive to our mission than not having a Sunday evening service. It’s this:
We’ve become too familiar with God.
Shall I explain? One definition of the word “familiar” is “common, everyday occurrence”. In other words, we’ve become so used to being around Him there isn’t any sense of awe. The church has lost the “awe”! How? By inserting our plans, programs, and earthly thinking into what we used to rely on God to do! As a preacher, we’ve learned how to “manipulate” the audience (watching our show) so they’ll respond like we want them to. And then we call it being anointed.
It is impossible to really be “anointed” without the Fear of God in your life. Hebrews 1:8,9
We can have “worship services”, go through the list of the latest “charts”, get the glory-bumps on us, shout a bit, listen to a sermon, shake a hand or two, get in the car and go right back to where we were before “worship”. No sense of awe! No change in attitudes! Just go through the motions, try and get the market share of tithes and offerings, put out the best programs to attract the masses, and hope God sees fit to bless the work of our hands!
A couple verses from Hebrews come to mind as I write: “Our God is a consuming fire…” and “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
“Brother, I think you’re getting a little legalistic.” Maybe so, the Lord will be the Judge, but I don’t think so. I love the Lord, love to worship, preach, shout and “have church” like the rest. I think it’s important to do things the best we can. But “familiarity with God”, where He is an after-thought in all our activities, is dangerous! Here’s an example:
Working in a foundry, pouring hot iron that’s 2700 degrees, you must never lose your sense of awe or respect for it. Though it is your “friend and partner”, creating strong castings, etc, you must respect it. You don’ need to fear it, just respect it. You cannot become too familiar, as if it doesn’t matter how you treat it, because that’s when you get burned! I know!
The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, and it causes you and I to depart from evil. Familiarity with God minimizes the fear and awe of God we desperately need in the church. The fear of God would clean up our thoughts, our actions, our mouths, and our “worship” would be pure. Our sermons wouldn’t be powerless or reliant upon the latest gadgets available but would be filled with the Spirit of God and shake us to our knees!
Mark it down, though. The Fear of God is rising, whether we want it or not. The Holiness of God is becoming more and more evident. It’s time we quit thinking of God as our “bud” or “pal”, but reverence Him as Lord of ALL. He IS a consuming fire, and the heat is rising!