Monday, June 18, 2012

O Church, Whom are You Pleasing?

O, church, whom are you pleasing?  A good question, and a question that every church leader and every church member should ask themselves.  Healthy and honest introspection is good.  It is good to ask yourself hard questions about yourself.  It is good to have a season of self-examination.  This is true also for the church, and it should be done by its leaders and its members.

There is a slogan/saying/catch phrase that I have heard and read over the last few years, and it is in context of "doing church."  It is, "It is not about me."  Now this is used to mean that the church service is not for church members, but for those whom the church is trying to reach...the seekers, the unconverted, the non-christian..  It is used as a reason or excuse for the church doing what it feels is necessary to reach the unchurched.  It is the undergirding of the philosophy that drives how the church conducts itself, and in particular how it conducts its Sunday services.

Even though it is true that church is "not about me," the application of this truth has been misplaced.  It has become "it is all about them," which refers to the unconverted and unchurched.  What has been missed here?  It is simply this:  it is not about me, nor about us, nor even about is about God and His Son, Jesus Christ, and His Holy Spirit.

We have taken the focus in our churches off of God, and placed it onto those who are ungodly.  We have ceased focusing on pleasing God, and are now striving in every way imaginable (and there is great imagination used) to please those who are enemies of God.  When God gives the command in Hebrews to not forsake the assembling of yourselves together, He did not mean for the church to come together so as to focus on those outside of its self, to focus on anyone other than Him.  The minute that the church starts trying to entice the unbeliever, it must start seeking to please the unbeliever in order to draw him or her in; and must conduct its service so as to please them in order to bring them back.

The hard question the church (its leaders and members) must ask its self is this, "In the way we conduct our services have we placed pleasing the ungodly over pleasing God; in our attempts to not offend the ungodly are we offending God; in our attempts to attract the ungodly have we made ourselves unattractive to God?"  Has the church placed its affection and adoration on the ungodly and taken it off of the Lord?  This is a question that I am afraid is not getting asked.  

Here are a smattering of Scriptures that speak to this.  Notice how unimportant man is in these references.

Isaiah 2:22 Stop regarding man, whose breath of life in in his nostrils; for why should he be esteemed. (O church, why regard man if there is no area, no arena, in which he can be esteemed in God's eyes?)
Isaiah 40:17 All the nations are as nothing before Him, they are regarded by Him as less than nothing and meaningless. (O church, even the nations are nothing compared against the great and mighty God who has given us life, breath, and all things!)
Psalm 144:3-4 O Lord, what is man, that you take knowledge of him?  Or the son of man, that You think of him?  Man is like a mere breath; his days are like a fleeting shadow. (O church, have you elevated man above where God has him?  Have you elevated man above God?)
I Corinthians 7:3 You were bought with a price; do not become the slaves of men. (O church, whom do you cater to?)
I Corinthians 8:6a yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things and we exist through Him.
( O church, for whom are you existing?)
II Corinthians 5:9 Therefore, we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. (O church, is your highest ambition to please Him?)
I Thessalonians 2:4 But just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts. (Church leaders and members, if God examines your heart to see whom you are seeking to please, what would He find?)
Galatians 1:10 For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? or am I striving to please men?  If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ. (O church, have you become the bond-servant/slave of the ungodly by trying to please them?  And in trying to do so have you left your first love and fallen to a lesser spiritual state?)
Leviticus 10:1-3 Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on  it and offered strange fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them.  And fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. Then Moses said to Aaron, "It is what the Lord spoke, saying, 'By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy, and before all the people I will be honored.'" (O church, by seeking to please the ungodly have you neglected to treat the Lord as holy before them?  In seeking to be attractive to men have you substituted honoring men over honoring the Lord?) 

In the final analysis, there is only One to please.  As His body the church is to be a God-pleaser not a man-pleaser (Ephesians 6:6)  Instead of trying to be pleasing to the ungodly the church should be teaching them what is required to please the Lord (Ephesians 5:10).  O church, remember that it is the Lord Christ whom you serve, not man (Colossians 3:24)  O church, examine yourself honestly and rigorously, and make sure you are living to please Him, for it is Him for whom you exist.

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