Reproclaiming the Everlasting Gospel
Church is supposed to be the place where Christians gather to learn from God and to draw closer to Him. However, too often church actually buffers the believer’s possible encounter with God.
The crux of really knowing God is listening to Him. Therefore, it’s easy to see how a certain component of a church service is not listening: hymn-singing and group prayers, for example. However, when the sermon is given, the congregation listens. All present assume that the minister is inspired by God.
What’s behind this assumption? First, ministers are ordained; they have graduated from a seminary. Second, it’s their job to ″lead the flock.″ Third, presuming they are conscientious, they seek God’s will for the subject and content of each sermon. Fourth, they feel a calling for what they’re doing.
However, education, plus doing one’s job, plus sincere effort and good intentions, plus a possible calling, don’t necessarily add up to speaking God’s message—especially when sermons occur on a regular schedule and are so often delivered by a paid pastor. Therefore, we can’t assume that by listening to a sermon we are hearing from God.
The whole package of activities that constitute church-going do have one definite effect: They give those involved the feeling, the reassurance even, that they are meeting God’s primary requirement, and therefore they are doing the right thing for their spiritual well-being.
This might seem harmless enough, except that it can replace truly listening to God. When this substitution occurs, church-going becomes a distraction, and a dangerous one because, in failing to place the attenders face-to-face with their Guide and Leader, church merely insulates them from that raw, life-changing encounter which our Creator requires of all of us.
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