The Death of the "Goofy" Churchby James Robert Kessler
Several years ago I bought a CD of a Christian singer named Charlie Peacock. One of the songs on the CD was called Cheer Up Church. The lyrics of the song summed up what I was feeling at that time and I think they are appropriate for this article. The first line in the chorus went like this:
"Cheer up church, you're worse off then you think." That one line gets to the heart of the church today. Until recently, I was heavily involved in the Charismatic movement and the miracles of: gold fillings, spiritual fogs, fire tunnels, and slain in the spirit. I have even witnessed people attempting to be healed by having musical instruments played over them. I was part of the "what made me feel good and appealed to my senses" movement. The sensual gospel of the highest highs, on Jesus of course, and the "name it and claim it" crowd of wealth and prosperity.
Before you think that I came out of a totally screwed up family upbringing, I was raised in the Church of Christ denomination and graduated into the Baptist persuasion later on. My dad was an elder in the Church of Christ we attended and he was involved in the music ministry. One day the pastor was out of town and asked my dad to lead the Sunday service in music. My dad got this great idea that he would bring in some taped background music to go with the singing. Though it seemed brilliant at the time, several weeks later I found myself wondering why we hadn't gone to church since that service. Was my dad sick or something? Did they catch him smoking between services like he always used to do? No, it was something worse then that. He had been "excommunicated" because he had used Southern gospel background music, and it was forbidden to do that in the assembly. Thus the seed of rebellion that was planted in my life had only just begun to grow. My dad knew the rules, but that rebel in him sang a different tune. I began to think, maybe my Spiritual "DAD" was a rebel also. Right on, man!
I was about ten years old back then and my future church upbringing only got more bizarre as I got older. Church became a great way to meet the "good" girls. Every young man knew or was told that the Christian girls were the "wildest" and that preacher kids told the dirtiest jokes. In that I could place my faith and I went through all the spiritual motions and requirements during my early formative years.
Finally, in the late nineties I discovered that "God was up to something." Come on, I wanted to find out what that was! Tommy Tenny had his pulpit split in half and the Holy Spirit was plowing people over in their seats. I had "discovered" revival and I was living on Azuza street! The fear of the Lord was being taught but I found out later that "Lord" meant the "anointed pastors" who were making tons of money off the gospel message. "Do not touch God's anointed," was the battle cry if you questioned what God was up to. Christian marketing exploded while the presses couldn't keep enough books on the store shelves thanks to the prayer of a man named "Jabez" in the OT.
God was rewriting what He was trying to pray and say all along. We just didn't get it in the scripture as a corporate church so God imparted supernatural insight to a chosen few who figured out the magic formula. Then the cries for unity started. Is there any wonder why? Just how many different versions of the gospel were put out there for believers to consume? Oh yes, did I forget to mention, WE WERE HUNGRY AND DESPERATE FOR GOD? We just didn't understand that our new diet of religion contained no spiritual nourishment!
I began to realize that being hungry for God doesn't mean you have to eat junk food. Because our view of Eschatology was so screwed up, we missed the very truth of the perfection we experience today. I'll let you in on a little secret I have come to discover. You're righteous simply because CHRIST is RIGHTEOUS, period! There was no magic formula, and no matter how many gold teeth you received or thought you had, it wasn't because you were some master chemist who tithed 10% of your income or recited the "The Prayer of Jabez" to have God as the big daddy in the sky bless you in return for all your good deeds. You're blessed because He planted His Kingdom in your heart. I bet you didn't know your heart was so very big, did you?
So where am I today with the Lord and all that I have experienced? I would answer that this way: I breath because He allows me too. I'm good at times because I choose to be, and I still sin though I try not to. I'm free because He bled and died for me. I'm saved simply because He has chosen me in spite of my own self. And I only love Him because He first loved me! I'm learning to live all over again in the true gospel of love towards each other without all the pageantry of the modern church experience involved with it.
So, you're probably thinking, "Why would He love us that way and what makes us so special to our awesome God?" My profound answer would simply be, "Why not?" For He chooses the "GOOFY" things of this world to confound the wise, because in the end, It is His Will alone, It's His Glory alone and all alone. You'll never have to live in the modern church experience because He found and prepared a home in you and has written His presence upon your very heart!
Note: James Kessler runs an arts ministry at: PreteristArtist.com.