Thursday, January 18, 2007

Profile of a church

Got a story for ya. It's all true, so just ponder the truth for a moment.

Once upon a time, there was a man. He wasn't the best of men and, being a little greedy, he stole thousands of dollars worth of silver coins from his mom. Mom was understandably furious, but did not know who took her silver coins. She cursed the thief vehemently; so intense was her objurgation that the son began to fear the consequences and regret the taking of the silver. He returns it to his mother, confessing that he took it. Rather than anger with her son, the mother sees this change of heart as a sign that her son may, finally, be finding religion.

As a sign that she has forgiven her son, that she is grateful to Jehovah for the return of the silver coins, and as a means of building her son's burgeoning faith, the woman dedicates all that was stolen to the Lord and entrusts her son with the use of the wealth in God's service. Her only explicit instructions is to begin by using twenty percent of the silver to be made into two statues - one sculpted and one cast - that will be placed in the new church. (After all, what is a church without ornamentation?) With the two statues in hand, the son established this new church, adding other figurines to fill out the building. To lead them, he selects one of the early congregants who seemed best suited as the priest of their new church - conveniently, this happened to be his son. So his son will look the part, the man also has made an extravagant priestly robe to be worn during times of worship.

However, after a time, a drifter wanders through town. He's looking for work, but doesn't really seem to care if he lands a job and settles down or just gets a hand out and moves along. Meeting the drifter, the first man soon recognizes that this man is a distant relative of a family of famous, eloquent, renowned preachers. Seeing a chance to add credibility to his new church, through association with this famous family of godly men, the first man offers the drifter the job of priest (sorry, son, but I found someone better). He offers the drifter a sizeable salary, with benefits package and a per diem.

All the pieces are in place, the first man thinks. I have the ornate church, the people are gathered to worship, and I have to lead and teach them one of a family blessed by God. Surely Jehovah will prosper me, now.
So, does any of this sound familiar to you? Maybe you've seen pieces of this here or there - a church founded by reformed crooks who still don't seem to get it, a focus more on the visual presentation that on the substance, a diversion of worship from the Spiritual to the physical (idolatry) , the honoring of credentials or heritage over God-given ability or calling. This one example seemed to fit it all so well; but where was this church? Houston? New York? London? Rome? Well, to find out you must read the comments, where the truth will be disclosed. And feel free to add your own comment on this true story and how it affects each of us.

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2 comments:

euphrony said...

This is the true story of a man named Micah, which you can read about here in Judges 17. You can read about Micah's dismay when, in the following chapters, God allows his wealth of idols to be stolen by a passing army.

I studied this in a class a few weeks ago, and I found it to be so similar to many of the things that go on in churches around the world, which we complain about frequently. It just seems to illustrate what the preacher tells us in Ecclesiastes 1:9, that there is "nothing new under the sun". What do you think?

Anne said...

It causes my heart great sadness.

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