Those not knowing Jesus are facing eternal damnation, and what the church wants to do is bicker about a water bottle.
At least this is the case in one congregation of which I lately became aware. Recently word started to spread there that the board wanted to oust the worship leader from his role and, therefore, from the church. Why? Well, one of the primary things is that when he goes upon the platform to lead the worship, he carries with him–get this–a bottle of drinking water.
O the heresy!
Now the skeptics among us will say, “Oh, Matthew, there must be more to the story.” Of course, you’re right. There is more. As I understand it sometimes this man might not wear a tie with his sport coat. And, sometimes he might have the congregation repeat a line or two of whatever song they’re supposed to be singing. And, sometimes one of the ancient hymns, those great songs of old, might be sung to instrumentation that is a little more contemporary in style. Amazing, isn’t it? From what I’m told he can’t win for losing. When the ancient hymns are played, beloved as they are by a new and upcoming generation, but with stylization that is more reflective of 2009 rather than 1951, he’s cast as an insensitive and unkind brute by the older people. When the ancient hymns are played to the meter and style of early 1950s, the younger generations look at him like he’s a dinosour. Truly, the question is open: who in their right mind would even want a job where such stupid things are nit-picked to death on a weekly basis, and by people who are proudly spiritual giants; biblically literate warriors for the faith?
As the wise people of these great north woods in which I live would say: Uffda!
Let me just go on record and say that this man’s story is the story of too many American congregations scattered throughout the United States. It really, honestly, is a story of the Church being way too comfortable with itself, too isolated and clean and protected. It is a picture of the Body of Christ that is so insulated from spiritual realities that we have to create our own controversial things just so we can scratch that inner-itch that loves a good fight. We can’t find the right cause without so we create the cause within. Meanwhile, multitudes are slouching their way straight into Hell because the Church is so utterly self-absorbed.
Like the one where the board worries about whether the worship leader carries a water bottle onto the platform on Sunday morning. No doubt Paul the Apostle was correct when he penned during the ancient days these prophetic words, found in 2 Timothy 3:1-5:
But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self . . . proud, arrogant, abusive . . . ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.
And as an exclamation point to this Paul writes, simply: Avoid such people.
If only we really could.