Today, when we stopped for our lunch in the midst of our travels, I watched Dr. Drew on TV.
The emphasis here is on “watch.” There was no sound. I was in a restaurant. It was apparent that Dr. Drew was in church, speaking very dramatically and with excellent hand gestures and body movements. Otherwise, I know nothing about him. I never heard about him before I saw his name on the screen after his speech.
I like entertaining speakers. I like them even better if they have something worthwhile to say. I listened to Zig Ziglar in person once, about 25 years ago, and I was impressed. I also thought, and think, his motivational ideas and positive attitude towards life are worth following.
In fact, what I remember from his speech is his wonderful, positive attitude and all the glowing things he said about his wife, “the redhead.”
I like Rob Bell, too. Excellent, excellent, speaker, and once more I’m recommending everyone listen to his excellent teaching called Covered in the Dust of Your Rabbi.
Christians should hear inspiring teachings like the ones Rob Bell gives. They should read articles by N.T. Wright. They should even occasionally catch people like Zig Ziglar, and at least once they ought to read How to Win Friends and Influence People.
But I wish there were some way to communicate how ludicrous it is to call a speech a church!!!
The Church is wonderful.
- It is the body of Christ, the Son of God seated at the right hand of God in heaven. Thus, the church is a people moved and animated by Jesus Christ!
- It is the household of God. What better family could a person be in than one in which God himself is the Father? What care, what joy, what power, and even what fun that family must have!
- It is a place where extra money comes in solely to be held for the care of those who are short of money. What wonderful love the members of the church must have for one another!
- It is people whose love comes not from themselves, but from the Holy Spirit. God’s love—that love which is deeper, more practical, and more insightful than any human love—is "shed abroad" in their hearts, available abundantly for all to partake of.
- It is the people among whom everyone is needed, and where no one is independent or completely self-reliant because none of them are able to say they don’t need the others.
- It’s the people where your every pain and joy is shared because it’s a body with the blood and life of Christ flowing between them and giving them a shared life.
- It’s the pillar and support of the truth, where the members can come together and be led by the Anointing into what is true and not a lie, so that we no longer have to wonder about direction for our lives.
The Weekly Speech and Songs
Weekly speeches are also wonderful … though not as wonderful as the church, of course.
- The Weekly Speech is a place to learn potentially life-changing truths.
- The Weekly Speech is a place to be entertained by a skilled speaker and a skilled singer and also get to participate in inspiring group singing and praise.
- If you attend the right weekly speech, it can be a good place to meet people who are in God’s family, though the vast majority don’t actually participate in that family.
- The Weekly Speech is a place to contribute up to ten percent of your income—based on a grossly-misused Old Testament command—to professionals and programs while people all around you—who don’t know you and thus are embarrassed to tell you—lose their jobs, their houses, their cars, and move in with a biological relative because although they’ve been told they’re in God’s family, they don’t actually know anyone in God’s family who would do the same for them.
I better quit. I tried to check the sarcasm, but it just came gushing out.
The Travesty of the Church
"Travesty" means "an exaggerated or grotesque imitation" (TheFreeDictionary.com).
It is amazing to me that we can read the Bible and claim it’s our "sole rule for faith and practice," and then join a Weekly Speech club and say we’re joining the church! Have we really paid no attention to the Scriptures that produced the description of the church I gave above?
"Grotesque imitation" seems like a very fair description of the Weekly Speech when it masquerades as the church.
Let’s say I ran across some poor, lonely person with nowhere to live, and I said, "You don’t have to be without a family anymore; you can join my family!"
"Really?" asks this person, whom I’m about to con in a most terrible manner.
"Yes, really! It’s a great family, too, filled with a supernatural love."
"What do I have to do?" this poor sucker asks.
"You just show up for our weekly meeting," I explain. "There, we’ll sing some songs together, and my dad will give you an inspiring speech to help you know how to live life. Oh, and in between, we’ll collect ten percent of your income. Then you can go away for a week. Do call occasionally if you need some counseling, and if dad’s not busy working, he can give you some."
Isn’t that great? What an awesome way to join a family!
Lighting a Candle
I’ve pointed out the darkness. Let me light a candle.
Weekly speeches are good. Attend them if you want. Maybe once a month or something. More if you find a really good one. They can be a good place to meet other Christians who have been deceived into thinking they’ve joined a church.
But do this, too:
- Quit paying them an Old Testament tithe. They’re not Israelite priests, and you don’t live in Israel. Even if they were and you did, you should be keeping 2/3 of your tithe to spend on good food and strong drink at the yearly festivals (Deut. 14). Good speakers can get by on a lot less than that.
- Join a real church that’s like what I described above. That’s almost impossible to find, but Christians aren’t. Get involved with some (try meetup.com, googling "men’s breakfast," or attending a Weekly Speech and actually talking to people about getting together like family.
- I’ve never been among committed Christians where I couldn’t find several that, when removed from the pressure to "be a witness," didn’t admit to being lonely, confused, or in doubt. Find one or more of those, and meet their need. That’s what family does. You’ll get off to a much better start if you’re concerned about someone else’s need rather than your own.
- You don’t have to create that family with such people. By the blood of Jesus, you already are family. The Scriptures command us to maintain the unity of the Spirit, not create it.