Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. — 1 John 2:15-17
A PARABLE FOR THIS DYING GENERATION
There was once a King who went far away and entrusted his bride to his servants. The wedding will happen right after he comes back. The servants were told to take care of the bride and let her stay pure. He left a book that will guide them on what to do and how to take care of the bride. To remind the people of their King, the bride constantly goes to the village. She is modest, beautiful and covered with veil, and everybody respects her.
But decades after, the people of the village lost their faith to the King. They started worshipping idols and some even think he is dead. The villagers don’t trust the King anymore. They started hating the bride and throw stones at her every time she goes to the villlge. But in order to convince the villagers that the King is real and he is coming back, the servants decided to dress the bride differently. They opted not to follow what was written in the book. She was forced to dress sensually and made her look like a prostitute. She was forced to go to the village dressing that way.
But one day, The King came back. He saw the crying and tortured bride. He was angry and turned to the servants and asked them what have they done to the bride. He punished the servants who degraded the image of his bride and brought them to the fire. There were gnashing of teeth and sorrowful cries.
The King is Jesus Christ
The Bride is the Church; The Book is the Bible
The Servants are Youth Leaders/Pastors/Elders
The People of the Village are the people of this world.
The change of dress means the change of ways to attract people although the command was to make it pure, and not like the world.
*Inspired by the Parable told by Paul Washer during an interview
Now my question: Are you like the servants who forced the bride to dress sensually just to attract people?
“I look at the whole religious scene today and all I see are the inventions of ministries of man and flesh. It’s mostly powerless. It has no impact on the world. And I see more of the world coming into the church and impacting the church rather than the church impacting the world. I see the music taking over the house of God. I see entertainment taking over the house of God … an obsession with entertainment in God’s house, a hatred of correction, and a hatred of reproof. Nobody wants to hear it anymore.” — David Wilkerson
MATTHEW 7: 21- 23 — Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’
1 TIMOTHY 4:1- 2 — Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from the true faith; they will follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons. These people are hypocrites and liars, and their consciences are dead.
2 TIMOTHY 4: 3-5 — For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
HEBREWS 10:26-27 — For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries.
2 PETER 2:1-3,17-19 — “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep…These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved. For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption.”
People often mistake emotional feelings for true spiritual-mindedness. When they get excited, they “feel close to God” or claim they “feel the Spirit moving.” Some people will only attend churches where they get this emotional “high.” So some churches appeal to such thinking by deliberately arranging activities that provoke excitement and emotional stimulation. They intentionally use such emotionalism to draw crowds. Consider some examples:
Beautiful cathedrals with fancy artwork to create a “mood” that people enjoy
Exciting preachers with dramatic eloquence or dynamic speaking rhythm that arouses and excites
Thrillingmusic with instruments and special singing groups or with hypnotic rhythms that arouse, excite, entertain, and “move the audience” (emotionally)
External rituals such as lighting candles and dimming lights to create a mood
“Tongue-speaking” and “healing testimonials” that excite people emotionally – Often it is the emotions involved that lead people to desire these gifts, regardless of what the Bible says about the true purpose and use of the gifts (1Corinthians 12-14).
Clapping, shouting, continual“Amens” and “Praise the Lord” – Suchactivities are often deliberately used by preachers to stir up emotions and excitement.
Some people think these activities are highly “spiritual,” but honest observation shows that they are just natural emotions, which appeal to man’s carnal, physical desire for excitement and thrills. They are not truly spiritual at all, but are mere externals. They motivate people by means of emotional excitement very similar to what attracts people to ball games, rock concerts, and pictures of pretty girls. People seek “a good time,” enjoying the mood and excitement. But excitement does not equal spirituality.
Outside religion, such desires are often used to lead people to participate in immoral conduct. When done in the name of religion, such motivations often lead to unscriptural beliefs and practices, which are justified as being the will of God but which really do nothing but satisfy fleshly desires.
Is God really pleased by such motivation in worship?
1. EMOTIONALISM IS ELEVATED MORE THAN OUR LOVE FOR GOD’S WORD
Some of us are afraid of getting too emotional when we sing. But the problem isn’t emotions. It’s emotional*ism*. Emotionalism pursues feelings as ends in themselves. It’s wanting to feel something with no regard for how that feeling is produced or its ultimate purpose. Emotionalism can also assume that heightened feelings are the infallible sign that God is present. They’re not. The emotions that singing is meant to evoke are responses to the truths we’re singing about God — his glory, his greatness, and his goodness. Vibrant singing enables us to connect truth about God seamlessly, with passion, so that we can combine doctrine and devotion, edification and expression, mind and heart.
There are people nowadays who consider expository preaching as boring. There are churches who disregarded their Bibles and just catered the emotions or feelings of the congregation. No one wants to study God’s word. No one wants to be like the Bereans.
Our emotions are vital so don’t get me wrong. Corporate worship is important as well. We gather with other people to worship God, but sometimes, the wrong ways of wanting to be ‘filled’ is more emphasized than beholding our God and preaching His Word. Worship has become people’s way to feed their flesh.
2. THE CHURCH BECOMES LIKE THE WORLD
Come as you are?
Jesus ate with sinners like us. But He didn’t preach them like the world. He did not use worldly things to attract them. He preach with power and rebukes.
But what did we do today?
You will see churches who preach love without even knowing what true love is. They say Christ loves sinner yet throw His teachings that tell them that we need to repent. Preachers want more people inside their churches yet don’t even care to feed the sheep. Edify the church. Don’t just entertain them. They need Christ and not your worldly schemes.
I met a man who said at least those people are not partying with the world. That’s why they make the church look like the world. But is that how we should evangelize? The apostles died to preach the Gospel! Yet today, we have Preachers who party like the world. Instead of telling them that God’s grace gives us new affections, they tell us to just be the way we are — filthy sinners. That kind of mentality disrespects our Lord, Jesus Christ. We are commanded to sin no more (John 8:11), but today, we have people who wants to embrace sin.
3. THE FLESHLY DESIRES ARE MAGNIFIED
ROMANS 6:1-7 — What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.
Every time you are tempted to approach God the way the world wants it, remind yourself the purpose why we worship God. We don’t need worldly schemes to tell the Gospel. Let’s be faithful to God and repent our sins. We don’t worship to be entertained. We worship because God deserves it.
WE ARE NOT ROBOTS BUT WE ARE NOT OF THIS WORLD AS WELL: KNOW YOUR LIMITS
“Musical creativity in the church has functional limits. The church will always be exploring new and different ways of expressing God’s glory and our response to him. But God did not assign us the task of singing the most radical, cutting-edge, creative music possible. In other words, our personal music collection is not the best place to begin when thinking about what songs we should sing on Sunday. We want to pursue a creativity that is undistracting, a creativity that unites the church around gospel-centered truth rather than dividing the church over musical innovation.” — Bob Kauflin; Words of Wonder: What Happens When We Sing?
Every denomination has a distinct way of worshipping. Corporate worship style is one of those topics that we cannot settle today. It will only be clear when Christ comes back. But let us be careful on how we worship God. Yes, we are not robots, but let’s not manipulate the people and make our churches look like the world. It’s necessary that we must at least be set apart when we gather. The church is there to feed the sheep and not to entertain the goats. So I hope we will be more mindful regarding this issue inside our churches.
Soli Deo Gloria