This week we have been looking at the church from a denominational perspective and the lack of power in them. It is obvious just by looking at most churches denominational and non-denominational that there is something seriously wrong with them and the result is a lack of power. They have a form of godliness but deny the power. Each group is proclaiming their own version of the truth, teaching their own way and saying this is the life, come and join us but as Jesus said to the Pharisees, Matthew 23:15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.” Each group is trying to attract people to their “brand” of the gospel and will do anything to attract the crowds. It is still strange to me that a church wants to “brand” themselves, just as a business brands itself. All we have been asked to do is carry our cross. Sadly most brands don’t include carrying our cross but an acceptance of a soft gospel and a cheap grace is sold. They say come and join us and commit to our doctrines and theology. Meanwhile the bible appears to be used but most do not check and see how little it is actually used. The gospel is nothing close to soft. The crucifixion should be a reminder to use.
                Sadly most churches play off the fact that people feel guilty if they do not go to church and for many going is all they have to do. We also now have people not attending anywhere. They worship in the comfort of their own timetable, not having to get involved. That’s another story. So the churches feed the appetite for delicacies even though we have been warned to stay away from them. Psalm 141:4 “Do not let my heart be drawn to what is evil so that I take part in wicked deeds along with those who are evildoers; do not let me eat their delicacies.” Proverbs 23:3 “Do not crave his delicacies, for that food is deceptive.” What happens is a time slot is filled with entertainment and carefully crafted as to not offend the churchgoer as they might end up going somewhere else but they become tolerant to people’s “me” behaviour. A couple of weeks ago we went to the theatre to see a production. I was interested in the theatre’s etiquette statement. “Everyone entering the theatre auditorium must have a valid ticket. Late-comers are seated at a suitable break in the show. Cameras and recording devices are prohibited inside the theatre. Mobile devices must be turned off during the show. In consideration of those who have allergies, scents should be used in moderation. Physicians may leave their seat location with the Box Office. Babes in arms will not be admitted.” I think that statement speaks for itself. What a shock it would be in most churches if the doors were closed when the service started. Half the congregation would be waiting in the foyer. It is always strange to hear people describe church. They say that was great, I felt good. I was moved by the drama. They took care of my kids. The speaker was so clear, great voice, great memory, nice suit. Nice chairs, nice coffee etc. The message was so relevant to my needs. I,I,I,I,I,I,I,I,I,I,I,I,I! As long as it feels good, the Spirit must be moving but most do not realize the power of the Holy Spirit has been withdrawn. God has turned His face from shining on us because of our rebellion. You then simply end up with a production like the theatre but without the etiquette.
                But then the question arises; are you prepared to be a disciple of Christ and carry your cross or have you just joined Club Me to be part of something. Luke 14:27 “And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” Everything will be good as long as they continue to meet my needs and not challenge me too much, all is good. Is that good speaker speaking this week? But please don’t even think about asking me to tithe. I have car payments, kids in school, and an upcoming holiday that I deserve. I have bills. I won’t have any money left. What do you mean get involved? I come to church on Sunday for you to meet my needs. It is not what I can do for you it is what can you do for me. By selling delicacies they attract a crowd who start off singing Hosanna but end up screaming crucify him when things do not go their own way.
                As we talked about before, you do not want to be part of this desolation the man-made church finds itself in. Remember don’t be deceived by numbers many or few. Turn and run. 2 Peter 3:17-18 “Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.” 1 Peter 5:6 “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” 2 Chronicle 7:14 “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”