This piece followed a week of opinions given by others on the internet of things they hated about the church today. The survey gave people an opportunity to sound off honestly and then I took a few pieces after that to explain why the church is still the vehicle of choice for God's chosen.
This probably had the most reaction of anything I wrote up until the piece on atheism that I highlighted last week. It's awesome to show God's word giving an honest view of things that God never wants to see us involved in. Enjoy!
A final note: For those of you wondering, the spiritual gifts series will restart again on January 4th. Christmas time has just been really busy, even busier than I thought I would be. Thanks for your understanding and I hope you receive something from God as we look back.
From February 17, 2009
People always like the picture of God as loving, by your side and taking care of his followers. They don’t like to reference the vengeful, angry God. Remember Moses changing God’s mind not to put a blaze in the step of the Israelites in the desert. No one likes to talk about that.
I’ve heard so many impressions of God that it almost seems funny to me. If you are close to my age, you’ll remember George Burns playing God back in the late 70’s and early 80’s in a pair of films. I’m not sure I want my God as a grumpy old man. Of course, I remember doing a standup routine of God being played by Robin Williams. God being that wacky would scare me as I get older.
But after a week of comments, I heard a lot of comments on people’s views of the church. There were close to 30 comments from different people. The only disappointment I think was that some of you were kind of leery on telling me what you really felt. That’s OK. I do appreciate the comments that I got from people and I really appreciate the push I got from High Calling Blogs and thanks to Marcus’ blog being a counter-point, I think I got even more feedback than I anticipated. So thank you, good people of the internet. I know also that a few of you have promised me some more feedback, so there is still more time. Some of the comments have made me think about how to go and expand this beyond the hate. Most of you gave me very caring thoughts that made me (and continue to do so) think about some other writing ideas to talk about.
When it comes to main thoughts on the negativity of the church, I did see a few major themes. The first was people were tired of hypocrisy. Believe me, I grow tired of it too, but I think hypocrisy is everywhere. It’s just slightly disturbing coming from the church. The second was that the church is too liturgical, meaning there are just simply too many rules for your liking. I’m going to talk about this in another edition, but I feel slightly confused on whether people meant Biblical rules or rules of the leadership of individual churches, but again, I’ll talk more on that later. The third and final theme that jumped out was that the church had become too political or superficial. I’ve been in churches that feature one or the other and I struggled staying in them long. Thankfully, not every church is like that.
I thought two statements really summed up what I like to do with these churches. One reader said that he liked to use the occasions as teaching tools for his children and learning tools for himself. I love that. Why? Because when we go through crazy stuff anywhere, we need to learn from it. But my friend Josh summed up best why people act so reluctant, “People that don’t want to go will grasp for a reason not to go.” I think that’s the truest statement in all the comments. We will talk about all of this in further editions, so I say this is part 1 of only God knows at this point.
Hate, Hate, Hate, Yes God Hates a Few Things Too
I loved how people were sending me emails trying to guess where I was going with this. I heard a lot about the seven deadly sins. I might do something on that in the future. I got asked the question of God being a loving God wouldn’t hate anything. I say, as comedian John Pinette, “Nay, Nay.”
The book of Proverbs shows us many things that King Solomon learned over his lifetime. I admire Solomon. Solomon was King and showed that he had a heart for it by asking God, not for wealth or concubines, but for wisdom. God made Solomon the smartest man of his time and one of my personal favorite stories was of two women fighting over a baby (1 Kings 3:16-28). Solomon proved whom the mother was by a test. The true mother would want no harm to the child. I always wondered if he ever had problems with ego because he was so smart. Then I read Ecclesiastes. I’ll let you read that on your own.
In Proverbs chapter six, Solomon explains that God hates some stuff. Let’s look at this. We’ll start in verse 16. “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.” That’s a tough little list. Let’s break it down piece by piece.
1)Haughty eyes-When I first saw this, I thought of ladies that do that little flutter with their eyes to get what they want. My eldest daughter is three and has it down. It’s really hard to turn her down when she does that. It also makes me want to laugh. But that isn’t exactly what is being talked about here. I like the Amplified version best here, a proud look (the spirit that makes one overestimate himself and underestimate others). You see this happen in sports all the time. I had a bowling team as a teenager of five guys and we bowled for a championship against this all girl team. All I remember were two of the girls on the team, the first was Angela Caroli, whom every guy thought was the hottest girl in the center and the other was Regina Myers, who was probably the best teen female bowler at the time. After we stomped them the first game, they came back and drubbed us the other two games. We thought it would be so easy after the first game, we flamed out after that. It’s not a scripture verse, but always remember, she who laughs last laughs best. It’s dangerous to judge. Jesus gave us a warning in Matthew 7:3 about this as he said, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” Let’s not believe we are so good and others are not.
2)A lying tongue-This one is pretty easy. We’ve all met people who love to stretch the truth. Solomon even reaffirms this in Proverbs 12:22, “The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful.“ Even today, the Associated Press released a story about Steelers’ quarterback Ben Rothlesberger telling the media that he had broken ribs during the Super Bowl. The Steelers report no such injury. He stated that he found out this week as he had an MRI done. Unfortunately, there is no mandatory doctor check by the team until April and the ribs should be all healed by then, so we may never know the truth here. However, former coach Bill Cowher was quoted as saying that Ben liked to overindulge in the truth when talking about his injuries while Cowher coached the team.
3)Hands that shed innocent blood-Love or hate George W. Bush, there are people that are always going to hold the Iraq war against the man. Since there has never been any proof of weapons of mass destruction, many doubt that the war was necessary other than to relieve Saddam Hussein of power. Shedding of innocent blood kept the Israelites out of the promised land during the time of Isaiah (Isaiah 1:15, 59:7)
4)A heart that devises wicked schemes-My kids are huge into Disney movies and one of my all-time favorites was Aladdin. The sultan’s trusted assistant Jafar schemed and plotted to overtake and become ruler of the land with the genie and the magic lamp. Of course, in the story, our hero Aladdin saves the day to marry the sultan’s daughter, Jasmine. I often think of the story of David and Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11-12). David sees Bathsheba and wants her as his wife. One small problem. Her husband. David has his way with her, gets her pregnant then plots to kill her husband by sending him to the front of the battle lines. They pay the ultimate price by the death of the child shortly after its birth.
5)Feet that are quick to rush to evil-Unfortunately, I’ve known many people in my life that are way too much like this. I’ve known people who like to indulge in heavy drinking that love to tell me how much fun they are having while out drinking with their friends and how boring Christianity is because once you become a Christian, you can’t have fun anymore. Let me see, how much fun is puking my guts up and having a hangover the next morning. That’s fun I’ve always been able to pass on. People never understand how much fun drinking soda or coffee while talking about Jesus with your friends. I still go to sporting events and have a good time while cheering on my team. Life is still fun, it’s just different and totally sober. Proverbs 11:27 drives the point home, “He who seeks good finds goodwill, but evil comes to him who searches for it.”
6)A false witness that pours out lies-A false witness is a little different than a lying tongue. Again, the Amplified Bible clears this a little better, “A false witness who breathes out lies (even under oath).” At first I thought of the funny Joe Izuzu commercials from the late 80’s, but immediately my wife thought of the sad story near our former home in Florida. Last July, the story of two-year old Kaylee Anthony broke to national media after her mother, Casey, repeatedly lied to authorities about the whereabouts of her little girl. The story had a sad end in late December as the little girl’s remains were found only 15 houses from where they lived. Casey maintains her innocence, but the lies told to this point have not helped her case. It’s not looking good for Casey and she might want to keep Proverbs 19:5 in her mind, “A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who pours out lies will not go free.”
7)A man who stirs dissension among brothers-I struggled thinking up good examples of this until I thought about talk shows. People like Jerry Springer, Maury Povich, Geraldo Rivera, Sally Jessy Raphael and Jenny Jones came to mind. Magazines like The National Enquirer and news sources like TMZ were other examples. The scriptural examples were even harder. I thought of Judas, but other than the kiss, he wasn’t what I would call a troublemaker. So I had to think for a while and I found something Paul said near the end of Romans. Romans 16:17-18 says, “I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naïve people.”
So, you want to hate some stuff. It’s okay. I’ll give you one more set of verses to dwell on. Romans 12:9-21 tells us to have love and respect for others, but verse 9 sums it up well, “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.”
I love you guys!