How the floundering church affects the witness of Christ
It was Halloween. I drove my kids with me to pick up some of our favorite chicken for dinner. Along our way, we drove past a local church—once a Baptist church, now rebranded as a community church. We noticed banners, loud music, inflatables, games, and an enormous amount of foot and car traffic crossing the streets near where we live. This spectacle was an announcement of their annual fall festival. According to their church’s social media account, they had over two thousand people in attendance this year!
My children were wide-eyed as they looked on at those dressed as reapers, witches, ninjas, cartoon characters, comic heroes and villains. Some costumes were less horrific than others. Parents and children walked hand-in-hand, holding their jack-o-lantern candy buckets as they entered a professing Bible-believing church for its fall festival.
My heart sank.
Traffic was slow to get back home and my children took notice of the grotesque details of the various costumes draped over children their age. Church staff welcomed them at the entry gates where God’s house of worship was, for a day, transformed into a worldly place celebrating yet another holiday of man’s creation. Many in attendance were members of this church and many within the community were invited by to participate for one night of activities for everyone.
I glanced at my children and saw their necks extend and their eyes wide open. They were perplexed for a moment. I could almost hear their thoughts as they strained to understand how costumed kids and their parents could enter ‘God’s House’ with jack-o-lantern candy buckets in tow.
In the car, my youngest son broke the silence. He said he saw his friend dressed as the grim reaper. My daughter quickly stated that she doesn’t like Halloween. My eldest remained silent. I took the opportunity to state the following to my children:
“Kids…whose house of worship should this belong to?”
“God,” they replied.
“Would God be honored and pleased with us coming to His house dressed like that?”
“No,” they replied.
“Would God, a jealous God, share his house of worship, with the likes of what we witness tonight?”
“No,” they replied.
And it was at that moment that they began to understand that what they were witnessing, aside from the obvious, was a Christianity that has fallen prey to a pragmatic, mediocre, complacent state.
What can we learn from this?
Halloween has taught us something. What we observed that night is also taking place in other churches across America. God’s house of worship is transformed into something other than what it is intended for. Believers and non-believers become indistinguishable from each other under their costumes and masks as they revel in music, games, and worldly traditions. God’s Word is notably absent, so is His presence and the respect for His place of worship.
Many of today’s Christians have determined that their identification in Christ as a new creature depends heavily on a holiday, a day of the week, a relationship, social group, or political cause.
How can we forget that Jesus Christ himself cleansed the temple after it became a den of thieves? (Mark 11:15-19; Luke 19:45-48; Matthew 21: 12-13; John 2:12-25)
How is transforming God’s place of worship to a festival (or some other substitute for Halloween) edifying to the church body of believers? A pragmatic Christian belief system has shrouded our witness enough so that our effectiveness as a light in this world is dulled dramatically, resulting in many leaving the faith they may never have had biblical roots, to begin with.
As a sinner saved by God’s grace through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, my identity on this earth should rest in Him. This is what my children, my wife, family, friends, coworkers, and all whom I come in contact with should witness about my life. Our character, demeanor, speech, musical affinities, and actions should honor Christ.
This is not to lift up myself by any means but is a declaration of what Jesus Christ has done in the life of one whom He saved from eternal punishment. I need to examine how I am representing Christ daily.
As mentioned, nearly two-thousand people attended the fall festival near my home. The following Sunday, only the church members attended the usual Sunday service. What happened to the two-thousand, I wonder. Despite the taking down of the evening’s decorations, the memory of what took place there will long be remembered by those like us, who witnessed from afar and wondered where Christ was that night.