God resides in a building made with hands. We call that place the “house of God.” There is one day of the week that He is more present there , and that is when we are supposed to go meet with Him.
We follow pagan practices that we insist are scriptural because they are called by terms that appear in our favorite versions of the Bible, never taking the time to do deeper studies of the original text in the original languages or the full context of the passage in question or the actual historical record to come to understand just what was intended by the writers of scripture and what historically changed that intent, and for what purpose.
We give special deference to professional orators – preachers – because of the title or “office” that they hold or the seminary degree they have earned or the “ordination” granted to them, but we don’t allow the scriptures that that deference is supposedly based upon to teach us whether or not that deference is actually called for. And we trust that when those teacher / orators tell us that something is right or wrong, biblical or heretical, that they are correct because of their position of apparent authority.
We go and sit to listen for an hour or so each week to an oratorical performance (called a “sermon”), believing that having done so gives us some sort of credit on a heavenly scoreboard, yet we fail to understand the scriptural relevance of other believers with a different gifting – a song … or a spontaneous word of wisdom.
But if someone stands up and starts speaking in tongues … or if someone comes forward for healing … or if someone speaks a word of prophecy … or any of those other goofy things that the New Testament mentions … what then? Oh, those gifts went out with the apostles! Says who? The Holy Spirit? (Oh, no, we can’t talk about Him, either; He also sat down and shut up after Pentecost!)
We know better than God who is allowed to be part of His family, and we discount those who have marginally longer hair … or facial hair … or those who don’t dress “right” … or those who play music in church that our own church culture disapproves of.
We hear someone cite a scripture reference as “Two Kings” instead of “Second Kings,” and right away we think that person is not really acquainted with the Bible, and we assume it’s all just for show.
We judge people’s motives on the basis of our own biases that categorize certain behaviors as being absolute proof of a certain negative condition of the heart.
Bob Goff points out that we spend our whole life avoiding people Jesus spent His life engaging. Remember Zacchaeus? Levi (Matthew)? The woman at the well?
We talk about the grace of God, but we don’t practice it with others in any way that evidences an understanding of what it means to give freely to another who has done nothing to earn or deserve it.
We pride ourselves on our Bible knowledge because we have memorized the 66 books of the Bible, the 7 churches in Revelation, the names of the judges, the kings of Israel and Judah, the names of the apostles, the 10 Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, and dozens of Bible verses, but we do not – nor do we stretch to – know intimately the Author of it all.
We tell women to sit down and shut up, to just submit to us men and be “keepers at home,” completely ignoring all of the God-led women heroes of the Bible and often missing out on the voice of God in our lives in ways that only a woman can hear.
We have libraries and bookshelves and computers that allow us to see and read for ourselves the original manuscripts of the Bible. Yet we allow the most important, most consequential beliefs and understandings about our Creator and His will for us to be dictated to us by one man who is, in actuality, likely no closer to God than we are ourselves!
Sitting in church on a Sunday morning, however, dressed up in our finest, nodding our heads, being agreeable, putting money in the offering plate (because the Bible teaches tithing to the church, right?), obeying the pastor as one to whom God has given the rule over us is … let’s face it …
Unfortunately, daring to ask deeper questions like this can get one branded as a heretic. How DARE you question our church … our pastor (with his MDiv or DD) … our denomination?
Not I. But the One to Whom the deeper things belong.