When The Lamp Goes Out
Robert Wurtz II
“If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (Matthew 6:23b ESV)
Our passage is one of the most gripping in all the Bible. It is both a question and a statement. If someone or something that has been designed by God to be a source of light has instead become a source of darkness — how great is that darkness? We know from a cursory reading of Revelation 2 that if the fire goes out, the lampstand will be removed. Why? A lampstand with no fire (light) is just one more thing to stumble over in a darkened room. God will not long tolerate a church that is falsely representing the kingdom of God. This can play out in various ways, but one thing is certain — if the light of a church goes out, and the church begins to emanate darkness, it has already been abandoned of God.
Abandoned to Abomination
For many years I have tried to herald a warning that many churches, especially youth oriented churches, are behaving dangerously. Having grown up in the 80s on a steady diet of MTV and the various power ballad love songs, I have a good handle on the power of music and atmosphere to move a person. In fact, nothing has the power to motivate a person quite the same way as does sound and music. Some have gone as far as to say that Satan was created with an internal musical instrument and may have led music or worship in Heaven. (Ezekiel 28:13) So he knows how to influence with music, etc.
So what happens when a “forty something” year old man sees youth centers and churches imitating the very 80s style MTV-ish — concert-ish environment that God delivered him out of when he was born again? What happens when modern worship looks like a scene out of the 1984 blockbuster “Purple Rain” (Click Here for a precursor to todays’ “P&W” atmosphere, hands lifted, and the whole lot.)? Well, he points out the error, loses friends, gets labeled a legalist, pharisee, critical spirit, mean spirited, fuddy-dud, etc., ad nauseum. That is, until Chrisma Magazine runs an article this week about a so-called “pastor” using his “church” as (pardon the expression) a “Sexy Spring Break Night Club.”
Jennifer Leclaire, in her news section, “Watchman on the Wall” writes:
“When you think you have seen it all … the church is converted into a night club every night,” McKeithen said. “You should be warned that it is X-rated. You can even buy sexually explicit T-shirts at the site. Lets not forget how creative the reverend has gotten just in case you forgot your cash. There is an ATM machine located at the church entrance for your love offering. This is supposedly a youth ministry, but we will let you decide.” (Click HERE for the full article)
Understand that when I was a teenager much of what we see today would have been considered abominable — just like what is going on in Florida is an abomination even to young Christians now. What is common today was on the “fringe” 30 years ago; but few believed it could ever become commonplace. Well, here we are. It only took about 30 years to become acceptable. In “30 years” we have watched meetings transformed to the point that had a Christian from the mid 80s been transported to our times, they would not recognize them as “church” or “worship.” I suggest they would have thought they were either at a concert or a night club, but not a church meeting.
What if in 30 years we look up and the Spring Break church in Florida is commonplace? Perhaps you say, “It won’t happen!” Well, that’s what people said 30 years ago. The churches will never look and feel like a club and worship services will never look and feel like a Journey or Prince concert.
Perhaps I will close this entry with Jennifer Leclaire’s lamentation and call to action:
Again, I’m shaking my head. Where’s the fear of the Lord? Why are some churches looking more like bars and strip clubs than holy sanctuaries? Why are pastors getting minors high and making sexual advances toward them? Why are so ministry leaders falling into sexual immorality, for that matter, and why are denominations allowing practicing homosexuals into leadership?
We need to repent. Yes, you and me. We need to posture our hearts like Daniel and repent for the sins in the church even if we’re not the ones committing them because if one part of the body suffers, all parts suffer with it (see 1 Cor. 12:16). The body of Christ is suffering, it’s sick and wading in sin. The Great Falling Away is underway. We can sit and point fingers or we can fall to our knees and intercede for the church. I choose the latter. How about you?