What kind of seating do they have? What style of music do they play? Are there programs for the kids during the service? Do they serve Starbucks coffee, or just some generic stuff? Are they doom and gloom, or are they positive and uplifting?
When I was growing up, the church probably had the same types of issues floating around. There were “contemporary” songs that were pushed, country styles, quartets, trios, etc. Some churches had padded pews while others still had the hard oak. And don’t get started on carpet color!
But it seems that today the sense of loss is more pervasive. Society has always needed to worship. It’s hard-wired into our souls.
He has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning. –Ecc. 3:11
Instead of turning to the one source in which God teaches us His very heart, humanity seems frustrated, turning like children from complex math, tossing the book out in favor of what feels right.
We look at our lives and realize that we don’t live up to God’s purity standards. We lust, we covet, we use things for selfish gain. We trample on other people in a rush to get what will make us happy. In the end, it doesn’t make us happy, only miserable. So, we blame God. And the cycle keeps twirling.
The moral crisis in America is the same that faces the world. It is nothing new. And it’s not complex or difficult to parse out. We don’t need to split hairs over whether it stems from the SCOTUS decision on redefining marriage or if it is rooted on corporate greed or abuse of power.
It comes down to one root cause: Rejection of God.
So many people like the idea of a “loving God,” but blanch at the idea of a “wrathful God.” Of course, no one is free of showing wrath. And that doesn’t prevent them from loving. In fact, wrath often comes from a sense of threat against something we … love.
The problem is that we like to do what we want, which God tells us is harmful to us. We might know this as sin. God hates sin just like we hate cancer, for instance. So, God loves us, but hates sin (even though we might like sin for its seemingly instant gratification).
Add to that the fact that God is described as just, we have a whole picture. God loves the world, yet hates sin and is totally just. So, sin (which He hates) will need to be dealt with in justice.
When people reject God’s wrath over sin, they ultimately reject His love, too. It would be the same as embracing cancer. The victim will die, so how much do you love the person if you’re celebrating their cancer? Not much.
The cure for our world is to accept God’s rules. And the only way to accept them is to accept His payment for our guilt, letting His Spirit then give us new life.
Until this happens, I suspect there will be many out there feeling like they are all alone, just like Elijah did. Just sitting there, alone in the church. But we’re not alone.