So I am sitting in a church service and I hear a number of clichés and of course it really got me thinking. Cliches like “Welcome to the House of the LORD!” or “This is GOD’S house and we are to give Him our best.” Now, this really got me thinking (actually, it got me going). If by chance, a church building is REALLY GOD’s house…what would we really do there? Would were not first take off our shoes (as good Canadians do) before we enter His house? Would we not wear dirty clothes! We would not wear shorts! Would we not take a bath before we came, even in 100 degree weather? Would we take our own coffee or would we expect Him to be a good host and serve us coffee or tea or cold drink? Would we eat crackers in His house? What does GOD’S house really look like? Why do we really call it GOD’S house? Is He waving good bye to us when we leave? Does He sleep in his house? What is GOD’S house to us? Is it just a building for a meeting place? If so, why do we still call it His house? Is GOD’S house really a holy place, a place that is set apart? Can I say “welcome to GOD”S house on a Sunday morning at the theatres? When does it shift from being GOD’S house to a theatre? Now, is the building really His house or is it outside on the beach? On the golf course? Under the stars? In the cosmos, what about my living room? Can that be GOD’S House? I am baffled!
You see, I live in a subculture of Evangelicalism that uses a bunch of bad clichés and prooftexts when trying to preach a sermon. I hear terms like “GOD’S house” “Hallelujahhhhhhhhhhhhhh” “Praaaaise the Looord” and my personal; favorite “Come on…Come on.” (Where are we going?) By prooftexting I mean how one takes a single verse and twists it to make his/her point, never mind what the Bible really says about the totality of a single topic.
And then there are all these memories my friend brought up from ages ago at teen camp. For those of you who grew up in church, do you remember that youth camp experience where by Thursday night they had us burning our “secular” cassette tapes and albums? For the record, I am still in favor of burning country music. Let’s get back to the point. And you always had this hyper-spiritual teen who would stand up and say “I burned my AC?DC tape and it hissed. I think a demon came out of it when I burned it.” (Uh No. It’s plastic. That’s what happens when you burn plastic.” And then if we’re all honest, we went back six months later and bought the same tape again anyway.
I keep thinking that I live in a subculture that is unique. I must confess that I live in a “holiness culture.” Now in a holiness culture one adapts to the behavior patterns and character of Christians around them. It is these patterns and character expectations that make a person more or less holy, or it is a set of unwritten expectations that are place on a person before they even join the group. So, in a holiness culture I am perceived as holy by what I do and don’t do. Holy people don’t smoke, drink alcohol, cuss, or dance. “Holy” people dress in their best for Sunday church and go to every meeting that is happening at the church. And to be honest the list can go on…but for time sake I will end it here, I think you get the point.
You see there are things that I really HATE about this culture in which I live, and there are also things that I love. I do hate the clichés and the prooftexting, I hate the catch phrases and I hate it that church ends when the sermon is over. I really hate some of the pettiness that I see and as I sit and write this: This is exactly what Jesus speaks out against in the book of Luke. He talks about hypocrisy and I have to admit that the very thing I hate about the sub culture in I find myself in, is the very thing that is in me.
But, as I write this I do love the fact that I believe in a GOD who does fill His people with His Spirit and that one experiences the presence of GOD in a rich and dynamic way that moves people beyond all realm of experience! I have to admit that there is something about being in the presence of GOD’s Spirit and it being so tangibly thick! Then I am struck dumb as I watch young people, my kids included worshipping GOD with their hands raised, eyes closed and mouths pouring out praises to HIM! Teens, lost in the presence of GOD…..speechless. This is not forced, not commanded, not clichéd, just simple honest worship.
So the thought that I am left with at the end of this post is that God has not called us to be like those around us. He has called us to be like himself. Holiness is nothing less than conformity to the character of God. Just a summer reflection!