(APW note: Thank you to one of the faithful blog readers who sent the reference to me! This piece was written by Brother Rory Moore in March 2010. I really appreciate the help Brother, God bless you!)
Does Jesus go to church?
Most Christians think so, we did too. I wonder what Jesus might think if He showed up as a member or visitor to a gaggle of local assemblies in the modern era.
Let’s use a bit of wry humor and imagination as we follow Jesus around the local church scene!
A lot of people see Jesus as a solid pillar in the assembly, a faithful tither, a 40 Days of Purpose reader, a G-12 church grower, involved in the youth program, He led church car washes, and sang in the synagogue choir. He lit a candle and some incense as He prayed a prayer written by some obscure “saint” or faceless organizational writer. He has a benign smile on His face as he watches a famous evangelist kiss the popes ring. He’s a Catholic and a Protestant, a Mormon and a Lutheran, He’s a Baptist and an Evangelical, He’s orthodox and reformed. He’s Community and Independent, He’s Pentecostal and Church of Christ, he’s Calvary Chapel and He’s Adventist. He’s a Jehovah Witness and a Methodist, He’s everybody’s jesus and a real Superhero that changes His church clothes like lightning.
He helps with the chicken dinners and is known as a nice guy and helpful to others. He gives the pastors (rulers of the synagogue), good advice and testifies once in a while. He could really tell good stories and He speaks with admiration of some of the Big Names in Christianity.
Sunday 10:00 am
At the Church of God in Christ (or COGIC for short) Jesus stands there, songbook in hand as the congregation sings three or four “worship” tunes, including a contemporary “rap” number by the youth group. He politely listens to the announcements and a testimony about the pastors’ vision for ministry. He listens as a worshipper’s prayer request “for God to use the doctor” in healing her childs illness and for the money it will cost for her expensive drug medicine..
He moves to the platform for the sermon and claps for the message on “God Wants to BLESS You” which is about the “Faith Promise-Seed-Sowing, Fathful- Tithing Road to Miracle financial blessings”. The Italian suited speaker wearing a Cartier watch glances over at Jesus with a grin and a wink, and thinks to himself that Jesus is sure blessing his ministry.
At 2pm He walks into and old-time “Holiness Church of God”. As he walks in and takes a seat about at about the middle of the pew in the tenth row from the front, many heads cast sideward glances over at Him making note of His “hippie” clothing, sandals, and beard.
The hard-line holiness preacher tore into the modern hairstyles on women, wearing of jewelry, women wearing mens pants, and especially zeroes in on long hair and beards on men.
An altar service is opened and several of the clean-shaven men try to take Jesus to the altar to get Him saved. They don’t know the pastor is embezzling church funds and having an affair with the church secretary, but Jesus knew all about it.
On Wed. nite, He visits the mid-week service at the People’s Assembly and a church-board meeting at the church campus Admin building. As the deacons and church Board discuss the pastors upcoming vacation schedule and retirement account funding, he wonders why His apostles never did that for Him.
On a Friday The Lord goes down to the abortion protest and carries a flag, and holds a “Take Back America sign. That night He attends the youth service to check on their preparations for the Great America trip and he watches and listens to the youth group musicians blasting a “Christian” rock number…. and He notices the song says nothing about Him.
He decided to visit a Messianic congregation where the Torah is read by the Rabbi, and followed by an exhortation to follow the Law of Moses. He noticed they glossed over the New Testament quite a bit. he remembers how He used to wear the talith and how He cast some demons out in the Synagoge back in Nazareth.
These folks don’t seem to discern the same Pharisee devils glowering at Him with resentment through the eyes of the Torah reader, that knew Him back in Capernaum. .
Later, He pops in on a 7th Day Adventist meeting to check them out as they read and quote from Prophetess Ellen G. White. At the fellowship lunch he notices they cook the vegetarian food on a gas stove and He remembers how he fed fish to thousands and ate meat at the Passover.
He visits the Pentecostal church at 11am after exactly 1 hour at the Catholic church, where He prayed the rosary, crossed Himself, Hails Mary, blesses the Pope, and lights a candle. Mass is kind of hard for Him though, as he looks down at His hands as the priest does the ritual with the host.
The large crowd at the “Mass” is unaware of what the priest is doing with the altar boys, but Jesus knows.
At the Pentecostal church, the music and crowd response was powerful. This was followed by some testimonies and one of ladies cried as she told everyone how the devil was really attacking her. Another testified how the pastor had healed him and he was so glad Brother Pastor got that new, black Mercedes because he deserved it.
The song service shifted into the tithes and offering time and the “pumped up” believers gave sacrificially to the building fund and for the guest speaker, Apostle Hugh Mongus who would preach “Going to the Next Level!” The folks loved it and the vision of a BIGGER building and BIGGER crowd was very exciting. Then Jesus remembered in John 6:66 how the crowd turned their back on Him.
Sunday evening, He visits the 5pm Community Church services and then a sparsley attended Baptist service at 6:30 which had announced a special “prayer meeting“.
Jesus was glad for the 8 people who showed up from the 135 member church. The Community Church service went well as they showed a film about the rapture followed by a report on the churches budgetary needs. Jesus scratched His head and tried to remember where He said the rapture was post, pre, or mid-trib.
Afterwards, he visits with one of the church families and they sit and watch Christian television ’till midnight. The lovely program hosts make three or four requests for “gifts” and a special “Christian artist” performs to a rockin’ guitar-laced and double-time drum solo.
Other guests with famous, Christian household names are interviewed and tell of their ministry accomplishments and their million-plus book and DVD sales. A beautiful lady in a flowing, low-cut gown sings the song finale and the smiling hosts say good-nite with their fourth reminder for the folks to remember them in their prayers and giving.
Have you ever wondered how Jesus does it?
And that somehow He approves and gets along fine with all the mess of confusion that calls itself “Christian”?
Someone may have invited Jesus to church once upon a time back in Matthew 13.
And coming into his own country he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works?
Is not this the carpenter`s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joseph, and Simon, and Judas?
And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?
And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honor, save in his own country, and in his own house. And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.
Well, the modern version of Jesus has something in common with the Biblical account: “And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.”
Back in old Galilee they let him speak a little, but that was about it.
Then they tried to KILL Him.
Sure, they had heard all about Jesus and His mighty works, but when He came to visit, they were more interested in keeping their traditions than in in Him. In fact, in Luke 4, when Jesus went to church and spoke from the scriptures, this happened: And they were all filled with wrath in the synagogue, as they heard these things;
What do you suppose would happen in one of those churches today, if the real Jesus showed up?
I daresay say He would be most unwelcome.
He might heal people. Demons would manifest and be cast out. The real truth would be spoken and the leaders of the church referred to as “snakes and vipers, hypocrites”, tithe-taking extortioners. About the time of point 2 of a 5-point message, an angry Senior pastor and his assistant, along with several upset deacons would be trying to “lay hands” on Him like they did in Nazareth.
When He spoke to the leaders of God’s people He said:
-Woe unto you Pharisees! for ye love the chief seats in the synagogues, and the salutations in the marketplaces.
– Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye cleanse the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full from extortion and excess.
Woe unto you, ye blind guides
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye tithe mint and anise and cummin, and have left undone the weightier matters of the law, justice, and mercy, and faith: but these ye ought to have done, and not to have left the other undone.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, even while for a pretence ye make long prayers: therefore ye shall receive greater condemnation.
Ye offspring of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.
Ye serpents, ye offspring of vipers, how shall ye escape the judgment of hell?
He spoke to the churches in Revelation:
But this thou hast, that thou hatest the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there some that hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit fornication.
So hast thou also some that hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans in like manner.
But I have this against thee, that thou sufferest the woman Jezebel, who calleth herself a prophetess; and she teacheth and seduceth my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed to idols.
And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he that searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto each one of you according to your works.I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
So because thou art lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spew thee out of my mouth.
Because thou sayest, I am rich, and have gotten riches, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art the wretched one and miserable and poor and blind and naked:
In short, most churches would kick Jesus out and some would want to kill Him again, just like they did the first time. If a church isn’t doing what Jesus did, it is like an assembly that Jesus said: I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and thou art dead.
Look around folks, the church on the corner may be busy, and you will see many nice people, but if they are not doing what Jesus said, it is time for a reality church-check.
Pretty scary isn’t it?
I mean what Jesus actually said to the leaders of God’s people back there, and what he said to the churches in Revelation 2 and 3? Can you see why it might just be a good idea to stay home for a few months and really read the Scriptures for yourself? And ask God to speak to you and show you anything in your life that might displease Him?
.. but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons: freely ye received, freely give.
Get you no gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses;
no wallet for your journey, neither two coats, nor shoes, nor staff: for the laborer is worthy of his food.
And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to the whole creation.
He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned.
And these signs shall follow (accompany) them that believe:
in my name shall they cast out demons; they shall speak with new tongues;
they shall take up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall in no wise hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken unto them, was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.
And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word by the signs that followed. Amen.
When I visit and look around at many of the church services being held, I have wondered “where did Jesus go today?”