Right now, I want you to think of the most beautiful wedding you have ever attended or seen pictures of. Maybe it was your own, but for me…I always picture the royal wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana.
My mother insisted we watch it live on television. She was particularly fond of the royal family, and liked to make a fuss over things like this. She would drum up enthusiasm from my sister and I by telling us, “It’s history”, or some such thing. Meaning that if we didn’t care about this then we didn’t care about anything in the world…EVER! The royal wedding prompted countless, “It’s like a fairy tale. It’s a real-life fairy tale”.
She, of course, was right. The royal wedding was truly magnificent in every way, and as close to a fairy tale wedding as any American girl would ever get. Lady Di had captured the world’s fascination in the time leading up to the wedding, and everything about her on that glorious day set the tone for many years to come.
She was the perfect princess. She was young and beautiful, full of spirit, yet proper enough for royalty.
Her wedding gown was just what every little girl had fantasized about their whole lives, but didn’t even know it until they (we) saw her in it. The scene of her exiting the carriage and walking down the aisle is something I will never forget.
Her groom, a real-life Prince no less, eagerly awaiting her arrival. The perfect bride.
It’s become very popular in our culture today to focus on the groom when he first sees his bride on their wedding day. You can find countless videos and pictures celebrating the reaction a groom has when he sees his bride adorned in her wedding gown for the first time. If you haven’t seen any of these videos, you should do an internet search and watch a few. They are pretty precious.
We’ve all seen this before – a groom stands at the alter, the wedding party in place, all the guests are there, and some kind of official is ready to perform the ceremony. Then, the traditional (or not) music begins to play, signifying the bride’s arrival.
Cameras roll, and capture everything from shock to tears from the groom when he sees the woman he so desperately loves, finally walking down the aisle to take his hand and begin the rest of their lives together as one flesh. So special!
Now, how do you think this groom would feel if people were hurling insults at his bride?
Saying things to demean her. Things to degrade her. Tear her down. Disrespect her. Mock her.
Maybe, “Well, she’s a bride for someone who doesn’t like brides”.
How about this…let’s don’t call her a bride. That’s old-fashioned. Not nearly “hip” enough. Let’s make up another word. Something that won’t sound so bride-ish. We wouldn’t want anyone to think that’s what she is.
Like, “Female In Waiting”
Wait…that’s not today’s PC.
How about, “Trans-Nuptually” something or other.
Sound ridiculous? Good…now maybe you’ll see just how ridiculous some of the current religious whims really are.
Churches today all across this country, and the world, have begun to employ tactics like these in a seriously misguided effort to appeal to the unchurched masses. All on a whim.
Many of these efforts are harmless, like preachers wearing jeans with holes in them and flip-flops.
Who cares? Jesus wore a robe and sandals. Wear flip-flops if you want, but preach the Word of God.
You can wear your Sunday best, but if you’re just a motivational speaker, or a good storyteller that can hardly be bothered to work Jesus into your little story…well, all the tea in China will never make what you are serving the Water of Life. Lost souls who attend your church will thirst forever if they rely solely on you. They will never know what Jesus spoke of in John 4:14, But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again—ever! In fact, the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up within him for eternal life. The saved among your congregation can never grow, develop, or even feed their spiritual needs. Like newborn infants, desire the pure spiritual milk, so that you may grow by it for your salvation, 1 Peter 2:2.
If this is what you are doing, then you’re not a preacher…you’re a performer.
Other methods and ideas are strange at best, and can be downright spiritually dangerous.
One idea I find just silly is the new fad of naming our churches things that don’t sound like a church. It seems like some have fallen into the trap of trying to choose the coolest name out there. Something like these hipster churches: Rapture Riders, Mustard Seed Manufacturing, Daytona 500s, Love Matters Inc., or G³. (I just made these up, so I’m sorry if you go to a church with one of these names.) Now, I’m not sure what the point is behind this. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…it’s a tree? All I do know is, God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33).
That brings us to some of the more dangerous aspects of these current religious whims. They deal more directly with the establishment of church.
Here’s an example of a motto that a great number of churches in the U.S. are using:
“We’re a church for people who don’t like church”.
Maybe you don’t see the danger in a tactic like this. It’s harmless, right? We’re just trying to reach people who have been turned off by traditional churches in the past. People who haven’t been to church in years. It’s just an advertising campaign. We’ll do anything to reach the lost.
Let me help you see this more clearly.
By mocking, belittling, degrading, and disrespecting the Bride of Christ we’re going to bring in more people?
Well, yeah…that makes sense. No doubt, they will come to you in droves.
But how do you think Jesus feels about what you’ve just done? The bride He so longs to be united with, the one He adores, the one He gave Himself for (Ephesians 5:25)…that is the one that you have just so ignorantly disrespected.
How hip and cool is that?
Wonder what that wedding video would look like?
The Church, as it is now, has not come into a complete relationship with Jesus. As Paul explains in 2 Corinthians 11:2, the Church is betrothed to Jesus. It is the responsibility of the Church to remain spiritually pure, I have promised you in marriage to one husband—to present a pure virgin to Christ. Let us look carefully at the next several verses from Corinthians:
But I fear that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your minds may be seduced from a complete and pure devotion to Christ. For if a person comes and preaches another Jesus, whom we did not preach, or you receive a different spirit, which you had not received, or a different gospel, which you had not accepted, you put up with it splendidly!
What mighty and wise words!
The devil is so clever, so powerful. We must be ever vigilant and on the lookout for his deceitful ways. Of course he wants us to do things that will be unpleasing to God. Satan is the Father of Lies. That’s his job; to do whatever he can to damage, or keep you from even having, your relationship with God.
Satan wants you to look as much like the world as possible…when you were called to do EXACTLY the opposite! Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God, Romans 12:2.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, I say to you that we must be oh so careful in how we go about the Lord’s business.
Words do matter. I tell you that on the day of judgment people will have to account for every careless word they speak. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned, Matthew 12:36.
Don’t get so caught up in trying to draw people in that you actually cross the line on a whim. Oh yeah, there is a line. If you are having trouble seeing it, you probably need to pray about that.
We can’t just put on all these shows and tactics the world finds appealing and then just sprinkle a little Jesus on top and call it good. You will answer for that. It’ll probably go a little something like this…Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity, Matthew 7:20-23.
Woe unto the churches and the people who have been deceived into thinking they were serving God, but they were serving the devil. Do not let your spiritual weakness become the devil’s gain. Any leader with a little charisma can come along and mislead others for their own selfish purposes. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves, Matthew 7:15.
Don’t be a victim. He that hath ears, let him hear (Matthew 11:15).
Our first love must be Jesus. Only Jesus. Nothing but the blood of Jesus. When a church puts that aside, makes Him secondary, or just forgets…they are no longer a church. You can have all the lavish productions, expensive music and sound equipment, first-class coffee and cappuccino bar, and theater-style seating you want…but it won’t change the fact that you are just a building. Four walls and hollow on the inside. Gone with the whim.
If you are afraid you may be in a church like this, or your church is heading down this path of deceit, pray. Pray hard. Go to the Lord and ask for His divine guidance. Beg Him to intervene. To enlighten your church leaders and other members. Search the scriptures. Ask questions. Never be afraid to ask questions in your church. The Lord will lead you if you let Him.
Dear Lord, I pray that my intentions here have not been misunderstood. Lord, I seek only to bring glory to Your great name. To never bring reproach on Your Bride or disrespect her in any way. I ask for Godly wisdom in discernment to choose only a divine approach to reach the lost and those in need of a church home. For I am weak and unworthy, and fully aware that Satan is ever present. Go with me now, lead, guide, and direct me, and give me an open and willing heart so I may hear Your voice. These things I ask in Jesus name, Amen.
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