Copyright © 2005 Jordan White
Some years ago, my family and I made many visits to a large church in
This church was a particular source of comfort to me and my family during a very hard time in our lives. A family-operated business was in the process of collapsing, ending a long-cherished dream. I was suffering from nerve damage in my cervical vertebrae, causing excruciating pain, headaches, and the partial paralysis of my right arm. Family members were at odds with one another, for many real and many perceived difficulties.
I loved the folksy, personal, down-home way the staff related to the congregation; I loved the notes we got with a “P.S. We’re praying for you!” I felt that, with the support of these kind and thoughtful people, we could not only get through our present problems, but could weather any future ones, too.
Wanting to give back what we felt we had taken, we made very generous contributions to the church. We attended seminars, Christmas Eve services, pageants and dinners. We loved every minute of it. We learned, we grew, we focussed on the eternal and the hope of a better life, both on Earth, and in Heaven, when that time came. We shopped in the church’s bookstore. I still have a tiny, ceramic, folk-art-style angel I bought there. I took family members on tours of the beautiful, palm-studded campus and proudly showed them the huge pipe organ, one of the biggest in the western US.
As time went on, our business, family and health issues slowly began to resolve. We were so grateful to the big church for the perspective that it had given us when we needed it so badly. Our support was unswerving, for we had grown so much, learned so much. We knew we would not remain the rather narrow-minded people we had been before.
So it was, that we were more or less taken off-guard when things began to change.
The changes came slowly, at first: A guest speaker, who did not seem quite the right choice to have on the pulpit of a church on a Sunday morning. A sports figure, not one particularly known for any spiritual quailities; a famous comedian, who was quite a sweet man, for sure, but what did he have to say to a congregation hungry for truth and eager for encouragement?
Then, there were the garish, and I mean very garish, displays of patriotism. While it is well and good to appreciate one’s native land, these displays verged on nation-worship, resembling (forgive me) some of the rallies held by a certain Austrian-born dictator more than sixty years ago.
Still, though these changes made us a little uneasy, they didn’t really set off any alarm bells in our heads. We knew that the congregation was large and diverse, and there were many levels of understanding within it, and surely their needs were every bit as important as ours.
Then a decision was made to build The Building. No, not a new sanctuary. Not a Christian education building, a day-care or a school. No, it was just a building, and there didn’t really seem to be much logic behind it. The problem was, it cost millions. Millions which the church did not have. And the county was balking at issuing a permit, citing numerous and knotty problems with the plans.
While the church was struggling to figure out how to pay for this ill-conceived (in my opinion) monstrosity, an even worse, and far more insidious threat was shaping up.
Again, things crept up slowly, like shadows on the bedroom wall of a child afraid of the dark.
One of the shadows was the shadow of wealth-and-health. It seemed as if the leadership of the church were telling us, for some reason, that God wanted us healthy and He wanted us to be making lots and lots of money. Could it be that God wanted us to be rich in order to pay for The Building? Or was someone else counting on it?
Even more frightening shadows began to creep across the walls.
A famous author, noted for best-selling self-help books, was fawningly interviewed on stage. Problem was, he was (and is) a very vocal member of a cultish religion which has no quarter with Christianity. This religion does not acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God and does not subscribe to any need to look to Him for our only salvation. It is a religion based on a dimension of Zionism, seeing itself as an extension of Old Testament conquests and ideologue.
I found this scary. I felt that the congregation should be being taught how to avoid the pitfalls of this and other false religions, and being shown how to lovingly direct others out of it and away from its lies. Instead, these folks had the stage on Sunday morning?
Then there was another shadow, that of a very well-known radio personality. She was interviewed extensively, with the congregation cheering at her in-your-face attitude. She discussed her religion, again, a religion Christians should be leading others out of, not collaborating with. And, all the time, winking in the bright stage lights, was the godless symbol of her religion, worn as a diamond necklace.
The last straw came when the guest of honor was no other than the murderer Shimon Peres, former Prime Minister
and now Foreign Minister of the nation of
And here is this monster, in your very church, drumming up support for this lawless nation! And your church is hosting him, treating him like an honored guest, when he should have been ushered to the door, if he had showed up on his own accord.
At this present time, the church is well over a million dollars in debt. People like myself are loath to send any money to a church that allies itself not only with worldly causes, but out-and-out evildoers. I hate to come to the conclusion that the money needed to pay for The Building caused these horrible compromises, but it does seem to me that the church was openly courting the wealthy, star-struck, and definitely shallow and misled listeners. Instead of offering them hope, prayers, and encouragement as they did for us, they are offering them instead a cup of bitter poison.
“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” I John 2:16