If there’s one characteristic that plagues many American churches—especially the “megachurches”—is the self-sufficient attitude, along with the image projection. There really is a mindset of not really needing anything; that is, except for people’s money in the offering plates and select individuals (not so much their spiritual gifts, but talents) to fill certain slots throughout the church. But there is a desperate lack of authentic dependence on God and His workings. After all, they have a charismatic speaker, a talented worship band, and generous giving. No, the real trust is in the givers, for if they’re offended, they might leave. So compromises to the Word of God, and certain individuals are overlooked because they don’t fit the image the church is trying to maintain.
Jesus says of the church of Laodicea,
For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. ~ Revelation 3:17
Do we dare to believe, or even consider, that Jesus is saying this to many churches in America? Understand, I am not simply talking about “liberal” churches. No, I am talking about many conservative, Evangelical churches. Oh sure, there’s the pro-life stance, etc., but there isn’t a dependence on Christ for a mighty move of God. Why should there be?
How can there not be? We can plant and we can water, but not a one of us can speak and bring life into a soul. We can stir emotions and work about warm fuzzies, but we are completely incapable of reviving a heart.
We think because we have beautiful buildings filled with lovely people that this itself is a sign of God’s pleasure, despite that many have no real hunger for God and His ways. Worship is about an experience more than exalting the living Savior. Youth groups are more about having fun and going to concerts, not about genuine discipleship and learning to serve Christ with surrender. Preaching tends to be topical rather than expository, lest the preacher seems too radical and people are “offended” by the teachings of Christ and the apostles.
It’s not that such churches are cold towards Christ and the Scriptures, but neither are they hot with passion for Him and His Word. There’s just a measure of indifference toward the things of God and too much love and comfort for the things of this world. Jesus is neither joking or playing games when He says,
I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. ~ Revelation 3:15-16
How do we ever even begin to correct the problem? Through prayer! Serious prayer. Crying out to God for restoration, and confessing the mediocrity that’s offered in His name. When will we ever learn that simply because something is offered to God doesn’t mean He approves of it? God is never impressed with half-hearted devotion and lip service.
Do we really have it all under control? No, not if we’re not totally dependent on Him. Apart from Him, we can do nothing!