The idea for this title belongs to my dear wife, Debbie. As we went for a walk the other day, we discussed the issues that will follow. Just today, I was meditating on the content for this blog posting. The heart behind it was further stirred by this Facebook entry from a friend:
“You know, I'm having a hard time understanding why so many people who have left our old church are so eager to jump right into another one. Makes me think of that proverb about a dog returning to its vomit.”
Let me first say, this is not written as a criticism of anyone. It is really more of an exhortation . . . to SEEK THE LORD rather than repeat another round of futility. I can speak from experience on this, because I ultimately had to go through another round of painful dysfunction (and drag my family through it as well). The reason: institutionalization caused me to feel that I needed to find another “thing”. My loving Father let me find it, and the lesson this time was like the proverbial hot stove . . . hot enough to keep me from touching it again!
The title of this blog post refers to ‘attractions’ or ‘entry points’ into more religious distraction and dysfunction. God clearly loves His people and of course he also loves leaders. He uses men to deliver messages and He sometimes works through meetings (though many times He does so despite us, not because of our amazing meeting skills). Even though He uses these things, they alone are not indicators of the health of a particular spiritual expression. I can say emphatically that if these are the criteria that attract us to “joining” another religious franchise, we still have some foundational lessons to learn.
I am continuously bombarded by emails and Facebook messages about some “man of God” who delivered some extraordinary message. Maybe the message is wonderful, but does that automatically mean one should join an organization that person is connected to?
I have friends who have been languishing in a “church” for years. When I most recently asked why they’re still there, my friend replied, “We like the preaching.” This is curious in light of the fact that my friend is aware that the people doing the preaching have a history of abuse, control, manipulation, and lying. The friend was speechless when I asked, “What good is preaching when they don’t practice what they preach?”
Too many Christians believe there is something spiritual about listening to sermons every week. There can be, but there is no biblical evidence that it is God’s purpose for us to listen to someone drone on and on, week after week, while a “congregation” passively listens. Luke refers to his gospel as an account of what Jesus “began to do and teach”. And yet I’ve found few people preaching who even know how to “do,” unless doing is simply defined as telling others what to do.