When It’s Wrong to go to Church
Before I address that question, maybe I should address another question. “Is it ever wrong to go to church?” Based on this article’s title, I’m sure you can tell that I believe the answer is “yes,” otherwise I’d have changed the title. OK, so when is it wrong to go to church, and how can I know when that time has arrived? The answer is when you see famine. “ ’Behold, the days are coming,’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘when I will send a famine on the land— not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD.’ ” Amos 8:11.
When a famine arrives what must we do if we are to survive? Find greener pastures. Which we must also do if the church we are attending is no longer (or never was) preaching the word of the Lord. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” Matthew 4:4. As bread feeds our physical stomachs, the word of the Lord feeds our spiritual stomachs. It literally nourishes our souls and equips us to face the world, the flesh, and the devil—who is no slouch when it comes to throwing incinerating darts at us (Ephesians 6:16). The word of the Lord is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path, that helps us traverse in the darkness of this world (Psalm 119:105). And so, if the pulpit of our church has exchanged the protein-rich beef patties for soy, it means it’s time to move on.
How do we detect soy-filled sermons? What do they look like? They look like preaching tradition over truth, which is something Jesus had zero time for (Matthew 15:1-20). Another way to say this is, “preaching man’s thoughts over God’s,” and this comes in many, many ways. It comes as pushing man’s psychology over the Bible, man’s scientific understanding over the Bible, and man’s political understanding over the Bible, which comes in both red and blue colors. It doesn’t even have to be teaching that opposes the Bible’s, but teaching something the Bible doesn’t actually teach, which is something God is not at all amused by. “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book” Revelation 22:18. Even if a church is preaching God’s Word, more or less, but they’ve wrapped a political flag around the cross, or any other kind of flag for that matter, what they’ve done is baked poison into the bread—and if you eat poisoned bread, it’s not going to leave you any better off than starving. Which means it’s time to find new pastures. What kind of pastures?
Pastures where the entire word of the Lord is faithfully proclaimed in its proper context, and not just the culturally expedient parts that make us feel good. Pastures where the word of the Lord is practiced, which means holding leadership accountable to 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, and the congregants accountable to Matthew 18—regardless of how long they’ve attended or how much they give. Pastures where they live in the expectancy of Christ’s return as they seek to save the lost by faithfully proclaiming the gospel outside of its four walls. And then once you’ve found that, settle in and feast upon the word of the Lord which is able to nourish and save your soul. “Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” John 6:35.