About Jesus Steve Sweetman
Of Love Songs
The Lord told Ezekiel the following about
Israel. "… son of man, your
countrymen are talking together about you by the walls and at the doors
of the houses, saying to each other, 'Come and hear the message that has
come from the Lord'. My
people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to listen to
your words, but they do not put them into practice.
With their mouths they express devotion, but their hearts are
greedy for unjust gain. Indeed,
to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a
beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words
but do not put them into practice". (Ezekiel 33:30 – 32)
had all the
appearances of being religious, much like many Christian groups that
most, but not I, call churches today.
The Lord said that His people gather to hear His word as they
"usually do". The
words "usually do" suggest a religious people who are trapped
in tradition and rooted in routine.
They meet together because that's just what they "usually
In the eyes of God, Israelis viewed Ezekiel as a
singer of loves songs and a master of musical instruments.
Their gatherings were meant to be a time of worship and
instruction, but from God's standpoint, they were all about being
entertained, as I believe the words "singer of love songs"
suggest. Therefore, Israelis
who attended these meetings left the same old religious sinner they were
when they came to the meetings because they failed to obey the Lord's
I can't help but compare
Israel's approach to their gatherings
as described in Ezekiel 33 to many 21st century Christian
gatherings. I'm almost 60
years old and I've lived in and around Evangelical circles all of my
life. The Evangelical world
is well on its way to a new liberalism as seen in such movements as the Emergent
Church, seeker sensitive churches, purpose driven churches, mega churches,
prosperity churches, and now, Chrislam churches who mix Christianity
with Islam. The way God
viewed Israel's gathering of the saints in Ezekiel's day is fast becoming the norm in
Evangelical circles today.
Even though the words "go to church" aren't
Biblical, most Christians say they "go to church" every
Sunday. Whether they admit
it or not, when asked why they "go to church", the honest
answer for many is, "that's what I usually do".
The words "usually do" suggest tradition and routine
which many Evangelical groups settled into a few decades back.
Tradition and routine in church eventually leads to boredom,
which I've certainly experienced. Once
boredom sets in, people want change.
Change is what we're now getting in performance based meetings
that are designed to entertain an audience.
The word "audience" is far from Biblical when it comes
to church, but that's what people "attending church" have
become. The audience is
entertained by the performance on the platform.
To escape boredom, and to make church gatherings more
appealing to non-Christians, many Evangelicals have turned their Sunday
gathering of the saints into something resembling a well rehearsed
variety show, with rock bands, dancers, and comic sketches.
Now I like a good concert, whether it's rock, folk, blues, or
whatever, but a concert is not the Biblical mandate for a gathering of
the saints as described in 1 Corinthians 14.
Instead of gathering for worship, instruction, and
encouragement, where everyone participates, Evangelicals relax, sit
back, and enjoy the show. If
the show isn't to their liking, they find one that is. As
in Ezekiel's day, it's all about the singer of loves songs and a well
tuned band. It's pure
entertainment. Granted, the
music is good, but it's not necessarily worship.
Paul McCartney and John Lennon would feel right at home in many
Sunday gatherings, especially where Beatle songs are sung and performed
by a so-called worship team. Believe
it or not, I know Beatles songs are sung in some Sunday meetings.
I just can't see how a song inspired by LSD and free sex can be
sung in worship to the Almighty God.
And, when it comes to a pastor, he has to be a part time comedian
just to keep the audiences' short attention span entertained.
This isn't the first time in Christian history such
secularization of Christian gatherings have taken place.
This happened in the fourth century to accommodate pagans into a
state run church. That
devastated the church back then, and it's doing the same today.
The apostle Paul warned us of this when he said,
"the Spirit clearly says that in the later times some will abandon
the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by
demons". (1 Timothy
4:1) He also said,
"they will be lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God – having
a form of godliness, but denying its power.
Have nothing to do with them". (2
Timothy 3:4 and 5) The
Evangelical Sunday meeting is turning into a self seeking pleasurable
experience that's based on entertainment and not the power of God.
I think the comparison to the Israeli mentality found in Ezekiel
33 to what Paul says about today's church is a valid comparison.
God wasn't happy with
In the spirit of a prophet, those who see and
understand these trends must stand up and proclaim the word of the Lord
as Ezekiel was told to do. After
telling Ezekiel how He felt about