Going to worship is largely a comfortable affair for us because we are used to those that surround us. There is a familiarity, a comfort in seeing old friends. If they weren’t there, it wouldn’t really be worship for us. Or, if that is too strong, it would be weak worship. The service, no matter is sung, said, or prayed just feels lacking without them. Largely this is a good thing. We are meant to be in community.
But, I would submit that we have an old friend who shouldn’t be here. We have somebody joining us in worship all the time who does not belong. We have someone regularly coming who is not here for the right reasons, and very much is adept in even getting us together for the wrong ones.
This old bird always has something to say. This familiar guy can make us laugh but also knows how to point to what really is getting to us. This confidant is someone who we listen to, not just on Sundays, but really all the time. But before I point out who it is, let me point to one verse in Scripture – one we often fail to consider.
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body,” (1 Cor. 6:19-20).
Who is it that we open the door to in this most holy temple? Hate. Now what (and who) we hate may differ but God’s people are far too much at peace today with hatred. We hate the Democrats. Or we hate the Republicans. We hate the gun enthusiasts. Or we hate those who don’t stand for the Second Amendment. We hate the northerners. Or we hate the southerners. We hate liberals. Or we hate conservatives. We hate the atheists. Or gay people. Or black people. Or young people. Or old people. We hate “elevator music.” Or we hate rap. We hate people who wear their pants wrong. Or we hate people who are too uptight about the way people dress. We might be a society divided on so many issues but we are all too comfortable with one thing – our old friend hate. Left, right, and center. Male and female. Young and old. We welcome him into our house all the time. He can even drop in unexpected and we won’t complain.
But Scripture says God is love. And those that abide in love abide in God and God abides in them. Do we therefore really want to make hatred (of anything or anyone) one of our enduring characteristics?
Lest we forget, in a very modern society, less than one hundred years ago, a society filled with Christians participated in the Holocaust. Churches lined up to join in. Sure, there were the few who resisted who we like to pretend today were the norm (or better yet, pretend the Holocaust didn’t happen at all). The norm though was for Christians to embrace and participate in not just hatred but the attempted annihilation of the Jews. It didn’t matter that Christ himself was a Jew. Christians were blinded by hatred. And it absolutely began with that “old friend” being welcomed years, maybe even decades before the Holocaust, in so many houses of worship.
If we think we are beyond it again today, we are very wrong. If who you follow, listen to, or watch is someone who seems to hate any person, or groups of people, back
away. If anyone is making you hate other people, run away! It is none too difficult for us to stop being the people of God very quickly and start being the people of
someone else. And it begins by welcoming in that old goat and continuing to listen to him instead of to that still small voice.
We can have better company. We need better company. Let’s kick the rascal out.
Until next time,