Our problem is IDOLATRY
On this blog, I am constantly calling the Church (and the Christians of this “Christian” town) to account for neglecting the homeless in our community. Oh sure, we have a number of important services being provided – mostly by 501c3 charitable organizations rather than the Church – which I am thankful for, and which I commend. But I go continually shocked that such a powerful (and popular) passage of Scripture as Matthew 25:31-46 goes so regularly neglected – ESPECIALLY in light of the fact that it is one of the few passages where Jesus actually outlines JUDGEMENT!
So, I am a critic. A critic from within, specifically. But as I engage the issue (and as I find it engaged in books, blogs, and news media), I keep finding the issue addressed as a matter of charitable efforts and methods (which certainly is involved!), but which is not actually the heart of the matter. And in particular, I have found books, most notably When Helping Hurts, and blogs and charitable organization leaders and churches second-guessing their efforts and methods as they seek to address the problem.
But I say that is not where the problem actually is. And if you have a particularly discerning eye while reading this blog, you will note that I deal in Image-Bearing Theology specifically, and that has everything to do with WORSHIP. However, I rarely package the discussion in such a succinct statement. So, let me do that now: Our problem is idolatry. But of course, like the alcoholics proverbial Elephant-in-the-Room, it is going a little too conveniently unnoticed (actually ignored). Our idolatry is buried so deep in denial, that we don’t even acknowledge it, thus the denial is very passive.
Idolatry is about false worship of false gods
As our first weekend in November gets underway here in Lubbock, we are experiencing our second taste of Fall weather. The Coronado Project is in the news as it seems this ministry is in collapse under the weight of foreclosure, and this threatens to turn people out into the streets just in time for winter. And while we can easily (and to some degree rightly) criticize the efforts and methods of ministry that have led to that collapse with an eye for improving upon them for the future, I would have you notice that we have a football game making the other headlines, and that is generating the real excitement this “Christian” town is experiencing rather than worship of Jesus!
And do you think that is not worship? Oh, really? What do you think pagan worship looks like? Do the pagans paint their faces, organize their colors, party with sex, drugs, and booze deep into the night? Do they dance, wiggle, and yell and scream with passion and excitement? Do they praise their heroes in song, dance, and speeches? Do they party with victory and fast with defeat?
All that sounds like either a worship service or a football game to me. But here’s the kicker: This football game/worship service will draw together almost 100% of the Baptists, Methodists, Catholics, Pentecostals, along with the gay church, the trucker church, the biker church and the cowboy church in it’s worship celebration! And it will draw all of them together with the Atheists, Agnostics, neo-pagans, and Buddhists too! But come Sunday morning, the “Christians” who aren’t too hungover or in jail after the festivities will all split up and go to their little enclaves of worship for a much smaller, more subdued worship service in honor of Jesus.
Which worship service do you think really has the hearts and minds of the community?
Meanwhile, that Matthew-25 Jesus languishes in the back lots, alleys, city parks, and under the “No Trespassing” signs of this town uncelebrated. Meanwhile the alcove entryway of the huge First United Methodist church building (the one facing the alley) will play host to the Matthew-25 Jesus just outside its locked up doors! And there is Judgment looming up behind that Matthew-25 Jesus who goes neglected, uncelebrated, unworth-shipped, and buried under the denial of our idolatries.
Keep in mind, this same Jesus stands at our door and knocks, and he says, “Behold! I stand at your door and knock. If you open up, I will come in and eat with you!” (Rev. 3:20).
Now, if you open that door and let him in to eat with you, that will be TRUE WORSHIP of THE TRUE GOD.
And I just think, Lubbock, you oughta know.