Thursday, September 30, 2010

To Laugh or to Cry, That is the Question

I often meet people who were a part of or grew up in a similar church atmosphere as I did. It is good to speak with those few who are familiar with many things that so many just aren't. The type of church I was reared in was of the fundamentalist brand, the fundamentals not being certain truths revealed in Scripture like the ones J. Gresham Machen stood for in the liberalism controversy of the 1920s and 1930s, but basically certain standards of conduct. I meet people quite often who have been in these circles. However, our brand of fundamentalism was a little different. In fact, most of those I meet are not so familiar with some of those things I grew up around. I grew up a Baptist, but I'm sure we looked Pentecostal to most. It wasn't all that uncommon to see people running the aisles, waving the Christian flag, screaming and shouting at the top of their lungs, or dancing in the church. It was embarrassing to watch confused visitors gather their belongings and leave when it "broke out" in the church or just sit there and endure the awkward moment . These services usually contained no preaching, so folks weren't leaving because of the offense of the cross, they undoubtedly thought we were crazy.  A friend of mine, who happens to be a former prison guard, sat on edge through an entire worship service when a lady behind him let out a bloodcurdling scream in "praise" to the Lord.

I do have to say that the video below beats everything I have ever seen. A friend (who has also been a part of this atmosphere) sent this clip to me and at first it brought back many memories. I honestly wondered if I knew some of the people or was familiar with this particular church. But about half way through the video, I asked the same question you will ask. Did he just...? The answer is yes, yes he did. My first reaction was to laugh. I mean, never in the long history of nonsense have I seen such chaos in a place where things are supposed to be done decently and in order. Now that I have had time to reflect, I think tears may be the proper response. Oh, I almost laughed to the point of crying, but tears of sorrow may be more appropriate. 

I can't find any relation in the clip above to what we are to understand regarding the nature of worship from the following passage of Scripture. 

18 For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest 19 and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. 20 For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” 21 Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” 22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
25 See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27 This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29 for our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:18-29)