God seems so distant these days…

Posted: July 23, 2009 in Bible, Christian, church, faith, Religion, Thoughts, wisdom

When I was a little girl, I loved to go to church. I felt safe there. Everything seemed better at church. Food tasted better, colors were brighter, music came alive and the world made sense. When I played the piano at church, it seemed I could hit any key and it would be beautiful. When I sang, my 10 year old voice soared over the congregation and harmonized with the reverberations coming back to me. Later as a preteen and teen, church was my sanctuary. I wanted to be in God’s house every time the doors were open. Fortunately I had godly friends who could drive and didn’t mind picking up the scrawny little girl with horn-rimmed glasses three times a week.

Then my sophomore year in college, the pastor of my parent’s church raped someone very close to me. I didn’t find church to be so appealing after that. It lost its luster you could say. Apparently he had committed the same evil at his previous church, but they remained silent on the subject. Quite embarrassing and who wants that kind of liability? It took some time for me to wrap my mind around the appalling injustice committed in the name of God. The holy refuge I retreated to when I was lost now held dark and dangerous secrets. I still longed to be close to my heavenly Father, He just seemed so far away.

In First Samuel we are introduced to a particular priest and his evil sons. Eli and his sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were charged with ministering to God in His temple and to His people. They served as God’s representative to His chosen people. What a great responsibility, what a great privilege! One would think that one would desire to live in a manner worthy of such a holy calling. One would think…

1 Samuel 2:12-17 (NASB95)
12 Now the sons of Eli were worthless men; they did not know the Lord
13 and the custom of the priests with the people. When any man was offering a sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come while the meat was boiling, with a three-pronged fork in his hand.
14 Then he would thrust it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; all that the fork brought up the priest would take for himself. Thus they did in Shiloh to all the Israelites who came there.
15 Also, before they burned the fat, the priest’s servant would come and say to the man who was sacrificing, “Give the priest meat for roasting, as he will not take boiled meat from you, only raw.”
16 If the man said to him, “They must surely burn the fat first, and then take as much as you desire,” then he would say, “No, but you shall give it to me now; and if not, I will take it by force.”
17 Thus the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord, for the men despised the offering of the Lord.

Hophni and Phinehas not only despised the offering of the Lord, they despised the Lord and Eli did not rebuke them. I have become increasingly disgusted with the selfish and self serving ministry of some pastors and I for one refuse to remain silent like Eli.

Pastors telling God’s people that they need to mail them a check to “sow a seed of faith.”

Pastors committing vile sins and then manipulating their congregations to reinstate them to their former positions of authority.

Pastors who never prepare themselves to teach and minister the truth and starve their flock with spiritual milk.

Pastors so enamored with their “vision” that they deny the gospel.

Pastors who stand before a congregation week after week and refuse to tell people how to find forgiveness because “we don’t do that here.”

Pastors who prey on the wounded and the suffering and lure people away from the path of salvation with provocative lies.

As disgusted as I am with the deception of some evil leaders in the church, I am humbled by the warning to believers found in God’s dealings with Eli and his house.

1 Samuel 3:13-14 (NASB95)
13 “For I have told him that I am about to judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knew, because his sons brought a curse on themselves and he did not rebuke them.
14 “Therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever.”

Eli was held responsible for not disciplining his house and he and his house were judged harshly for their disdain toward God’s precepts. How long will churches in America refuse to hold our leaders accountable to the truth? How long will we allow teachers to inaccurately handle the word of God? Where are the true prophets to boldly rebuke the iniquity of the false priests? Do we fear man over God so much that we have become paralyzed with apathy?

The American church is no longer viewed as a refuge for the lost and a beacon of truth. The church has absorbed the values of our culture, denying absolute truth and criminalizing those who refuse to compromise the integrity of God’s word. However, I am confident that the bright light of immutable truth will overcome the shroud of darkness that plagues us today. When God’s people behave in a manner worthy of the Name they bear, then God will not seem so distant.

One glorious day all that hides in the darkness will be revealed and holy justice will reign. Those who fear that day have reason to tremble, but the children of Righteousness can rejoice! The Gathering will be cleansed of all deception and God will inhabit the praises of His people forevermore.

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Comments
  1. Vince says:

    Nance:

    Timely post! I heard this a few days ago

    “The early church was commanded to stop sharing the Gospel but todays church needs to be commanded to share the Gospel”

    The early church shared the Gospel so much they were told to stop… while today it seems to be such a low priority that Christians must be exhorted to share. It seems that saving souls for eternity has taken a back seat to temporal worldly needs and pleasures.

    Can it be that the very comforts our society provides have made Christians (including Pastors) so comfortable that maintaining these things has become the priority? Can it be that the enemy has deceived many into believing that the good things of this world are most important?

    What comes to mind when posing these questions is the story of the frog placed in the pot of water(worldly comfort) and the heat turned up slowly until it’s too late.

    Is it time for the church to experience real persecution to wake them up?

    I am not wishing for this but it is preferable to eternal separation from God.

    While this state of affairs is frustrating we must take comfort that this type of falling away will occur just before Jesus returns and is part of God’s plan.

    2 Tim 3:1-9 (NLTSE)

    1 You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. 2 For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. 3 They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. 4 They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. 5 They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!
    6 They are the kind who work their way into people’s homes and win the confidence of[a] vulnerable women who are burdened with the guilt of sin and controlled by various desires. 7 (Such women are forever following new teachings, but they are never able to understand the truth.) 8 These teachers oppose the truth just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses. They have depraved minds and a counterfeit faith. 9 But they won’t get away with this for long. Someday everyone will recognize what fools they are, just as with Jannes and Jambres.

    In the meantime staying focused on being a successful Christian is paramount for all believers. A successful Christian is one that lives the Christian life daily, shares the Gospel and trusts God for the results.

  2. Nance says:

    Thanks for stopping by, Vince! Trusting God for a beautiful end of the story. “Come Lord Jesus, Come!”

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