“Jesus wandered over to the big church on the corner and it blew His mind (in a bad way)! He grabbed a big bat and started in, stopping first at the parking ministry booth and told them they best skee-daddle. The visitors booth, DVD sales and mega-screen operators fared no better, as Jesus cleaned house. Shaking with anger he cried, “What have you done? This looks more like a convention than a house of prayer and equality!”
– John 2:13-17 (Karl Wheeler Version for Today)
Just because something is done in Jesus’ name does not mean it is done with His permission or blessing.
I have heard that 90% of all money given in America in Jesus’ name goes to pay for buildings and salaries. At this moment, in every major U.S. city, multimillion-dollar new church and church-expansion building campaigns are under way. They will all succeed in raising the money.
The above “Karl Wheeler” version of John 2 comes from a recurring daydream of mine in which I go with Jesus to various venues. In the first, we go to the local, suburban mega-church…
“As we sit in the dark, I thought I sensed His confusion, the feeling of being overwhelmed.”
The countdown screen precisely predicted the start of the high-energy first song as the spotlight strikes a young man bouncing and singing the opening song. The second song includes an invitation to stand, followed by some announcements and updates on the church’s various capital campaigns. They only seem to add to His bewilderment. The poignant video clip from the movie Braveheart is followed by a message filled with certainty and propositions that more faith and effort will result in a new happiness. The message nicely ends with an appeal to ask Him back into our lives.
Like a romantic comedy I know what each scene will bring, but He obviously had no clue. The service concludes with a final admonition to try harder and be quick in our exit so the next set of attendees can experience an identical service.
When we leave the service I ask him what he thinks about the service. He asks me a few questions: “How often does something like this happen? Why did only a few people say anything? Everyone seemed to be smiling, are most people really that happy? Where are my friends who are poor? How could they say I led them to build the new building, when I distinctly remember telling them ‘No! I don’t like investing in real estate?’”
I wake up after His parting words: “The only part I really liked was when they sent that basket of money around so people could take what they needed. I did that a couple of times.“
I feel such a mix of emotion. I am angry, sad and disillusioned that the church I believe Jesus wanted is not the church we have today.
But at the same time I am hopeful, because I think we can do something to change all that.
In future posts, I hope I can flesh out what I feel and what others might feel or at least suspect about the church and the ways we can live more faithfully to Jesus’ message and call. Plus, I think this might be fun…