On the church front this has been an interesting week. Unfortunately the events of this week fuel my cynicism more than my hope.
The first event happened last Sunday when the Pastor of the church I attend suddenly announced his resignation. The fact that he resigned is not what bothers me. What bothers me is two fold. First the reason he gave for resigning was that he had sinned. Now I know preachers do sadly fall into sin now and then, but he did not ever say what the sin was. The fact that he has left that question completely open opens the door to much speculation and I am sure that the rumor mill will grind big time. That is sad. I wish he would have given more details as truth always drowns out gossip. The second thing that bothers me is the emotional downpour during the service. The pastor cried, by cried I don't mean shed a few tears, I mean sobbed, throughout his message. This was followed by 80 to 90% of the people at the service sobbing and crying over it all. In my life I have learned to be very wary whenever any event gets sicky, sobby, emotional. Now don't get me wrong, I have no problem with emotions or crying. I have problems when the emotions are obviously overriding all else that occurs. Time will tell, but I have a sick feeling that things at my church home are going to go downhill fast. Please pray for the church and our former pastor.
This week I received the newsletter of my denominations local association. Reading the newsletter highlighted one of my biggest pet peeves in the Christian world today, the selling of the gospel. I strongly believe that the gospel of Jesus Christ is free to all people. Free both on a spiritual level and also free on a temporal, especially financial level. Within the newsletter were announcements of two events that to all appearances seem to be "selling" the glorious gospel. One has registration fees of from $60 to $115 and features such topics as "how to study the Bible". I don't know about you but 30 years ago when I came to faith in Christ the pastor taught how to study the Bible from the pulpit twice on Sunday and again on Wednesday. The church never charged a fee for teaching the Word of God. Another event is about evangelism. The fees for this event range from $20 to $70.
I can't help but wonder whatever happened to the Church of Jesus Christ choosing to go out into the world and preach the Gospel? When did the Church become a just another conference center with a product to sell? When did the Church become a lifestyle choice instead of a group of people who have been forgiven and set free through the shed blood of Jesus? When did the gospel become a product to promote and sell, instead of good news about salvation from sin and redemption into a new life?
Maybe I'm an old foggy and out of touch, well so be it, the scriptures that have not and will not change declare that Jesus is "the same yesterday, today, and forever." Jesus freely gave himself on the cross at Calvary, I shall continue to freely give that gospel to anyone who wishes to listen.
Well for what it's worth that's my rant.