Is it just me, or does it seem like our churches are dying? What has happened to leave so many empty seats in the house of the Lord? Why is it that churches with a record attendance of 3,000 are now struggling to reach an attendance of 300? I'll give you a good idea of what I think has happened, and believe it or not, it can be found by taking a good look at King Ahab (you know, the wicked, wicked king of Israel).
And Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the Lord besides, that we might enquire of him? And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, There is yet one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may enquire of the Lord: but I hate him; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil. And Jehoshaphat said, Let not the king say so. - I Kings 22:7-8
In the above passage, Syria was ready to war against Israel, so Ahab sought an alliance with Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah. Jehoshaphat was willing to help, but he wanted to make sure the Lord was with them and approved of their actions, so he asked Ahab to have the prophets enquire of the Lord. Well, Ahab did just that, only the prophets that were seeking God's will were not God's prophets. Knowing Ahab's ways, they were more than likely prophets of Baal. Nevertheless, they gave Ahab the green light from "the Lord," but Jehoshaphat wasn't convinced.
"Don't you have a real prophet of God that we can ask?" the king of Judah queried. I would love to have seen Ahab's face at this question. No doubt, his smile faded, but I must admit that his verbal response brings a smile to my face every time. "Well, there is this one guy, but I hate him because he never tells me what I want to hear!" Oh my goodness! What a baby! Once again, Ahab opened his mouth and displayed his immaturity. Unfortunately, Christians do the same thing all the time, and that, my friend is what's wrong with our churches.
"Well, I used to go to that church, but the preacher made it sound like I was some big sinner because I like to smoke, so I just don't go there anymore."
"Yeah, I used to attend that church, but the preacher said something that really hurt my feelings, so we joined somewhere else."
"Sure, I'd go to church if the preacher didn't preach so much against sin. I mean, good grief, can't he find something else to harp about?"
These statements may sound like exaggerations, but I promise you they are not. I've heard them (and many more) with my own ears. Now, I understand that God will sometimes move people to another church. That's fine. I also understand that sometimes the preacher will stray from preaching the Word of God and will begin preaching his own convictions and pet peeves. In such cases, I urge you to find another church. But, more often than not, the problem is not with the church or the preacher, it's with the immature Christian who, like Ahab, says, "Well, there's this one pastor, but I hate him because he never tells me what I want to hear." Hmm!
May I be very blunt for just a moment? If the preacher is preaching the Word of God, and you're upset because it's not what you want to hear, where do you think the problem is? After all, if the man of God is preaching the Word of God, and you don't like it, that means that you're upset with what God is saying. If that's grounds for leaving and joining another church, guess what--You're either going to have to join a church where the preacher is NOT preaching the Word of God, or you're just going to get mad and leave that church too. Right?
Christians, it's time for us to grow up! If we don't like what God has to say, it is not God or the Bible or our church membership that needs to change. It's us! We need to change. We need to grow up. We need to stop worrying about our feelings and start thinking about what we can do to become better servants for Christ.
Yes, sometimes the truth hurts, but the truth will always set us free! Keep that in mind the next time the preacher steps on your toes.