Of people who join church today, go away tomorrow
HAVE you ever wondered why people come to your church today, full of purpose and spiritual hunger and thirst, but leave tomorrow, depressed and disillusioned, some even angry. Does it happen too in your church? If it does not happen, ignore this insightful observation. If it happens, read carefully and pray that you understand what it means and not what you want to understand.
Why do people come to your church today and leave tomorrow?
This can be a fascinating PhD thesis. Allow me to share an insight with you into the question.
The first reason, but perhaps also the most obvious, is the devil himself. Satan hates any soul that chooses to turn towards God. Remember the great controversy, or the war to win souls between God and Satan. It is not yet over. The war rages on and the battle-field are the hearts and minds of mankind. Whenever you visit the house of God, especially for the first time, Satan finds a way of pulling you away in the quickest possible way. The ways are different. God uses the truth. The devil uses naked lies and half truths (equivocation) and sheer blindfolding (demonic influence).
You may recall a WhatsApp video that went viral around the world a few months ago. A pretty Ndau girl called it a bed-time story. She was in subterranean Ndau warning Christians not to drive away new souls that want to become Christians.
What made this video go viral is certainly not the message the pretty young girl was conveying. It must have been the facial glamour of the little girl or the fecundity of the Ndau language coming out of that mouth fit to ooze no other language but the queen’s. I hope I am wrong to think that was the reason the little girl attracted the whole world, especially Zimbabweans; the beautiful and typical Ndau. But what message was in the video?
The young Ndau girl was profound in her message. Her warning was as multi-layered as her language. Do not begin your idle gossip with the 100 commandments of your church. ‘We do not dress like this here. We do not sing like this.
We do not like this kind of music. We do not eat this or that. We do not. . . we do not. . .we do not,’ ad infinitum; a hundred and one rules and regulations. ‘Our pastor is like so and so, you see those women and that group of men over there. . .be very careful,’ the story continues. Until the new member begins to say! ‘Oh dear! I thought this church was the way to heaven! It is the way to hell.’
That is the second major put-off! People who never stop talking and seem to know everything about everything at the church and about everybody! Please note, this way is inseparably connected to the first one; Lucifer’s shenanigans. The devil uses this method very easily to turn new members away.
Third, are cheap contradictions! People who speak this and do the opposite! People who indicate turning right and then turn left. May be one or two examples will illustrate the point more clearly.
Preaching love but practising hatred, loathsomeness, resentfulness. . . showing off and seeking attention! People preaching we-are-all sinners but acting holier-than-though.
People preaching against the Pharisee behaviour of sticking to rules but being priggish and blind to spiritual common sense!
Everything said and done, we must not forget that some members too have very sublime reasons for joining church. They think everyone will love them and tolerate them and wish them well. They come to please or be pleased by man and not God.
Easier said than done! It then becomes very difficult focusing on God in the midst of noisy, confused, Pharisee-like, cantankerous ‘Christians’. These too must remember that a church is like a clinic where all people, well, almost all, you find there are sick from different infirmities; gossip-mongering, minding other people’s business and not one’s own, religious arrogance, self exaltation, judging others, evil thought processes, jealousy, envy, the list of illnesses is too long. They too are seeking divine ‘healing’ from these stubborn religious stains or sins.
I talked about self-contradiction earlier on. Some speakers, preachers if you like, at church ooze verve, energy and knowledge about certain ideas and beliefs. They read them and run with them like saints or angels, yet miss the spirit-connection; the link between the known and the unknown.
I will take the examples of eating well and exercising and sharing health-science knowledge about various diseases, especially chronic ones like the notorious cancers, HIV and AIDS etc. There is no doubt this is a perfect idea in church. And some churches are better at this than others. Why not? A problem arises, when the spirit connection is conspicuously lacking and only the health science remains.
If invited experts concentrate on what they know and what they can do and not do, ignoring deliberately, by default or unwittingly the trust and faith in a God who reverses irreversible conditions and heals incurable diseases; a God to whom nothing is impossible, the message becomes simply that there are certain human challenges and problems God is not strong enough to deal with.
Good speakers, too many of them, miss the bracket that balances the knowledge and faith equation.
The message of knowing about incurable cancers and diabetes and Hypertensions, the list is long and familiar, especially how we can be wise or clever to avoid these ‘infirmities’ openly and imprudently contradicts the message of faith in Jesus and often does the opposite, namely driving away the message of hope in sick people.