Have You Heard The Latest?

   by Rayola Kelley       

        Occasionally, I have to shake my head at the insanity that is happening in the name of Jesus. I often wonder if He was here physically, what He would say about what is happening, or what the firebrand Apostle Paul would say. Would they lament at the harsh reality that the Christianity that was clearly established 20 centuries ago may be hard to find in what I refer to as the visible church?

       The other day Krista shared about the latest movement that is gaining momentum. She usually begins from the premise of, “Have you heard the latest?” The latest is about the recent movement towards getting men to church. They are now opening basketball courts up for men so they can have their 15-minute religious experience, then go home and enjoy the rest of the day doing their preferred activities.

       If you are not aware of this movement, you might ask why the “so-called” church is not good enough for these men. According to those promoting this movement, the problem rests with the makeup or function of the church. Apparently it has become too feminine for men; therefore, men are not attracted to or inspired to go to church. They would rather stay home and watch their favorite sports or be about some other activity.

       A couple of years ago I was aware the beginning rumble of this movement when there was a push to decorate the churches in such a way that men would feel more comfortable in them, thereby attracting them to church. Such a notion seemed quite silly to me. My first recollection of churches was wooden pews. To me the greatest advancement in “decorations” was the cushioned pews. It is not that I minded that those hard benches kept you awake; but that they seemed to get harder the longer you sat in them. Granted, with the enormous sums of money being spent on decorating churches, I could agree with changing the emphasis of decoration, but not to attract men to church, but to bring it back to simplicity where the Gospel is not in competition with the elaborate furnishings or stage shows that are taking place in many churches.

       In fact, when you consider the tabernacle of the Old Testament, it was quite unattractive to the physical eye. The beauty of the tabernacle rested inside the inner chambers. This was to remind man that beauty must exist within. Such beauty could only exist if God in His holiness and presence was abiding there. Psalm 96:6 & 9 put it best: “Honor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary…Oh, worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness; fear before him, all the earth.”

       To be honest with you, I had a hard time figuring out how decorating for men would really translate. How do you change the inward environment of a church to make men feel comfortable? Do you take out anything that represents beauty? Well, we know that the Lord is beautiful. However, men are into strength, but how do you communicate strength in light of God’s kingdom? We know the Lord is our strength, and they that wait upon him will have their strength renewed. If God is missing there is no real strength. Obviously, the real point of attraction in any congregation should be whether the Lord is present.

       Let us just say for a minute that the furnishings would really make a difference. Again, what would attract men to give up their fleshly preference and come to church? Perhaps, we can make the inside of the church look like a cave, or maybe replace the popular chairs used in many churches with some couches and TV sets. Maybe, we should move the whole church outdoors so people can be closer to “mother earth.” Of course, the individuals behind this movement have answered my question. You open up the basketball courts to men. You only ask for their undivided attention for 15-minutes, then all will be well in heaven and on earth as they go back to their fleshly, worldly ways. Obviously, salvation is not the issue, but giving the appearance that men can now fit some sort of “spiritual experience” into their worldly lifestyle without being required to make any commitment of confession towards the God of the Universe is acceptable.

       Even though I have been aware for awhile that the accusation that the “church” was becoming too feminized was gaining some momentum, I have watched abuses and heresy being established to counteract such an influence. For example, the heresy of the “Jezebel Spirit” was introduced to quiet any woman who may have discernment, opinions or purposes outside of what is comfortable or acceptable to those in leadership, regardless of whether it was according to spirit and truth. The reality of all these attempts prove to be total foolishness. After all, most church leaderships are made up of men, not women. Even though more women may attend churches, and take an active role in ensuring that it functions, men still are in charge in most cases. To me, I would think that the leadership of these churches would be offended by such ridiculous accusations. My question is not whether this movement is legitimate, because scripturally it is unfounded, but where are the men to stand up and set the record straight?

        No doubt there are godly men shaking their heads at this insanity, and trying to bring proper instruction to those around them, but the truth is this movement is both fleshly and worldly. It has nothing to do with salvation, but with taking issue with a matter that does not address the core of a problem, and making it into a cause. After all, it is easy for people to get caught up with causes, rather than caught up with Jesus Christ.

       Let us now consider why this movement is unscriptural, and why people should not only flee it, but also stand against it. The first aspect of this issue that we need to remind ourselves about is what constitutes the true Church that Jesus died for? The true Church is not a building decorated to attract either sex; it is a body of believers who recognize that Christ died on the cross for their sins. These members have believed in their hearts that Christ was raised from the grave, and have acknowledged that He is Lord.

       This brings us to the real leader of the Church. It is a man named Jesus Christ. He is the head of the Body. Each member is fit into that Body according to the plan of the Father and in line with the working of the Spirit to bring forth the life of the Son in and through this Body. The Church is clearly a living organism that is universal and cannot be contained within any walls no matter how big the arena.

       When you consider the Church in light of Christ, it happens to be considered His bride, which puts a feminine twist on it. But, in light of what Scripture states, there is no distinction between male or female in His kingdom. Since each believer makes up His Body, his or her place in His Body is equally important to the total function of the whole Body.

       The next issue is the point of attraction. The Bible is clear about the real point of attraction. It has nothing to do with the decor, comfortability or gender. This attraction is not from this world or of this world. It is the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. He stated that if He is lifted up, He will draw men to Himself. If churches lack the drawing power of heaven, it means that Jesus is not being lifted up as the center of all hope, purpose and life. In fact, we know no man can come to Jesus unless the Father is drawing and the Spirit is convicting.

       If you consider this movement, you will conclude that it is trying to use the things of the world to attract fleshly, earthbound people to spiritual truths of life and death. It will never happen. It takes the actual intervention of heaven to stir up dead men and women who are comfortable in their doomed state of sin to even consider their need for salvation and change. Therefore, if these individuals’ goal is to see men saved, they are using the wrong point of attraction to do it. Paul put it best when he stated that he did not want to know anything among believers but Christ and Him crucified. After all, if God is not honoring a matter, it does not matter the method or the means, men or women will remain dead in their sins. And, if Jesus is missing as the focal point, God will have no means to honor any attempts of man, regardless of how popular it may be with the masses.

       However, I do not think the goals of these individuals are to see men saved; rather, they are to get men into some kind of religious atmosphere. I am not sure how much of this movement comes down to riding a dead horse to prove a point. Of course, the point being that the Church is “too feminine” for men to even consider spiritual matters. If this is true, it is nothing more than a feeble excuse and attempt to make all of womanhood a scapegoat.

       This brings me to the issue of spiritual matters. Spiritual truths do not have any sexual preference attached to them. The real core of the problem is not a matter of the Church being too feminine or not masculine enough. The problem rests with sin. Sin whether it is hiding behind “so-called” noble excuses, or simply giving an appearance of some type of religious initiative will always oppose giving up its fleshly ways and worldly preferences. It will make the heart hard towards truth, and make spiritual ears dull to His Word and ways.

       The truth about God and sin is a responsibility that requires people to individually make a decision about what they are going to do about their spiritual state and destination. It is easy to play some kind of blame game as to why a certain group of people may lack any spiritual inclination towards the matters of God. In fact, the blame game has been going on ever since Adam blamed both God and Eve for his failure to do what was right. Such blame is used to alleviate the person from ever taking responsibility for his or her own personal life and welfare. As a result, he or she can hide his or her irresponsibility behind foolish excuses, while living according to the personal preferences of sinful flesh.

       It is time we strip away all the nonsense and expose the real culprit behind why people are not inclined to come to church, both men and women. We have already discussed one reason; they are not being spiritually drawn. The reasons for this could vary such as the workings of sin upon the flesh, but if the problem does rest with the Church, the biggest reason is that Jesus is really not being lifted up. If Jesus is not lifted up then the lost soul seeking resolution will be left in despair, and the sheep will scatter to look for the true pastures of God. Sadly, it appears as if this is what has happened to many of Jesus’ sheep. However, such sheep will eventually find the pasture that is of God.

       The second main reason for complacency towards God rests with people. It comes down to the fact that they do not love Him with all their heart. They prefer the ways of the idolatrous flesh or the world. If a person truly loves God, nothing will keep him or her from the place where He is lifted up and His presence is there for the purpose of communion. I have met many godly men. There is not one of them that ever said to me they came to church because of how it was decorated or that it seemed masculine enough to them. These blood-brought saints came to church because they were compelled by the love of God to do so. It is that simple!

       The individuals who are behind this ridiculous movement are blaming man’s lack of response to God because the Church is supposedly “too feminine.” However, the real issue is that man is so fleshly and worldly that he sees no need for God in his life. He is comfortable on his couch, playing with his toys or doing what pleases him. However, to try to accommodate man in his present situation does not challenge him to realize that his present state is what he needs to be saved from. Jesus did not come to save us in our sin, rather He came to save us from our sin.

       Since this movement is another cause, it will no doubt quickly burn out like so many other movements in the past. But, what is sad is that each movement leaves a bigger vacancy in the spiritual arena. In a way it is like leaving a big black hole that may have sucked people into its cause, but will leave them more lifeless than before. Such holes are replaced with more unbelief, disillusionment and skepticism towards those things that are truly associated with God and His kingdom.

       There is no easy answer or solution to the affects these various movements leave upon the Church. Each cause is simply playing on the weakness that is found in the spiritual environment of the Church. The real key to such weaknesses will never be found in movements, but in lifting up Jesus as the One who will fill every need, answer every sincere heart desire, and become the all in all that will fill empty lives with a greater revelation of His life, love and salvation.