Saturday, April 13, 2013

Selling God

A couple days ago I drove past a local church. It is a fairly large Assembly of God church. On the sign outside were the words 'Healing Service.' Now, I've seen hundreds of these signs over the years. Sometimes the type of service changes. It may read 'Deliverance Service,' or 'Revival Service,' or any number of other kinds of service. I have attended these services in the past. Shoot, I've been part of the administration of them as a worship leader! So, why was I offended when I saw this particular sign? After all, aren't we supposed to encourage everyone to come to the 'house of the Lord'?
I think that part of my reticence has to do with the apparent arrogance of the sign. It implies that only at such and such a time, God will have office hours. If you come to our church during this time you may experience some kind of super-natural intervention that may alleviate your present, less than satisfactory condition.
This opens an incredibly large can of night crawlers. (If your intent is to go fishing, maybe this is ok.)
First, there is the overt arrogance of a small group of people, (re. white males), who have an inside track to understanding the movement of the Holy Spirit. They think that if they can schedule a spiritual event, then Ruach Elohim, the Breath of God, is compelled to show up and do their bidding. As I read the scriptures I see the Spirit hovering over the deep, coming and going like the wind, doing anything other than what is predictable. So, to think that this Spirit can be harnessed into our understanding of time and space is wrong-headed at the very least.
Another thing that stands out is the advertisement of the event. To place a sign outside of a building implies that this particular place is the only place where God will be on whatever particular evening. I don't want to be crass, but the only words that come to mind right now are "bullshit." (Sorry to offend folks who are sensitive to language.) God is God. God does what God wants to do when God wants to do it. We CANNOT be so arrogant as to say that God will be available at whatever time and place we deem proper and in line with our human agenda.
But, the most offensive thing in all of this is that God is commodified. God is marketed on signs outside of churches like a pot-blessing dinner. (How I hate that Christianese term!) God is revealed to people in a way that shows humans as the ultimate arbiters and administrators of Spiritual truth. I don't see God in a box as I read the Scriptures. Perhaps, we should be taking a more human like approach realize that God is God and we are not. No one can control what and where the Spirit moves. Absolutely not on a sign outside of a building.

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