Church on Christmas? Sorry, We're Closed
- Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Second, there is the issue of compromise. The commitment of the church is guided by the commitment of consumers rather than godly leaders. A certain mode of thinking exists in a great number of churches today that says we should give the people what they want rather than what they need. Addressing felt-needs is the watchword of our day. Of course, felt needs is simply another way of speaking of selfish desires.
Yet, we are told to survey the lost world and find out what they want in church and then provide it. Can anything be more completely contrary to the Scriptures? Lost people don't know what they need. We are to be that city set upon a hill shining forth the the light of the gospel that men might see their true need, come to Christ, and be saved.
Churches that fall into this mode of thinking are quite frankly man-centered as opposed to God-centered. The problem lies in the realty that such a commitment completely compromises the nature, mission, and work of the church. In the case before us and in a diversity of others, this mind-set leads to a bowing to secular culture rather than to the Lord of Glory.
David Wells, Professor of History and Systematic Theology at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary said, "This is a consumer mentality at work: Let's not impose the church on people. Let's not make church in any way inconvenient. I think what this does is feed into the individualism that is found throughout American culture, where everyone does their own thing." In Judges 17:6, the condemnation of God rests upon the development in Israel that everyone did that which was right in his own eyes. Such is the case in the Israel of God today.
Third, there is the issue of hypocrisy in light of the newly developing "Christmas Controversy." Fox News reports, "It is almost unheard of for a Christian church to cancel services on a Sunday, and opponents of the closures are accusing these congregations of bowing to secular culture." As am I. Further, "Critics within the evangelical community, more accustomed to doing battle with department stores and public schools over keeping religion in Christmas, are stunned by the shutdown."
While I think putting belligerent, public, organized economic pressure on department stores is misguided for a number of reasons, (not that I don't take a personal stance), with my fellow evangelical critics, I too am stunned by the shutdown. Schlueter noted, "It is interesting that evangelicals are angrily signing petitions and calling up Wal-Mart and Lowe's managers to demand that clerks say, 'Merry Christmas' instead of 'Happy Holidays,' but how many of them will find the doors of their own churches closed and the lights off on one of the high holy days of the Christian church year? Merry Christmas, indeed." Is not this development hypocrisy, or at the very least, spiritual schizophrenia?
Fourth, there is the issue of the message we send to a lost world. The world is watching this new trend and oddly enough, they are just as stunned as we are. Schlueter noted that the very fact that this trend is making headlines says the world has taken notice.
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