I saw a cartoon last week, which showed Jesus standing outside of a church. He was positioned at the door with his hand pushing against it, preparing to enter the church building. Meanwhile, inside the church, just on the other side, the members of the congregation were gathered, holding the door firmly shut, preventing Jesus from entering. The caption indicates the people inside the church saying, “Don’t let Him (Jesus) in; it will change everything.”
Reflecting on this cartoon, I’ve pondered, “Why would church members not want Jesus in their church? Is it true that there are things that we don’t want Jesus to change? Are there things that we would rather have in the church than Jesus? Can a church value some ideals and practices to such a degree that the people would prefer to cling to those things over Jesus?” Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Consider these five things that churches are prone to treasure above Jesus:
1. Traditions – If inviting Jesus into their midst would mean changing the way they’ve always done things, some churches would rather keep Him locked out. Maybe a shift in its musical approach or switching the time of service might potentially reach more people for Christ, but many would rather keep things the way they’ve always been than allow Jesus to prompt a change.
2. Comfort – Do you secretly hope that you don’t get any visitors at your church because it makes you feel uncomfortable to talk to strangers? Perhaps you don’t want Jesus to ask you to do anything outside of your comfort zone. We have to be careful that we do not value comfort above what Jesus wants for the church.
3. Cleanliness – There’s the old axiom that says, “Cleanliness is next to Godliness.” However, that statement is nowhere found in the Bible, not that there’s anything wrong with cleanliness. We can, though, make the mistake and worship cleanliness. For example, do you wish “all those kids” wouldn’t come to your church because….well, they make messes and tear things up? And what about those rowdy teenagers? Yet, doesn’t Jesus love them, too, and didn’t He come to save them as well?
4. Preferences – We all have our preferences in the way things are done in the church and there is nothing wrong with that. The kinds of songs you like to sing, the way the church is decorated, and the length of Sunday school classes are all matters of preference. It’s all good until we place our own desires above the Lord’s. When what I want means more to me than what God wants, that’s when I need to check my priorities.
5. Lukewarmness – God doesn’t want us to be lukewarm (see Revelation 3:15, 16). We may secretly not want Jesus to enter our church because He calls for full-hearted commitment, generous giving, sacrificial service, and self-denial.
You see, when Jesus is truly present, He shakes things up! Will you make Him the center of your life and your church regardless of what He asks of you?