Sunday after Sunday. Maybe throw in a Wednesday night.
Week after week.
We get all dressed up, pile in the car and go to church. We greet our friends, then sit as the service begins. The music starts. It may be an organ in some churches. Maybe a piano in others. Many have full bands or, “praise teams”. But, the music starts, nonetheless. Then, we rise to sing a few hymns, choruses or other Christian songs. Then, we sit back down.
We are greeted by the senior pastor, one of the other pastors or another leader in our tidy congregation. Maybe, we are then encouraged to, “Greet one another”. Announcements are made.
“This meeting, blah, blah blah…that meeting, blah, blah, blah. Don’t forget to pray for brother Maynard, as he is not feeling well this morning, blah, blah, blah. Please, silence your cell phones, blah, blah, blah.”
Then, we rise and sing some more. Some of us are really feeling God’s presence by now, right? Time to sit back down. Sister Verbose is coming up to the front to “receive our tithes and offerings”. She gives a few verses and some encouraging words. The plates are being passed. We hear a nice offertory song. Oooh…did you just feel that blessing?
Then…there he is. Maybe he is wearing a nice suit. Maybe a robe. Maybe, if you are not all that uptight about your religion, he is wearing jeans and a casual shirt. But, he is the man you will listen to for the next 30 to 45 minutes as he “preaches”. Now, this has got to give you some goosebumps.
He concludes his sermon. Weren’t you simply inspired? You sure nodded your head enough. Oh, and you even took notes. That’s good. I got some notes, too. Now, let’s stand and sing some more. Next, the pastor or someone else gives some closing remarks and we are dismissed. We converse with a few friends on our way out. We get into our car and drive home.
What was accomplished? Sure, we got a good teaching and some of us will weigh what we heard and consider what the Lord had to say. Some of us may even be inspired to act or change. But, most of us will have gone no further than sitting, listening and nodding our heads. I heard some guy, many years ago, say, “We too often confuse the nodding of the head with the doing of the hands.”
In too many churches, the gathering is about making sure that you sit and listen as a man tells you what you should believe and how you should live. There is little to no true fellowship. Well, you could go to a small group and get some fellowship there and be able to interact with the teaching…which is a bit closer to how the first century church conducted gatherings. But, even those mid-week small groups or Bible studies are really another Sunday service put in a cozier form. It just seems that the goal is to get everyone to walk the same, talk the same, behave the same and be sure that their only meetings are with those of their tidy little group or congregation.
Now, before I get raked over the coals, I am not accusing anyone of being part of a cult or that I have any better way of doing things than they do. The traditional church has still preached the Gospel, helped people through healing processes, fed the poor and come to peoples’ aid in times of need. The True Church is made up of those who truly follow Jesus Christ, even with (if not especially because of) all our imperfections and shortcomings. However, the traditional church has gotten in the way of what the Church is supposed to be. We are all hung up on ritual, tradition, routine and the comfort of someone else telling us what doctrines we should embrace.
Are some of us running on a hamster wheel? Do we place a higher value on listening to a sermon rather than listening for God’s voice? Do we get our thrill from singing a meaningful song more than helping someone in need? Are we satisfied with superficial relationships rather than real fellowship? Do you feel that attending and “tithing” is the extent of how you serve the Lord?
If you answered ‘yes’ to these questions, you are likely in a RUT. You may be in a church that is a RUT or you may have placed yourself in the position of being in a RUT. This does not necessarily mean we should leave our churches and find one that suits us better, but maybe a suggestion to re-examine what our motivations, intentions, decisions, inspirations are and from what source they come (Are we inspired because His Spirit is speaking, or because of an emotional experience?).
Let me put that this way…R.U.T.
Religious Uniformity Theater
Let’s face it. It comes down to us and Jesus. The songs will not maintain our relationship with Him. Sermons will not make us better servants. Wearing our “Sunday best” will not make us any more godly. Weekly attendance does not prove our spiritual condition. We just need to reconsider whether we are doing as the Lord commands us, or if we are going through the motions.
The YouTube link below will take you to Matthew West, Going Through The Motions.