Mark 16:15

"Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature"

Please God or Men?

We continue to examine the answer brother N. B. Hardeman gave when he was asked many years ago about the dangers facing the church. Today we are considering the second of the things he listed as dangers, and asking if this is still a problem today.  He listed “a tendency to make the church a social club for entertainment.”
The world we live in has changed tremendously in the past 70 years. When I was growing up very few had a telephone in their house, and those that did generally had to share it with others on a “party line.” The idea of personal phones, and personal computers was unheard of. Folks would actually talk to one another when they met. Today, it seems that a lot of folks have lost the ability to carry on a conversation, even with their family members.  
Growing up in the 50s and 60s, worship was a sacred privilege. There was an atmosphere of reverence when the church assembled for worship and for Bible Study. The coming of the “age of technology,” has had an effect on the entire population of the world today; there is a desire for the spectacular, and today’s devices must be bigger and better tomorrow; and that effect has also rolled over into our worship and has lead many to abandon the sincere, reverential worship “in spirit and truth” (John 4:24) to the point where it is little more than entertainment. A denominational visitor to our services one time remarked that our worship was dull.  This individual was used to standing and waving the hands when singing, dancing in the aisles, high-tech bands, and flamboyant preachers that claimed everything from the Holy Ghost speaking through them, speaking in tongues, to the ability to do all sorts of miracles. So sincere, reverential worship seemed dull.  
Sad to say, but this attitude has also been adopted by some of our brethren as well. One of the first indications of this years ago was replacing Bible Study with the study of the Andy Griffith Show. Several fell in line. Then there was the use of “praise teams,” “puppet shows,” and “drama teams.” And now it seems that many desire to be entertained rather than to just simply worship God. After all, it draws the crowds!
I remind you of a rhetorical question the Holy Spirit asked through the pen of Paul when writing to the churches of Galatia, “For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? or am I striving to please men?” (Gal. 1:10a). He then follows that question with this inspired statement: “For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ” (Gal. 1:10b). It seems apparent that Paul is saying it can be one way or the other, but not both ways. We can either seek the favor of men or the favor of God. Today we can either seek to “reprove, rebuke, and exhort with all long suffering and doctrine,” as Paul commanded (II Tim. 4:2b), or we can follow the requests of folks today like those of Isaiah’s day, who say, “Do not prophesy to us right things; Speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits” (Isa. 30:10). The only problem, is when we fail to follow God’s divine pattern for worship and doctrine, we are no longer pleasing God (II John 9-10).
I would love to see the church grow in number, but we must never give in to the ways of the world in attempt to achieve that goal. Paul’s statement in Romans 12:2 applies to our worship just as it does to our conduct before the world. Paul said, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

Paul M. Wilmoth