The Gilded Age

I found an anorexic
A line slanted on
two sides
I lay neath this
Bloody tee pee
Sowed together from
Live hides
Oh I will make mistakes
in ranting
For the blood has made
me blind
But I have seen a
graven image
Which my hate can
not abide

I attended a fairly well known Christmas carol performance put on by a very wealthy and affluent Christian school last week. The show consisted of various bands singing and playing music and a small play. After the play was over, and the concert was wrapping up. A well known Christian radio host gave a very basic gospel message and testimony, and then an informal altar call. Pretty standard stuff right? And beyond that, just the sort of thing we should want. Right?

The presentation of this gospel message was so vehemently poor, I felt sick. 

I know many of you may not share the same convictions as me, but I am a firm believer that the Holy Spirit needs to play a pivotal part not only in how church should run but specifically in salvation. The way this message was preached seemed to almost spit in the face of the spirit.

He began by emphasizing how he knew that there would be people deeply impacted, not because of the work of the spirit, but because of how meaningful the play was. Next he gave a brief testimony, wherein he practically glorified his old sinful life. Lastly, he jumped headlong into an altar call, asking people to raise their hands if they were going to receive Christ, and counting them onstage while our eyes were supposed to be closed. His attitude kept pressing that he knew he was doing the Lord’s work, and he was going to accomplish it in us whether we wanted it or not. 

Now, I am NOT saying, that the Lord did not work through this man’s sermon and the entire production. But the Lord works whenever, wherever, and through whomever he wishes, and I do not credit that to the man. 

Honestly, the sermon felt like the religious equivalent of date rape. And that’s from a sincerely devoted Christian. Even worse, it felt like showing up to a date expecting dinner and a movie, and your date immediately pushing to go back to their place.

There was no humility. There was no reliance. There was no patience. There was no trust. We are called to follow the spirit’s leading and instruction, not force our will on an unwitting populace. Our relationship with the Lord is a marriage, and we can’t expect it to be a healthy marriage if we tried to force or trick people into it.

It is from this event and from many in my life thus far that I say this: The Church has entered the Gilded Age.

For years and years previous, the spiritual descendants of the great awakenings and other Charismatic movements had followed the spirit into moving the direction of the church, and a clandestine group of these churches still exist (find one if you can!). But the majority of churches have run out of spiritual capital, and are now painting with lead instead of gold. 

If we are not living in and for Christ, we are not Christians. If we are not following the spirit we are going nowhere. If we are not living in relationship then we are living in lies.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: If you’re in church leadership and you do not know Christ personally and as a friend, or don’t know the spirit as your guide, step down. If you aren’t discerning the Lord’s leading then you aren’t fit to lead a church.


The Indefinable Emotion


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