This is the third article in a series on the book of Ezekiel as it relates to the small church.
5 Then He said to me, “Son of man, lift your eyes now toward the north.” So I lifted my eyes toward the north, and there, north of the altar gate, was this image of jealousy in the entrance.
6 Furthermore He said to me, “Son of man, do you see what they are doing, the great abominations that the house of Israel commits here, to make Me go far away from My sanctuary? Now turn again, you will see greater abominations.” 7 So He brought me to the door of the court; and when I looked, there was a hole in the wall. 8 Then He said to me, “Son of man, dig into the wall”; and when I dug into the wall, there was a door.
9 And He said to me, “Go in, and see the wicked abominations which they are doing there.” 10 So I went in and saw, and there—every sort of creeping thing, abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, portrayed all around on the walls. 11And there stood before them seventy men of the elders of the house of Israel, and in their midst stood Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan. Each man had a censer in his hand, and a thick cloud of incense went up. 12 Then He said to me, “Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the room of his idols? For they say, ‘The LORD does not see us, the LORD has forsaken the land.’”
13 And He said to me, “Turn again, and you will see greater abominations that they are doing.” 14 So He brought me to the door of the north gate of the LORD’s house; and to my dismay, women were sitting there weeping for Tammuz.
15 Then He said to me, “Have you seen this, O son of man? Turn again, you will see greater abominations than these.” 16 So He brought me into the inner court of the LORD’s house; and there, at the door of the temple of the LORD, between the porch and the altar, were about twenty-five men with their backs toward the temple of the LORD and their faces toward the east, and they were worshiping the sun toward the east.
One of the saddest things you will have to deal with as a small church pastor is the fact that many Christians in today's society try to blend the church with the world. They want Jesus and self at the same time. They desire to live the way they see fit with a dose of God thrown in for good measure.
Not all small church people are like this of course. In fact some small churches have very few of these folks. But the average congregation in America has at least a few of them and you are going to have to learn how to deal with it.
In Ezekiel's day it was people who wanted the blessings of Judaism's God while simultaneously worshipping other gods. They offered incense to beasts, bowed down to the sun, and in other ways honored creation more than the Creator. And if that wasn't bad enough, some of them were doing it in the temple--the house called by God's name. The main reason they did so was because they did not see God at work, they needed something more, so they turned in other directions.
We see the same thing in our day. Christian people often do not see God at work (although they would if they looked with spiritual eyes). They know they need something more so they turn to other things.
It is heartbreaking as a pastor to watch people you care about turn to self, money, possessions, drugs, pleasure, entertainment, and many other things trying to fill the spot reserved for God. These people are hurting to be sure, but they are looking in the wrong place for the answers. God condemned it in Ezekiel's day and does so in our time as well.
One thing you must really watch out for is when they try to bring it into the church. You would think they would know better but just like the people brought it into the temple they will try to infiltrate the church as well. Pastor, the church is about worshipping God and witnessing to the lost. You are responsible before the Lord to keep it that way.
You must stand against those who want to bring the gods of this world into the church. In the desire to become large, many small churches have allowed worldliness to come in trying to be "seeker sensitive." Now don't misunderstand. Unlike some small church advocates I am not opposed to the seeker sensitive idea. Doing what we can to reach the lost is important. But be careful how you go about it. The ends do not justify the means if we let the world into the church.
But more than that, some small churches become all about entertainment, properity, self, etc. not to try to reach the lost but in a misguided attempt to keep the saved! God help us!
Pastor it is up to you to remain true to the mission of the church. It is not always easy, as Ezekiel saw in his time. But it is a part of what God has called you to do. Let the church be the church, and let all other ideas remain outside.
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