An Open Letter to My Brother
Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Xerxes, preeminent among the Jews, and held in high esteem by his many fellow Jews, because he worked for the good of his people and spoke up for the welfare of all the Jews. (Esther 10:3 NIV)
Re: Your stated that your only previous experience with a Protestant Church were my services in the Chapel. If you don’t know, I must tell you: My approach to services and worship were far from the ordinary Protestant services. In fact, a contributing factor to my exit one year ago, was this: I came to the conclusion that even my extreme model for Sunday worship was of little value. Over the many years I had morphed from a seminary-trained, robe-wearing, baby-baptizing, smiling main-line denominational, Sunday bulletin-following, “call-me-reverend“ pastor, into someone who rejects that model. I couldn’t continue producing a weekly dog-and-pony show, that competed with such things as sleeping in or watching Joel Osteen. Believing the weekly church service, as we know it, to be pagan in its origins, I became cynical. I doubted that what I was doing was worth the energy I put into it. Moreover, I felt like I was helping perpetuate a myth, that church-going was fulfilling our once-a-week duty for God.
Somewhere along the line, I realized the real church met on Sat. a.m., sat in a circle, openly discussed matters of faith and life, and went out from the gathering place committed to applying what was shared. Genuine saints were the Sat. a.m. regulars who came to learn, share and grow. I became torn between the façade of calling Sun. a.m. services church or worship, or Sat. “the Sabbath” as the day the church met to be edified.
I accepted one invitation to preach since I left. It left me cold. God has closed the door for me to put on the jacket and tie, and follow the agenda in the bulletin, while preaching the nice message. Success is having the people shake hands at the door, and with a smile say “Nice message, pastor.” (I almost feel ill when I think about the shallowness and phoniness of it all. And I helped perpetuate this fakery for over 35 years.)
Never will I forget running into a man who served as a pastoral mentor. Following a brief conversation at the movie theater, in the presence of his wife said, “It is time for the church to go underground.” He said it, but he could not make the break. He was pastoring a very large church in the area, and, as a bishop, was sought after by pastors who wanted to be where he was some day. He tried to go underground as we met monthly for a year for fellowship and support the house church movement. Beside the revolution inside me, nothing revolutionary came out of it. Churches were started, but they cannot be characterized as underground.
The world will try to squeeze you into its mold. If you acquiesce, becoming like the frog that is boiled incrementally, you will find yourself in a compromising position. God will deal with you in the way he thinks best, but I want to encourage you to be an anticipator instead. The time will come, and now is, when those who worship God, will not confine their worship to a building or place. They will worship him in spirit and in truth. For those are the worshippers the Father seeks.
God is about to judge his church or his house, those called by his name (1 Peter 4:17-19, Revelation 2-3.) It is essential for good and faithful servants to be proactive and anticipators. How can we sound the alarm of judgment if we operate from the inside? We need to be on the wall.
As we know from prophecy, many who claim to be believing Christians will fall away. Why? Because the traditional church will fail them. They cannot bring themselves to sound the alarm. They are watchmen who will refuse to blow the trumpet, and so the blood of their people will be on their hands. The time will come when you must decide: Do I want the approbation of men or the approval of God? (Romans 12:1-2)
How can we pretend any longer our nation will not soon face disgrace, that calamity will not overtake us? (Micah 2:6-7) Are we so blind we do not see “Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin” on the wall? To be given the mantle of a prophet, then failing to speak God’s Word just as he gave it means that we will fall by the same sword as those who are at ease in Zion, ignorant of the warning of God’s true prophets.
Pray for your strength on the day of reckoning. Pray for me also, that I might prove faithful to my calling. Who knows, but the Lord will see fit to spare us, and give us a name like Mordecai, among his people (Esther ).