…You know you want to
When I was a child, I attended Sunday school. I enjoyed the experience especially because of all the singing we did. The songs usually reechoed in my mind more than the bible stories did during the course of the week. One of the songs I remember from back then goes thus;
Gimme that old time religion 3x it’s good enough for me. It was good for Paul and Silas 3x it’s good enough for me It was good for the Hebrew children 3x it’s good enough for me Gimme that old time religion 3x It’s good enough for me.
I did not think much about what the song meant at the time but, as I grew older and began to observe the disparity between the ‘old time religion’ and ‘the new school church’, the deep meaning of the song dawned on me. A lot has changed since the days of Paul and Silas. I mean those guys could walk into a church these days and not even recognize it as one. That is how far some of our churches have moved from the precedence of the apostles.
In my life time, I have been a member of several churches, a larger number of which was before I acquired a sense of religion and spiritual consciousness.
Thus, I will base my analysis on the few others that came later.I belonged to a youth fellowship for most of my undergraduate years. The brethren were firebrand, spirit-filled, tongue speaking and sober, quite reminiscent of the old time church if I say so myself. We spent more time in sober worship; heartfelt praise; deep meditation on the scriptures and less time on superfluous and superficial jubilation. There was a brotherly connection that went beyond the shallow display of affection that seems to characterize relations in the new school. I miss those days.
Dressing was generally modest. The ladies mostly kept their skirts at least an inch below the knee and with room enough for the brothers to keep their thoughts pure. Some ladies wore make up, albeit sparingly and head covering was non-negotiable…no room for controversy. Sermons bordered mostly on a life of righteousness and each man working out his own salvation with fear and trembling. We also shared on the benefits of our salvation and received all blessings with humble appreciation. We had a few misdemeanors within the fellowship that cannot totally be separated from the common stirrings of youthful exuberance but, in all, we were always sober enough to retrace our steps.
Note that I tend to place a certain measure of importance on a life of sober worship. My passion for that virtue seems to have been heightened by the wake of distractingly-superficial religion around me.
Being in a new environment, I began attending a new church at the beginning of the year. I thought the services were rather boring. Well, that thought only lasted until I honoured an invitation to a bubbling youth church recently. The first thing I observed was how gaily the workers were dressed. Honestly, they looked pretty nice. Most of the various groups of workers were dressed in beautifully designed uniforms. I had to wonder how expensive it would be to maintain that dress code on a regular basis. Also, it would have been impossible not to notice that every single female worker (yes, I wrote it, ‘every’ one of them) wore shoes at least 4.5” high because of the obvious discomfort with which several of them walked. Their short skirts probably would not have been so unsettling if they weren’t equally so tight. And the loud matching make up on the female ushers…well, that was just laughable.
With reasonable apprehension of being labeled an enemy of high fashion, I should state categorically that I’m an advocate for people looking nice and trendy. I however do not see any reason why we should focus all our energy on looking good for church. The more desperately we try, the more it removes our focus from higher and far more important things. When the ushering ‘sisters’ start to try too hard to look ‘good’, distraction is guaranteed both for the beholder and the beheld.
As soon as I settled into my seat within the auditorium, a minister came on to announce the commencement of the praise and worship session to be led by the church choir which had a name reminiscent of rock bands in the 70s. Well, to be perfectly honest, I did not know 90% of the songs they raised. And just before you start to think it in your hearts, let me say that the reason is not because I have not been going to church regularly *I have*. The praise was very vibrant and it was obvious that the choir took their time to learn new songs and not bore the congregation with the same old songs, quite unlike the old school churches. ‘I like’.
The sermon was quite insightful and inspiring. However, the preacher seemed to be playing to the gallery a lot. I wished he wasn’t. I was deeply disturbed by the desperate attempt to sound sophisticated. The Word has suddenly become an instrument for causing excitement in people- a perfect recipe for building shallow Christianity. People overlook the message and celebrate the method of delivery.
This is where we find religion without any form of personal relationship with God. Brethren will greet each other ‘in tongues’ while in church but hardly ever pray in their closet. I call it the ‘hip-hop-hurray religion’. A sort of Christianity where we all go to church, jump up and lift our hands high at every word the preacher says even though we have not ‘met’ the God of whom he speaks. Be warned. Our God is not mocked. The faith of many will grow in a place like this but it is my opinion that many more will simply be distracted without even realizing it.
Let’s just say I now appreciate my church more. It’s less boring to me because I have realized the value of sober worship and I put in extra effort to focus during the service. Better sober and in tune with God than vibrant and totally out of order… Just saying.
This is not an attack on anyone’s style of worship. It’s just my old school point of view 😉