I envy people who can hold their tongue. It used to be I could think something without having to verbalize it, but that was a younger version of me, long ago, and with less grey hair. The older I get the less I seem to care about blowback for something I've said or for the constraints of political correctness for that matter.
With age comes wisdom, and wisdom compels us to speak truth, whether unpopular, despised, or detested.
During a recent conversation with a pastor, he asked me a question which initiated an immediate and less than politically correct response. It is not an answer I ruminated upon, it is not a zinger I'd planned to insert somewhere in our dialogue, it just came out without my even being aware of it.
As we were discussing the current condition of the church in general, the aforementioned pastor asked, in an innocent and to my ears somewhat na´ve tone, when I thought the great awakening would commence in America.
Without skipping a beat, I looked him in the eyes, and answered, 'before we can hope for an awakening, those calling themselves Christians must know the difference between idolatry, and the true church.'
Even after having a few days to think about what I said, I still stand behind my statement. Before we can begin to hope for an awakening, the household of faith must know the difference between idolatry, and the true worship of the one true God.
When God is no longer present in the midst of the congregation, the ceremonies they go through, the programs they put forth, the plays and skits and other things they come up with to fill the few hours per week they're supposed to put on a show, amounts to idolatry, pure and simple.
Ezekiel 10:4, "Then the glory of the Lord went up from the cherub, and paused over the threshold of the temple; and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of the Lord's glory."
A great sadness wells up in my heart each time I read the tenth chapter of Ezekiel, because I imagine God causing His glory to hover over the threshold of the temple, holding His breath, wondering if the priests would notice His glory had departed.
How could those who ought to have known God best from among His people not notice He was no longer among them? How could those who ought to have been the most in tune with the glory of God, not begin to cry out and rend their garments the instant the glory of the Lord went up from the cherub?
Worship has become so mechanical, and our ceremonies have been reflexive and routine for so long, that we no longer see the superficiality of our routine any longer. No one asks if God is present, no one inquires as to why the glory of God has not made its presence felt in years and in some cases decades, because it's all perfunctory idolatry.
As long as the bills get paid, and the lights stay on, as long as we can afford a youth pastor and a music minister, who's going to notice the absence of God's glory?
God paused over the threshold of the temple hoping His people would notice the absence of His glory, but alas they were too busy going through the motions, too busy glorying in themselves, too busy reading manuals on church growth and the dynamic delivery of lukewarm messages to notice He was gone.
Ezekiel 10:18-19, "Then the glory of the Lord departed from the threshold of the temple and stood over the cherubim. And the cherubim lifted their wings and mounted up from the earth in my sight. When they went out, the wheels were beside them; and they stood at the door of the east gate of the Lord's house, and the glory of the God of Israel was above them."
God paused to see if His people would notice His glory had departed, and when they did not, both His glory, and the cherubim who stood guard, -who were they symbolic protectors of God's people-, lifted their wings and mounted up from the earth.
For four hundred years, those of the temple went about their ritual, and ceremony, for four hundred years they practiced their idolatry,-because the glory of God had mounted up, and left the earth-, and for four hundred years they did not notice the glory was absent.
The hour is late, and time is long overdue for those who remain faithful and true to God to cry out for His glory to return upon His beloved. Only the glory of God will restore the church to where it ought to be. Only the glory of God will stir the complacent, indifferent and apathetic hearts to wakefulness, bringing them to the place of true worship before His throne.
Two options remain viable to today's church: the first is to keep doing what we've been doing, to keep clanging cymbals, and banging drums, and manufacturing a glory of our own making, the second is to humble ourselves and come before Him in holiness with repentant hearts, and beseech Him to pour His Holy Spirit upon us, and return His glory to His people.
One thing is certain, if we don't know the difference between idolatry and true worship, we have never experienced true worship!
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.