We are back after a couple of weeks of blog vacation.
One of my favorite writers is C.S. Lewis and one of his most creative books is The Screwtape Letters. The book is a series of letters between two demons, Screwtape and Wormwood, who are trying to make sure a man know as the “The Patient” strays from God and is lured into damnation. It is a great book about the power of the devil and the power of temptation. One of my favorite passages is when the demons are discussing “The Patients” church going habits. Here is the part of the letter from Screwtape, to his young apprentice Wormwood.
You mentioned casually in your last letter that the patient has continued to attend one church, and one only, since he was converted, and that he is not wholly pleased with it. May I ask what you are about? Why have I no report on the causes of his fidelity to the parish church? Do you realise that unless it is due to indifference it is a very bad thing? Surely you know that if a man can’t be cured of churchgoing, the next best thing is to send him all over the neighborhood looking for a church that ‘suits’ him until he becomes a taster or connoisseur of churches.
The last line always gets me thinking, how many of us are connoisseurs of churches? If we don’t like something at our current church we move on to a different church. When that church does something we grow tired of, we move on again. Who would have thought that church hoping is tool that Satan uses against us.
Or some of us dabble at several churches at once. We go to small group at River Lighthouse Water Church because that is where our friends are at. We go to worship at 13th Reformed Church because they have the best worship leader but when their associate pastor preaches we go to check out the new church plant because we don’t like the associate at 13th. We send our kids to Main Street Lutheran Baptist Methodist Community Church because that is where their friends go.
We never set roots anywhere. And just like wine or good food we become spoiled and very particular about what we like. Is that really how we should treat Church? I don’t think so and that is why C.S. Lewis warns against it. To me church is about community and family and growing together, through the good and the bad. Striving as a group of believers to further understand how we should best serve God no matter if things are going well or seem to be falling apart.
From a parenting perspective what are we teaching our children when we become connoisseurs of churches. When we never settle in one place or at the first sign of trouble we start shopping for a new place of worship. Is that who we want our children to be? When things don’t go their when then it is okay to quit? You should only go where you have friends, never try and make new friends. You never have to fully commit to anything. That is just a few examples of the things we teach our kids when we become a connoisseur of churches.
I believe we must work hard to guard against that. Most of you that read this blog live in West Michigan, which is a place that is ripe for falling to the temptation of becoming a connoisseur of churches.
I would love to hear your thoughts.