One time, I was visiting a mainstream, large, influential American Evangelical church for a mid-week special service.

They had invited a denominational leader to come and speak.

He said in his talk–which I will not dignify by calling it a sermon–that he believed in capital punishment. With a gleam in his eye and a delighted smile, he said if it was up to him, he would “line them up and fry ‘em three-at-a-time!”

This was met with laughter, applause, and even cheers.

Then a worship song.

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I knew then that the church and its leadership in America are so sick, and so twisted in on ourselves, that we have lost sight of the heart of Jesus.

The gods we worship are preference and privilege, comfort, cliques, and convenience, along with the evil spirits of nationalism and military might.

Much of the church as we see it is a shell of a thing, an empty form, having long rejected the lordship of Christ and actively quenched the Spirit.

It’s easy to see:

where tears of compassion have been replaced with condescension and anger,

where tender-hearted pleading has been supplanted by top-down dictates,

where kind, patient conversation has been subverted by orders to speak only what is allowed by a select few,

where the word “justice” is met with suspicion,

where the the poor know they will be blamed for their plight,

where the segregation of language and culture are maintained,

where the appeal to fear is made so much more than the declaration of hope,

and ESPECIALLY where’s there’s little interest in speaking about Jesus, learning about Jesus, and walking with Jesus in every day life,

and ESPECIALLY where the radical, non-violent, forgiving way of the Cross is dismissed as “not practical” and “unrealistic,”

…the glory of God has left the Temple.

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But I believe our God pours fresh water into dry riverbeds.

There is a Rock that quenches the thirst of those in the wilderness.

There is a holy habitation that will not be demolished, before which the gates of hell must dissolve.

Photo by Derek Thomson on Unsplash