The Pride of the Church – Today’s Thoughts…
By Pastor Lee Hemen
November 7, 2008
The vision of Obadiah. This is what the Sovereign LORD says about Edom— We have heard a message from the LORD: An envoy was sent to the nations to say, “Rise, and let us go against her for battle”—“See, I will make you small among the nations; you will be utterly despised. The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rocks and make your home on the heights, you who say to yourself, ‘Who can bring me down to the ground?’ Though you soar like the eagle and make your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down,” declares the LORD. (Obadiah 1:1-4)
Edomites were the descendants of Esau. You remember Esau don’t you? Jacob, that deceitful guy, tricked his live for the moment brother out of his birth right with a bowl of stew. Twice. Once hungry Esau himself and his blind and decrepit father with a bowl as well. Later Edom, Esau’s descendants, would be both allies and enemies of Israel, Jacob’s descendants. Edom thought it could not ever be defeated because it had built its cities in the rocks. Remember the movie, “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”? The city where they find the Holy Grail is this city described by Obadiah of the Edomites.
Today’s American church has much in common with the Edomites of old. How so? In its pride of its heart. That which makes the church the church it is today. The heart of the church today is not focused on building the kingdom of God, but instead of building individual serfdoms populated by spiritually narcissistic adherents. Congregations are so focused on themselves that do not see that God is already allowing enemy forces to be assembled for battle against the church here in America. Today’s church thinks it can hide in the “cleft of the rock,” Jesus, but he is already standing right in front of them declaring, “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’” and is telling them, “I will tell [you] plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matthew 7:22-23) As D. A. Carson writes that Christians like to “worship worship” instead of God!
Many congregations think they are soaring like eagles, making their nests among the stars, but God is ready to bring them down. The warning here is real and it is sure. Just as the pride of Esau did not care about his birthright, and just as the pride of Edom thought it was safe from its enemies, the church today has sold its birthright and no longer has any fear of its enemies. Rather, it joins with the enemy by trying to appease and be like the world it is supposed to change with the message of the gospel! The gospel is not a message to make people feel good about themselves. It is the power of God to change lives from sin to holiness. Holiness is lost on the church today. Holiness is not found perpetuating self-indulgent introspection of our spiritual bellybuttons on how can Jesus help me with this personal problem today.
Pride. Pride is what infects the church today. It is a self-consuming, self-indulgence, and self-seeking pride that infects every area of the church, instead of an exultation and adoration of God. God’s own Son, who sacrificed himself on the cross, has been reduced to a self-help teacher with a program, a babysitter for youth, or a spiritual shot in the arm found in perpetuated worship.
I fear that the judgment of God is coming. The church today will be made “small among the nations” and it will be “utterly despised.” Not necessarily by the world which loves to be accepted by the church, but by God himself! And sadly, the church will not recognize that it is despised. This is its greatest pride, its greatest sin of all. When the church of Jesus becomes like the rest of the world, what hope does it offer and how is it different from the world? In its mad rush to be all things to all people, to become a commodity, a business practice, and programmable–it has forgotten that it is to be first and foremost the Body of Christ! It is his church bought and paid for by his blood.
“Though you soar like the eagle and make your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down,” declares the LORD. Is the church in America listening? Oh I pray so.
This article is copyrighted © 2008 by Lee Hemen and if you reprint it, reproduce it, or want to use it in any way, you must do so in its entirety or get the written permission of its author.