1 Corinthians 2:9-10 – No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him — but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. (NIV)
When I was five and my brother was four, we would play church together. We'd get all dressed up, just like the grownups did. I was the organist and played my best on the old pump organ. My brother was the preacher. He would stand on the kitchen table with a book in his hand (often upside down). He'd deliver every message with passion and fervour. Then he would baptize my dolls at the bathroom sink, saying exactly the right words.
Let me tell you, it does not take a divinity degree to administer such clerical duties as pronouncing a benediction. My four-year-old brother could do it perfectly — even with the "correct" inflections.
In a sense, it's easy to learn how to play church, as Paul describes it, "having a form of godliness but denying its power" (2 Timothy 3:5a). We can learn the script at a young age. It's easy to learn how to be Presbyterian, Pentecostal, Catholic, or a house-churcher. And for some, it may be easy to shine in seminary.
However, it is infinitely harder to live the script which God has ordained for His people: to surrender our lives to Him, to die to our own ambitions, to forgo the praises of others, and to follow Christ regardless of the cost. In fact, God's script is even impossible to understand apart from the miracle of Christ's life birthed within — revealed through His Spirit. And what a miracle that is!
God's Spirit ushers us into an entirely new drama of church. This is the drama of God's mighty plan and promise: "I will make a new covenant" (Jeremiah 31:31). This is not play-acting. It's not mere imitation. It is authentic, and it is life-producing. Nothing can stop this drama from advancing through the course of human history. It is God's kingdom — enacted here on earth in the hearts and lives of His called ones.
In the end, it's not a matter of playing church or not playing church, but rather whose script we will follow: our own, or God's. The difference is significant!
Prayer: Our Father in heaven, may Your name be honoured. May Your kingdom — the full manifestation of Your rule — come. May Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.
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Listen while you read: "Near To The Heart Of God" (Lyrics)