So I'm channel surfing yesterday, and I flip to a religious station. A marathon "praise-a-thon" to raise money. For the station or missions or whatever. Folks are standing at their seats with their arms raised, moving and swaying to the music, eyes all watery, and sending up a few shouts in between stanzas. A large group of singers and musicians blanket the stage, leading the auditorium from one song to the next, on and on and on and on. I wonder if they classify this as entertainment? Are the people who tune in moved to donate by watching this? An occasional testimony is relayed, the person in 70's couture talking loud and long about sowing seeds of prosperity. Giving in faith. And how God has blessed them, saved them from a life of poverty, sickness, and disease. All because they sowed their seed.
Phone numbers blink at the bottom of the screen and I wonder how many of these I've sat through in my lifetime?
Does God really need my money? Or does He really intend to test my faith on a regular basis by whether or not I give my last dime?
I suppose that depends on whether or not we take the scriptures literally. The condemnation I feel for even writing this blog post weighs heavy on me, because you see, I was brought up on the covenants of God. On the conviction of the Holy Spirit. On the literal meaning of each and every scripture. And if you did not believe as I did, then whoa be unto you. You were dead already.
I understand why these praise and worship marathons exist. I know the love they feel for their Creator, but I also understand the fear involved. The sorrow they feel for anyone who does not believe like they do. Or walk their same path. I swallowed that dogma for years and chased the feelings of eternal security until my feet were worn to bloody stubs.
Am I now an apostate? Have I forsaken the cross?
I've grown tolerant. I've learned that more than anything, God's love can not be explained or compared to the love we know as humans. I will never walk in fear again. I learned that we cannot control God by "giving until it hurts." I've even grown tolerant of folks praising God on camera and living like the devil when the house lights are turned off.
I changed the channel eventually. At least Ellen DeGeneres isn't using guilt to get my last dime. And she makes me laugh. That's more than I can say for a gospel-singing marathon.
Blessings to you and yours.