“Nah, I don’t go anymore,” Jerry said when I talked to him about church. “I wasn’t getting anything out of it, so I quit.”
Jerry’s generation seems to be infected with “remotism,” a click-click mentality that sticks them to the remote control. Jerry’s TV at home is supposed to give him something quite specific, like a happy feeling, a laugh, something exciting: OK, let’s see, here’s channel 27: Yikes! Some skinny woman is talking about how she gets her calcium by drinking milk. Click. Channel 28: The local school district is floating a bond issue. Jerry clicks again. Seinfeld rerun! “Click, click, click” goes the remote.
The last time Jerry dragged himself to church, he missed his remote. Before the sermon was over he got up and left. Maybe he’ll be back again; maybe.
Going to church suffering from “remotism” means that the church and the preacher can compete only by becoming a show that draws you in and makes you feel good so you won’t just click them away.
One day when God brought His people together to talk about church He said: “If you will listen obediently to what I say and keep my covenant, out of all people, you’ll be my special treasure. The whole earth is mine to choose from, but you’re special: a kingdom of priests, a holy nation” (Ex. 19:5, 6).* Peter explains: “You are the ones chosen by God, . . . for the high calling of priestly work, . . . [and] to be a holy people, God’s instruments to . . . tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted” (1 Peter 2:9, 10).
It’s God’s two-part, failproof way to avoid click-click “remotism”; and it goes a long way toward revitalizing personal religious experience and conquering church boredom and apathy. First, God calls us to be “a holy people”—people who focus constantly on keeping our relationship with Jesus Christ strong, growing, and active. We cooperate with Him by finding things that contribute to a healthy friendship and avoiding whatever may weaken or cripple it.
God also wants us to be a “kingdom of priests.” A priest is an intercessor—a two-way talker who talks to God about the people and talks to the people about God.
Are you talking to God about that woman at work who irritates you so much? If you are, He may be able to help you understand why she acts the way she does. And your kids’ doctor seemed quite upset the last time you were in his office; and the teenager next door constantly blasting away that awful music on his car stereo. Are you interceding with God about these people?
The other side of priestly two-way talk means that we also talk with the people on behalf of God, testifying to them about “the night-and-day difference He made” for us. God Himself deeply cares about these people. He wants to help us find the moment that’s just right for sharing with them about Him.
Living this way, actively seeking holiness and caring deeply about people and their needs, we will never suffer from “remotism” at church. We won’t go there looking for a laugh. We will realize that church is us and that God wants us to be the real show: the display of His grace that brings joy and love and life to everyone who sees it; who sees us, that is.
* Scripture texts in this article are from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group. (Italics supplied.)
Retired professor of religion, Loron Wade lives in Montemorelos, Mexico.