Which comes more quickly to you: a way to critique what is going on in your church, or a way to compliment and encourage? Does Satan and his minions, who are many, have any stake in how you answer that question?
I invite you to join in on a discussion going on between some demons about our church-shopping culture, the wrong attitude towards churches and preaching that it fosters, and how this serves their ends (remember, to a demon, the ‘Enemy’ is God):
Surely you know that if a man can’t be cured of churchgoing, the next best thing is to send him all over the neighbourhood looking for the church that ‘suits’ him until he becomes a taster or connoisseur of churches.
The reasons are obvious.
In the first place the parochial organisation should always be attacked, because, being a unity of place and not of likings, it brings people of different classes and psychology together in the kind of unity the Enemy desires. The congregational principle, on the other hand, makes each church into a kind of club, and finally, if all goes well, into a coterie or faction.
In the second place, the search for a ‘suitable’ church makes the man a critic where the Enemy wants him to be a pupil. What He wants of the layman in church is an attitude which may, indeed, be critical in the sense of rejecting what is false or unhelpful, but which is wholly uncritical in the sense that it does not appraise – does not waste time in thinking about what it rejects, but lays itself open in uncommenting, humble receptivity to any nourishment that is going. (You see how grovelling, how unspiritual, how irredeemably vulgar He is!)
This attitude, especially during sermons, creates the condition (most hostile to our whole policy) in which platitudes can become really audible to a human soul. There is hardly any sermon, or any book, which may not be dangerous to us if it is received in this temper. (from The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis)
Do you believe in demons? You should. And this is exactly the kind of conversations they are having, and tactics they are employing. Don’t be so arrogant to think you are above falling prey to their temptations. Be aware of these tendencies in your heart, these attitudes in your mind, as you go to church on Sunday.
May we come to our churches as pupils, laying ourselves “open in uncommenting, humble receptivity to any nourishment that is going,” ready to learn from the Father who uses imperfect churches, and imperfect pastors, and imperfect sermons to make us more like Jesus.