A few months ago, I visited a local Christian church. It wasn’t a regular service time. I was there not for the purpose of worship or teaching, but to meet with a local charity planning committee. The church had agreed to allow us to use their facility as they are also partners in this particular humanitarian effort.
As it so happened, the worship team was in the sanctuary practicing for their Sunday worship service. We were meeting in the rather large atrium where small tables were assembled for pre-service coffee and fellowship. During our meeting, we could clearly hear the gifted voices and talented musicians caringly bellow out tunes of worship. It was as if our efforts were being joined together with a singing choir as we beseeched the King on how we could care for those in need. But then, the whole spirit changed. Literally.
Before I tell you what happened next, I must first give you a description of my surroundings. You see, it’s been a while since I’ve walked through the doors of a Catholic or Protestant church. For many years now, my family has attended home fellowships and Messianic synagogues/fellowships. Some of these have been more Hebraic or Jewish and others have been more Christian. So, perhaps I’ve been a little sheltered from the current mainstream church.
When I arrived at this particular church, the front doors welcomed me with what looked like carnival or circus carriages that housed wild animals. These were obviously props, but it was strange to say the least. When I pushed the doors open, I was astonished to find myself standing right in a very well done stage set for the Wizard of Oz! Under my feet lay the “yellow brick road”. Beside me was a giant tornado made from plastic drop cloths painted gray, black, and white that extended from the floor to the ceiling. (And the ceiling in the large atrium extended up at least 3 stories!)
My jaw must have dropped open because a young man approached me and began to explain my surroundings. I whirled around stunned by the grandeur of the display. A huge and carefully painted “Emerald City” lay before me where the meek little tables and chairs that we would soon fill were arranged. To my right was a magnificently colored hot air balloon and next to that was a giant green throne high and lifted up, obviously for Oz, the great and powerful.
I didn’t know whether to run, laugh, or cry. I reminded myself why I was there and politely took a seat at one of the tables. There, I had a view of everything that was behind me: life size black cut-outs of witches and brooms. I’m thinking, “THIS IS A CHURCH?!”
But then other volunteers began to arrive, so I settled on the task at hand. The worship team began their practice and we started the meeting. But then, what already seemed “bad” in my mind, got much much worse. The worship team stopped and then began again. But this time, they used their gifts and talents to belt out Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody!
Don’t get me wrong, I like a lot of secular music outside the setting of worshipping God. And, I admittedly have in the past sung along to the Bohemian Rhapsody. However, even in my ignorance, I could never imagine singing this song unto the LORD. (Yikes!)
My first thought was that they must be doing a parody of the song by changing the lyrics to glorify God. Boy was I wrong. Every word was annunciated with crisp clarity. Even this part:
Oh mama mia, Mama mia, Mama mia, Let me go!
Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me! – For me! – For me!
REALLY? They’re really going to sing this verse glorifying Satan (Beelzebub; A.K.A. Lord of the flies) in a worship service that is meant to glorify YHWH?
My bewilderment must have been written all over my face. One of the volunteers turned to me and explained that she attends this church. Then she PROUDLY declared that they begin every service with a secular song. The week prior they had all sang a Lynyrd Skynyrd song. My expression must not have improved because she went on to explain how cool and awesome this was for new comers and truth seekers.
I began to scream… on the inside.
“Where am I?” I wondered. I drive by this normal looking protestant church nearly every day. I looked around the table. I seemed to be the only person there that was not only uncomfortable but grieved at the obvious pollution of truth. Instead of honoring YHWH the Most High and Awesome God, I found myself sitting feet away from the fictitious green throne of Oz, the great and powerful. Echoing in my ears was odes to Beelzebub. Yet, each “well meaning” Christian surrounding me was proud of this type of “outreach”.
What provoked me to write this article was a conversation in my ladies bible study this week. One of my dear friends (who had been told of my experience after it first transpired) told me that she heard that another church in our small town was also singing secular music during church services. But this case, as it turns out, is even worse. Their entire so called “worship” service is secular now. Those that want to hear real worship music can stay after service and the worship team will play for them. WHAT?!!! Play for them? Aren’t we supposed to be playing for YHWH in the first place?
So, I decided to vent today; sorry dear reader. One thing I did was look up the lyrics to the Bohemian Rhapsody. And this verse stood out as well.
Easy come easy go; will you let me go?
Bismillah! No we will not let you go! Let him go!
I discovered that bismillah means “In the name of Allah”. Wow, Queen really covered all the evil bases with this number. How many unwitting listeners (me included) have sang this song openly glorifying in one stanza Satan and Allah? I mean, is their worship team really this naïve? They had to READ the lyrics to sing the song. Even if they didn’t recognize bismillah or Beelzebub, they should have certainly known what a “devil” is, right?
So, I know you’re wondering if I called them out.
No. And here’s why. I fervently began to silently pray to the King of Kings on what He would have me do or say. What kept coming to my mind was this mantra, “I am a light, not a judge. I am a light! Not a judge!” After I left, I wondered why YHWH didn’t release me to speak my peace.
But as I meditated on the lunacy of the whole “show”, I realized that they would have never “heard” anything I had to say. Sure I could’ve propped myself up on a real high soapbox and declared my disdain and backed my proclamation with verse after verse of scripture that would prove YHWH agreed with me. But that sort of self-righteous attitude would have only proved their point. At least in their minds. Sometimes you just don’t cast your pearls before the swine. And NO, those precious souls aren’t swine. However, their actions are exactly that: mud wallowing! Very simply, they are not in place to hear — not yet.
I began a Google search on this phenomenon of secular music instead of worship music in the modern church. Apparently, it is all the rage. Opinions run high on both sides of the issue. On the one hand, people are convinced that they must bend over backwards to make those in the “world” feel right at home when they enter the church doors. If this means a little rock or pop, so be it. On the other hand, you have others that feel that this type of compromise can do more damage than good.
I must agree to the latter view. I honestly can’t believe that anyone who knows the Word and/or church history could ever condone such behavior — not in worship. That may sound harsh, and retractors are quick to bark that we are limiting God by denying this practice. Really? The Creator of heaven and earth is limited by us? I don’t think so, not even a little.
I suppose the real issue IS the heart as the retractors also claim. All that matters is the intent of our heart, right? Has anyone considered God’s heart? Do you really think He doesn’t care if you belt out tunes to satan or allah or sex or debauchery when you come to offer Him a sacrifice of praise? Somebody missed their reading of the Torah and the Prophets. YHWH does not change! He abhors mixtures, mingling of truth with lies, and unjust scales and measures. Even something He commands can become a stench in His nostrils if we do so with impure intents. Remember the serpent on the pole? What once healed the people later became an idol. And yes, it all started with good intentions.
Just because you slap the LORD (YHWH’s)/Yeshua’s name on something doesn’t make it good, right, or holy. Go and ask the Israelites about the golden calf! In their day and age, golden calves were all the rage. Everyone had seen one; perhaps they had even seen miracles take place near one. Go back and reread this account in Exodus. The Children of Israel didn’t declare the calf by another god’s name; they called it YHWH (the LORD)! Are golden calves alive and well in the church today? We are only fooling ourselves if we deny this fact.
What about Elijah? Wicked Jezebel MIXED the true worship of YHWH with the worship of Baal. So what did Elijah tell the people to do?
Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people did not answer him a word. (1Kings 18:21)
It’s not about what you and I like or even want. It’s about what YHWH desires. We don’t come before the King of the Universe and demand that we shall worship Him like the world or heathen nations. (Please read ALL of 2Kings 17) This behavior is the same thing as serving idols and baal. It doesn’t matter that you proclaim the LORD’s name while you do it; it is still an abomination whether you realize it or not. We don’t get to pick how we will worship God. He is the One who tells us how we are to worship Him. Doing what feels right or good to us … doesn’t mean God accepts it.
There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death. (Pr. 14:12)
The naive believes everything, But the sensible man considers his steps. A wise man is cautious and turns away from evil, But a fool is arrogant and careless. (Pr. 14:15-16)
Many people tend to forget that there are plenty of lying spirits that can make us feel good about ourselves or our practices. They can even perform miracles. The reason people are deceived is because they do not know the truth (the Word) well enough to discern error when they see it. So, because something makes them feel good, they believe it is from God or okay with Him. They forget that the real King of heaven and earth hates compromise.
Thus says the LORD, “Do not learn the way of the nations, And do not be terrified by the signs of the heavens Although the nations are terrified by them; (Jer. 10:2)
Do we really think that we have to become just like the world in order to reach the lost? We might be in the world, but we are not “of” it. This church that I went to really believes that they must be like the world in order to gain the lost. They use secular music and movies as an outreach. As I sat there thinking about the vast expense and time that had been spent on the elaborate “Oz” set, all I could imagine is the impact they could have if their efforts had been centered on a biblical story. Why not use the Word to glorify God?
Now don’t get me wrong, YHWH can reach people in amazing ways and I know He does so through secular means all the time. But once we come to a so called “House of God” that is supposed to be “not of the world”, shouldn’t we expect to see a difference? Isn’t that what being holy or set apart is all about? In the verse below, Jesus (Yeshua) says the world loves their own. If the world loves us, what does that say about us?
“If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. (John 15:19)
But after all of this writing, I now think that this problem is really just a symptom of the disease. We have turned away from the unadulterated truth and have become a business instead of a body. It’s a numbers and profits business, not a set apart body following the Master of the Universe at all costs. What I witnessed was pure and simply harlotry. (A body that sells itself for gain)
We must pray for the masses that are falling hook, line, and sinker for a counterfeit gospel that has its cup mixed full of abominations. After all, that’s what the enemy does. He mixes truth with lies or we would never believe it. His tactics are subtle. Evil rarely appears as obvious evil. Does it really matter? In the end, are we all going to join Queen in saying:
“Nothing really matters to me. Any way the wind blows.”
I hope not.