I used to be an active member of a large Pentecostal Church. At first I was drawn to the music, the vitality, and the friendliness. It was so different to church as I’d previously known it. The Pastor was spontaneous and at times outrageous. It was so much fun. But as the years passed and the fun continued, I noticed that the Bible was never properly preached, and the members of the church continued in their sin as they always had. There was no accountability, no gospel, and no true repentance. Why was the church growing? Why were we still attending? Why did I feel dry, and stale, and distant from God?
Although it took time, I recognised the problem. Christianity in that church was experential. Everyone was there for an experience, a word from God, a touch, a prophecy, some new wine. But there was no strong foundation and we started to suffer.
After much prayer and deliberation I called a meeting with the Pastor and implored him to preach the gospel, to preach repentance, and to feed his flock. He was outraged and I was ousted from the church. The congregation were instructed to have no contact with me as I was a heretic and a trouble maker, causing division between the righteous. I walked away battered and broken.
Fast forward seven years. I attend a Reformed Church with solid Biblical teaching, by solid Biblical teachers, who encourage us to be obedient to God’s word, to be honest about our true condition, and to seek God in all that we do. We experience God through the Scriptures, and through prayer and fellowship with each other. No theatrics. No pulsating band. No mood setting. Just the beautiful truth.
Whilst I am still considered the enemy by the Pentecostal Church I attended, I am able to follow their movements. Unfortunately nothing has changed. They have Oscar nights, pamper weekends, indulgence feasts, red carpet night, the trusty old Billy Cart bash in place of church, and all of the fun they can muster up. Everyone is still where they were. Kenneth Copeland is revered above the Scriptures, and the church band has a new album out. They are living their best life now and loving it!
My point here is not to criticise and put down these people. My heart still breaks for each and every one of them. Anyone who is not part of their particular denomination is considered unsaved and unenlightened. The Pastor is above reproach as he is God’s prophet here on earth, and he must be obeyed at all costs. I am broken for these people as they don’t know the true, living God. They have accepted an imitation god; one who gives them their every hearts desire, provides them with great wealth, health and worldly success. They reject suffering of any kind, and poverty is considered a sign of God’s displeasure. I don’t want these people to be living their best life now. I want them to keep their eyes on the Jesus of the gospel, and to aim for their best life after this one. I pray that the Lord would open their eyes and reveal Himself to them, but I also acknowledge that sometimes, God gives us what we want. Maybe they have exactly what they want right here, and right now, and they wouldn’t trade that for anything. They have swallowed the sweet, sweet poison of the enemy, and are hungry for more. And even as it slowly dulls their senses and then kills them, they will be crying out for more, shaking their fists at Jesus, accusing Him of ruining their fun, of being a heretic, and turning away for eternity.