When a human institution mixes obvious failings with good intentions and misses the mark of God’s ideal; do we call down the fire of His wrath or do we bless them for the little bit they might get right? Must we do one or the other? Can “cursing” or “blessing” have different meanings, and therefore some “cursing/blessing” may be appropriate while others are not? (e.g. the OT prophets) Recently I thought of one american institution where these questions seem relevant; the american mega-church “way” of doing church.
It’s obvious that the american mega-church model is built on the best of intentions. It’s also obvious that there are some righteous, God honoring people involved with this kind of church. But as more time to test and observe this style of gathering has accumulated, so have the glaring deficiencies and dissatisfied and disillusioned former attendees. (Ironically seeker-friendly mega-churches are intentionally built and run to satisfy people’s ‘felt’ needs…)
Despite the nagging discomfort with the style and fruit of these kinds of ‘churches’, I was encouraged recently to be nice and “bless” a newly minted local iteration (a campus franchise where sermons are piped in via video feed from the mother ship) because at least they’re trying and it must have something good to offer: look at all the people packing its giant auditorium.
I agree we shouldn’t curse them to everlasting punishment or even wish other disasters upon them; That is God’s call, not ours. But I cringe at this idea that we can’t honestly question or even warn against the obvious and egregious departures from God’s ideal expressions of His body on earth. Should we “bless” an institution where all the tithe money goes towards more institution building and self-pleasing gadgetry? Should we turn a blind eye and “bless” a place that serves up more milkshake than spiritual meat…week in and week out? Should we “bless” something that looks and sounds more like a theatre of entertainment? Should we bless a gathering where the gospel preached and lived is a watered-down, sugar-water potion that gives false comfort to crowds of never-quite-sold-out, carnal, perpetually-riding-the-fence american christians? No; I for one won’t bless that.
But I do think we should pray for them that God’s blessings of conviction and refinement fall down upon them. Prayers of lamentation and repentance on their behalf might be in order as well. And based on Biblical precedent, I believe it’s absolutely appropriate to call the failings out and speak against them as well, without condemning the offenders to the ultimate wrath of God…