Without God, maybe I can improve some things at church. About halfway through Sinclair Lewis’ 1927 classic, Elmer Gantry, Elmer boasts to another minister about all his church programs, how fast his church is growing, and how many new members have joined, etc. After this braggadocio, the other minister asks, ‘Elmer why don’t you believe in God?’ Until recently I completely misunderstood this part of the book. Now I get it. Elmer really was ahead of his time. I’ve overrated belief. Think of all the possibilities. Without God, worship is much easier.
Without God, I don’t need to take time for spiritual reflection and preparation before worship. Whatever happens, happens. I don’t need to prepare to meet God or encourage those around me. I can just sit back, relax, and wait for the show.
Without God, I don’t have to question who or what I worship. I’ve always disliked the bashing of my favorite idols mammon and convenience, and without God around, I can leave these in place where they belong at the center of my life. Besides what’s wrong with plurality anyway? Don’t all roads lead to the same end?
Without God, communion is just a snack, no need to reflect. Maybe I can make it a bigger snack, maybe add in some other choices. I’m a little tired of unleavened bread. Maybe I’ll substitute some granola bars and grape Nehigh. Or maybe use a calorie free, grape flavored soda.
The early church missed the point of worship. Identification with Jesus is really not all that important. All that emphasis on who we are in Jesus. Maybe community did arise and come from the identification with Christ, but as a modern I know rapid growth from cool marketing buzz and hip worship creates the most excitement. So what if I end with a building full of people with little concern for being a disciple? Why do I need genuine community? I want measurable success and body count. Everyone knows measurable success validates ministry. Springing up quickly and fast growth makes my organization valid. Nobody cares about deep soil? Going deep disturbs me. I want to stay in the shallow end of the pool where I feel safe. I don’t need roots as long as I feel busy and entertained.
That taking up the cross message drags me down. I don’t want to hear that. It interferes with my life purpose, being successful and getting rich. If I leave out the cross, more people will want to come and follow my group.
I’ll make make sure I emphasize the savior side of Jesus. The lordship and obedience side? Count me out on that, so passé. I can make my life decisions without that.
And let’s keep worship to exactly one hour including announcements because I look forward to talking with my friends and getting out in time to get a good seat at my favorite restaurant. And speaking of my friends, if people see the cool cliques of my group, they’ll know we love one another. They’ll know us by our love right? Or maybe they’ll know us by our love for ourselves. Where is my Bible anyway? I never can seem to get that passage right.
Without God Everything Improves
Without God, I can have really relevant, culturally significant, topical sermons about current events. The more current and up to date, the more people will want to visit my church to see my group’s relevance.
Without God, I can continue to be an amateur providence for the people around me, and when I think they suffer too much, I can step in and save them from their spiritual pain because there’s just so much people can take. This really poses no risk of preventing Jesus from working in their life; I must make sure they stay committed to my group.
Just think, without God, worship is much easier. I can come as I am and stay as I am. Who needs identification with Christ, true community, and transformation? I only need a form of godliness. Our groups need to train up more ministers like Elmer. I can get back to the worship of the good old days of Is Your Worship Classic Greek?