Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The "F" Word In Church

For several months my church's mid-week service was a cover to cover reading of Clark Whitten's book Pure Grace. One night we talked about our notions of what God is like.

First we looked at Holy Spirit. Truth be told, there's no scripture that says He's a gentleman. He can be grieved but He's not so super sensitive and fragile that any little deviation sends Him into a tizzy. A situation was shared where the “F” word was used several times and Holy Spirit didn't tuck tail and run. A little profanity didn't keep Him from healing that hurting individual. He's got pretty tough skin, after all He has to deal with us.

We turned our attention next to our Heavenly Father.

While most Christians agree that God is our Spiritual Father, they do not think He is a very good one. Many think He is demanding, stern, distant, unyielding, uncaring at times and more interested in our good behavior than anything else. If truth be told, many of us believe He is unfair in His judgments and often rewards people who are not as deserving as others. He punishes us when we sin and withholds His presence and fellowship as a means of correcting us. He is always serious, and having fun is beneath Him. His sense of humor is strongly controlled at best and absolutely lacking at worst. He is big and fearsome, and scary and unknowable. He demands deference and humility if we show the temerity to come into His presence. Many see the 'Fear of God' as the one human quality that impresses Him most. Frankly speaking, He seems to be unappeasable and almost abusive in His relationship with His children. He always demands a little more than we are presently giving or doing, and we see no end to it until we get to Heaven.”
Clark Whitten, Pure Grace page 152

After reading this paragraph one participant chimed in, “Looks like the “F” word in church should be fun!” How sad and true. For many the church is like the NFL – the No Fun League. God the Father's been relegated to the role of a grumpy old ref who has nothing better to do that eagerly search out infractions and administer punishments. What a gross misrepresentation of the truth.

Our Heavenly Father invented “Name It and Claim It.” He speaks and expects what He says will come to pass. Psalm 32.7 states that God will, “surround us with songs of deliverance,” not gloom and doom.
Zephaniah 3:17 elaborates on this. He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”

The word rejoice in Hebrew means to spin around (under the influence of any violent emotion), be glad, be joyful, and to dance. God dances over us with singing – so much for Grouchy God.

Much ado was made over the laughter that broke out during Rodney Howard-Browne's revival meetings. Imagine, people laughing hysterically in church – sacrilege! For many who attended, their merry hearts did them more good than any medication.

I'm not advocating throwing the baby out with the bath water. There is a proper place for quiet and reverence, but not to the exclusion of God's mirth spilling over and touching people. It's time for the church to let the “F” word be the original, unmentionable, not-fit-for-use in any company word and allow fun back, in it's rightful place, within the four walls. Our Father God knows how to have a good time. Shouldn't we?

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