He was the Bishop of the local churches and also Chairman of a charitable organization of which I was a board member. Pompous and plump, he quite enjoyed chairing the meeting, especially after the general secretary had fallen sick and he had the attention of everybody. We discussed matters at hand, then broke for lunch. “Bishop,“ I asked, as I sat at his table. “How many churches do you have under you?”
“Hundreds!” he said.
“And how many people attend those churches?”
He looked at me uneasily, then looked away.
I had seen this in Europe in all my trips there: Empty churches as a generation of youngsters shied away from the ritualistic worship offered. The churches were like museums, were you went round silently looking at all the statues of ancient priests and saints, as dead as the church.
I remember once when a statue moved, I nearly screamed then realized it wasn’t a statue it was a priest standing silently, looking dismally at his empty church. “Not much of your flock here father?” I asked, but he didn’t reply and continued staring at me silently.
Why are our churches empty?
Many reasons, but the chief among them; the youngsters of today are fed up with the hypocrisy of rituals with no meaning. Not for them just the ringing of bells, lighting of candles and heavy smell of incense; they want more! And that more is simplicity!
It’s time we made God simple! Because God is simple. So simple we can’t believe in that simplicity and prefer the very pomp and trappings Jesus came down to throw out.
He doesn’t want huge lofty churches, he wants your hearts, dirty as they are so He can make it clean. It’s that simple, but unfortunately there’s a part of us which keeps making the simple unnecessarily difficult, because then and only then is it believable, we think.
When I see the palaces and castles of old, I realize how important it was for kings and emperors to show their power through huge stone statues, exotic wood carvings, high ceilings and lofty ramparts.
This was to make people feel small before the king.
God doesn’t need you to feel small.
One should feel His awesomeness but should know that this is not to frighten us into submission. That same awesome God loved us enough to have sent His son to die, so he could live in us.
In other words, God became simple to a simple man by becoming a man himself.
I looked at the Bishop. He had got what he wanted on earth; position and power, but unfortunately both had nothing to do with the God he was supposed to serve..!
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