Thursday, January 5, 2023

Hannah Montana Preachers

Suggested Reading: Ezekiel 33:23-33

One of the drawbacks of having a young daughter is that you watch far more Disney programming than you would like. Every now and then, though, you do find something valuable. In the Hannah Montana movie from a few years ago, the action gets started with the pop star in a fight with Tyra Banks over a pair of shoes. Naturally there are photographs that end up on the front pages of all the papers. While the young girl's father is mortified at his daughter's behavior, her agent thinks the publicity is great. Her father wants her to behave like a lady and be a role model. Her agent just wants her to be famous.

Hannah Montana's agent probably would have been thrilled with the way people responded to Ezekiel. In Ezekiel 33:30-32 the Lord tells the prophet, “Now, son of man, your people are talking about you near the city walls and in the doorways of their houses. One person speaks to another, each saying to his brother, ‘Come and hear what the message is that comes from the Lord! ’ So My people come to you in crowds, sit in front of you, and hear your words, but they don’t obey them. Although they express love with their mouths, their hearts pursue dishonest profit. Yes, to them you are like a singer of love songs who has a beautiful voice and plays skillfully on an instrument. They hear your words, but they don’t obey them."

Ezekiel had what a lot of people, maybe even a lot of preachers, want today. Ezekiel was famous. People talked about him, scheduled times to go and listen to him, and talked about how wonderful he was. But for most of them,  the prophet was just a form of entertainment. God was more concerned with the people's obedience to Ezekiel than their adoration of him.

Unfortunately, many people today treat times of worship and preaching as entertainment rather than as something that is supposed to change us. Church services and times of worship were never supposed to be entertainment, switching from one venue to the next because the music was better or the speaker more charismatic; nor were preachers supposed to be celebrities. Times of worship are supposed to change us, to cause us to evaluate our attitudes and behaviors and equip us to live more Christ-like lives. Preachers are supposed to be people who speak the unpopular truths that we need to hear so that we can make those changes.

Why do you go to church or even listen to Christian music? Is it just to be entertained or to find the tools to live more like Christ? If you are a minister, do you make decisions based on what will bring you more listeners or do you speak the unpopular truths that need to be heard? Times of worship are far too valuable to be reduced to entertainment.

Only Casting Out the Annoying Demons

Suggested Reading: Acts 16:16-34 There is a sentence in Acts 16 that has always bugged me. Paul and Silas were in Philippi as missionari...