Summary: This passage shares that God's prophet was banned from God's house. What are some ways that we do similar things?
NOT WELCOME: Am I slamming the door of God’s house in God’s face?
- Can you imagine a visitor walking up to the church door on a sunny fall morning and having one of our greeters slam the door in their face and lock it from the inside? That would loudly and clearly let the visitor know that he was not welcome here. And we’d quickly fire that greeter!
- Let’s take it up a notch. Can you imagine Jesus walking up to that same door and having one of our greeters slam the door in His face? Heresy! And yet there is the danger of doing something like that.
- Verse 5 shares an arresting image: the prophet of God was banned from the house of God.
- Can you imagine that? The main prophet of the Lord restricted from going into the temple of God. That’s the point Judah had descended to – the leaders did not want to hear from God. In fact, we have the king literally slicing up the words from God later in the chapter.
- We presume that God is always welcome in the house of God, but that’s just not true.
- There’s the song that proclaims “Holy Spirit You are welcome here” but that’s not always true.
- Sometimes the people of God don’t want the presence of God in the house of God. That may strike you as impossible, but this verse reminds us that it happens.
- Of course, ultimately God is everywhere and so there is no way to keep Him out of the sanctuary. What I am referring to here is whether we desire Him to be present, whether we welcome what He has to say, whether we want Him.
- Truth is that often we do not.
- This may be hard for you to imagine, so let’s look at some examples.
HOW MIGHT WE DO THAT?
1. The wrong people are starting to attend.
- It could happen in a number of ways:
a. Maybe the new people are poorer than the established congregation.
b. Maybe the new people come from a more Pentecostal background.
c. Maybe the new people are of a different race or nationality.
d. Maybe the new people aren’t “church-broken” and don’t know the “right way” to act in church.
e. Maybe the new people are young people from the wrong side of the tracks.
- It could be these or other examples. But new people come sincerely seeking the Lord. They’re not trying to take over; they’re not intentionally being disruptive. They’re just showing up and trying to learn about the Lord. But they are different from the established congregation and it begins to create problems.
- Rarely are the people approached and directly asked to leave. Usually, new rules are put in place that make it clear that the new people aren’t welcome as is. The rules don’t name the group, but they don’t have to. They can connect the dots.
- The tragedy is that some people who were seeking the Lord are sent away and made to believe that church is not for them.
- When we think about Jesus saying in the gospels that He identifies with “the least and the lost,” there is a very real sense in which rejecting those who aren’t like us is rejecting Christ.
2. The church’s comfort zone is challenged.
- There are a number of ways this could manifest itself, but let’s consider evangelism.
- A new pastor comes into the picture who has a passion for the lost. He pushes the church to be more evangelistic. He pushes the individual Christians to be more evangelistic. He talks regularly about the obligation of each Christian to be ready to give an answer when asked. He preaches on the necessity of having a prayer burden for those we love who are lost. He starts a Thursday evening visitation program to go talk to the lost. And after a couple years of that, the church votes to not renew his contract for a third year.
- Sure, they’d always known that evangelism was important and that lost people matter to God, but all of that outreach emphasis was wearing thin. It disrupted the comfort zone that the church had enjoyed. Yes, they wanted some people saved and liked having some baptisms, but were not ready to think about it all the time. They definitely weren’t ready to be burdened about it.
- And so they got rid of the “problem.”
- And in so doing, they slammed the door in God’s face.
3. Preaching against sin, but the wrong ones.
- Most Baptists take pride in the fact that they like “hard preaching.” They don’t want to be soft “like those liberal Christians” but want a preaching who isn’t afraid to boldly speak the truth.