I remember sitting on wooden pews in church as a child – without cushions, carpets, or P.A. systems. God was just as near, Jesus as precious, and salvation as sweet without all of our modern comforts.
People came to church for different reasons then, as they do now. Back then people came because they truly wanted to be saved and serve God. Young men came to get a look and see if there were any pretty “good girls.” Young women came, sometimes hoping that a good-looking boy would show up searching for her and have a true salvation experience. Church was a center of the community where whole families came into the house of God to worship Him and to learn about him. It was also a place where the Word of God was taken for the truth, and the standard by which Christians were to frame their lives.
Church these days may still have those qualities, but often it is a place for “social networking.” Young people try it out because they are bored with what they already have and are looking for something new. Families come because they need all the help they can get trying to stay together. But many churches have dummied down. They’ve whitewashed sin and watered down the Word of God so they can be more socially acceptable and be seen as politically correct and tolerant.
The truth of the Bible is still there. The Word of God hasn’t changed, even if man’s interpretation has. The presence of God is still awesome, even though most churches don’t expect Him to show up. The Power of God is still life changing, even though many Christians fear any power that is greater than their own will. The gift of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, is still the avenue of salvation. The message of God’s love still transforms lives.
Sometimes I think the modern church has forgotten what Matthew 18:20 is really saying. “If two or three are gathered together in MY NAME, there I am in the midst of them.” Church is where we gather in His name – whether on dirt floors, wooden pews, in the jungle, or in glass cathedrals.
I am as spoiled as the next person with air conditioning, technology, and padded seats, but there is a big part of me that truly misses the days of wooden pews and “that old time religion.”