Anything that enters our lives [whether food, thoughts, teaching, experience] that is contrary to the Holy Scriptures is garbage — whatever is contrary to God’s law. We must recognize garbage. We must judge it as to what it really is and what it does to us. Anything contrary to God’s law pollutes the purity of our being — even religion... So we see the Professional Pew Sitter...
He holds punctuality records for being in the same spot at the same time every Sunday morning. He follows the accepted code of conduct. He is well-groomed, well-dressed. He rises when he is told. He prays when he is told. He puts his change in the collection plate when he is told. He leaves when he is told, but there is no change in him, no stimulation. There is no challenge and no radical view of life that corresponds to that of the word of God, no movement toward the Kingdom of God. He is leveled to the leveled norm. He is a slave to ROTE... He smells a rat. He goes home and sets his mouse trap, but he has no cheese. He does have a picture of some cheese. So he clips the picture from the magazine and baits the trap with that. The next morning he comes down and there he finds in the trap a picture of a rat. So every week he is told that he gets out of church what he puts in... and so it goes, Christianity today... rote is garbage. If he would have taken out the garbage he wouldn’t be having all this trouble with the rat anyway...
Rote... It’s like a husband who turns to his wife and says, “Honey, it is my duty to tell you that I love you. So, ‘I love you.’ “ Only an outpouring of instinctive, natural, spontaneous love is what a spouse responds to. And so it is also what we respond to from our Heavenly Lover, and it is what He responds to. Anything done out of duty is devoid of life. Anything not done from passion is merely rote.
If you recognize yourself coming home from the church of Laodicea, recorded in Revelation 3:15-20, there is hope you may be able to repent if you see the garbage and hate it.
I know your doings. You are neither hot nor cold. I wish you were either hot or cold. Because you are lukewarm I am going to spew you out of my mouth. For you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire, that you may become rich, and white garments, that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed, and eye salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; be zealous, therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him and he with Me. He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. (Revelation 3:15-20)
The very reason and purpose for our existence has been negated by the dead system, the assembly of the dead. No matter what you put into it, it is still like getting back a picture of the rat as a result. The rat is in the house and you know it. But you don’t have any cheese and you know it. The very reason and purpose of our existence is to kill the rat. The Church is God’s instrument to subdue His enemies. “Till all His enemies are made a footstool for His feet.”1 You have a trap but no cheese.
Whatever you do in rote, the result of your effort is just rote. No wonder the “church buildings” today are filled with “self-satisfied solitude.” Somehow they have finally settled for a picture of the rat because all they have is a picture of the cheese.
So what we want to ask Christianity is the one question which is like the question so often asked: “Where’s the cheese?”
The rat is still loose, you hear it in the kitchen pantry at night and you haven’t the faintest idea what to do about it. Your picture of the cheese is being taken away every night and replaced by a picture of the rat. But the rat lives on. So if you don’t have any cheese and no one else in your “church” has any — why do you sing on? What do you have to sing about? “We get back what we put into it,” they say. But if we don’t have anything to put into it except rote, why do you stay there? One reason is that you are the one trapped by the rat. He has you there putting the picture of cheese on the trap while he simply replaces it by a picture of himself. Somehow you think it is all right — “We’ve been doing it for years. That is all there is to it. That is just how it is, I suppose.” So you go on being trapped, with no real solutions to your many problems. You try to convince yourself that you are overcoming your loneliness, anger, depression, guilt, worry, greed and selfishness. You cannot honestly admit that you are overcoming these things with a mere picture of cheese, that all you have is a picture... You somehow know in the back of your mind that it’s all futile, but you go on in the ritual — oh, how long, how long, how long will it go on?
Every Sunday morning you file into the “local church” as someone has deceived you into calling it. You start obeying your leader. You have been made to believe somehow that Hebrews 13:7 (obey your leaders) is being lived out by your performance here. You relate this obedience to that spoken of in 1 John 2:4-6. Since you obey your leader’s commands, you are obeying the Lord’s commandments, and in this you are somehow following Messiah as spoken of in Matthew 16:24. So you file in to take your familiar seat. You don’t feel comfortable if someone else gets it before you and you have to sit elsewhere. Somehow you are secretly irritated by this, but you trudge on, denying yourself of your own security and comfort for the sake of your brother. You thus see yourself fulfilling 1 John 3:14,16. You know you have passed out of death and into life. You convince yourself of this, holding back resentment because he got your seat that you have sat in for the last 25 years. So you take another seat as close as possible to your comfortable secure corner of the congregation. You begin your obedience to your leaders by responding when he asks you to rise. Then you obey still further when they ask you to sing, then pray, then read responsively. Then the supreme obedience — the time has come to worship with your tithes and offerings. You flip a Five into the plate as it goes by. Then you finally leave the building when you are told to. You go home promptly at 12 and settle down to a good afternoon of your favorite sport. You put your picture of cheese on the trap. You feel good that you have fulfilled the great commission by giving your five dollars to send those who have suffered in Bible college four to six years to be prepared to go to the foreign mission fields. “Well, someone has to work to give to support those missionaries. After all, I didn’t go to Seminary, and who would build the bridges anyway if everyone went off to be a missionary? My ministry is to give support. This is my way of fulfilling the great commission — so I am told.”
“So I can settle down in my own easy chair and watch the Red Sox or... what’s on the other channel anyway?”
“Whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap.” If one sows a picture of cheese, he will reap a picture of a rat. Whatever he puts in that is what he will get out. It is a divine law. Christianity today is a living example of the working of this divine law. They are reaping what they have sown — as all nations today will reap. They will pay every jot and tittle even as the Christian Church today is paying. The law “we will reap what we sow” is exacting and will be worked out in absolute justice.
Somewhere you smell a rat!!