No Time for Playing Church
“Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof:
from such turn away.”
(II Timothy 3:5)
* * * * *
Prophet Malcolm reached out and held his wife’s hand as they strolled around their neighborhood doing a prayer walk for the residents in that area. He squeezed her hand affectionately, thankful to have a prayer partner for life. She rewarded him with a loving smile.
“Sadie, I’m concerned about Bishop Akron and his family. The last few Sundays that we have fellowshipped he made mention of his wife but in a negative way. Just this last time we spoke, he said she was in the mix of gossiping women in the church. In fact, he said she was leading the pack. He also said, and I quote him, ‘I sincerely believe many of the women would keep quiet if she would.’”
Sadie shook her head. She had come to love Bishop Akron and his wife and family like her own.
“The previous time he mentioned her he said she had an uncontrollable tongue and she had a problem submitting to him. I asked him if he would like for you to talk with her, but he said no, he had it under control.”
“That does not sound like a man who has it under control,” Sadie said. “Do you think there might be some domestic abuse? Having it under control might mean he’s using force behind closed doors to put her in her place, and her response is to rebel further in public.”
“No. I don’t think so. Without any fear of successful contradiction, I would say that thought has never even entered his mind. I just don’t see that in him. I knew his father and mother and their home life very well, and I even knew some of their relatives and that is just not the type of family he comes from. In fact, he often uses the phrase ‘Sometimes I don’t say anything to keep the peace.’ So that lets me know that he will more often give in rather than fight and stand his ground. I believe she wins most of the arguments and disagreements they have.”
“I’m more than willing to talk with her, but I’ll just pray for her until either he asks me to step in, or I feel led of the Lord to just call her up and find out what’s going on. I know how to use a woman’s tact to get her to open up,” Sadie said.
“And I know how to use prayer to get God to open up the windows of Heaven and let it rain,” Prophet Malcolm said with a chuckle. “Most holy Father God, out of obedience to Your Word to intercede and to pray for others, we do bring before You this our neighborhood, Royal Oaks Community. We pray for the salvation of everyone in this neighborhood and in the world as a whole. Lord, we pray for house number 1223, house number 1225 . . .”
* * * * *
“Well, Prophet Malcolm, did you rock the church today?” Bishop Akron asked on Sunday after he settled down in his easy chair for their regular Sunday chat.
“I sure did, Bishop. I rocked it so hard I am sure some of my most reserved people became unglued from their seats – their living room couch, or kitchen chair, or from wherever they are listening to me,” Prophet Malcolm laughed. “I mean the Spirit was moving today for sure.”
“What you preach on?”
“Playing church. I am so sick and tired of people playing church. They come in with their pomp and pride, having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof,” the Prophet said.
“What do you mean, Prophet?”
“I watch my members. This was before the plague lockdown and we chose to shut our doors. I still watch them using the discernment God has given me. I look deep below the surface. I know most of them don’t live a holy life during the week. They don’t pray and read God’s Word throughout the week as they should and so they leave themselves open for the devil to do a Mohammed Ali hit on them all week long; then they drag in to church on Sunday morning for me to raise them up from the dead and get them back on fire, but for what? To throw them right back out there for the devil to do a rope-a-dope on them again. Then they come back the next Sunday saying, ‘Feed me, Preacha, feed me! Pump me up, Preacha, pump me up!’ It’s a never ending cycle. I say time out for that mess!”
Bishop Akron was laughing so hard it took him a few minutes to pull himself together.
“And if you listen to them as they walk out the door you wonder why in the world do they waste time coming to church if they are not going to listen to the sermon being preached and take heed to it,” Prophet Malcolm said.
Bishop Akron had overheard some of that kind of talk after church, but it just fed into his ego Sunday after Sunday; hence, one of the reasons why he did not close the church doors entirely and go fully virtual after the pandemic hit:
“Didn’t Bishop preach today!”
“He sure did.”
“I tell you, that choir director sure did have that choir rockin’ today. He was just a movin’ and kept them a movin’.”
“He sure did. I could not contain myself. I had to get up out of my seat and do a little rockin’ myself.”
“And that piano player? He outdid himself. I’m so glad Bishop got him and got rid of the one we had before him. This one just dances his fingers over the piano keys. It doesn’t even look like he’s touching the keys. Unreal giftedness.”
“Yes, chile. For real. He got him some soul.”
“What Bishop preach on again?”
“I can’t think of it right now, but he sure did preach.”
“Bishop, you sure did preach today,” the congregants would say as they shook his hand on their way out the door.
“I had one preacher friend of mine to tell me in one of our conversations that while growing up he felt for sure his family magically turned into the black Brady Bunch family on Sunday mornings only,” Prophet Malcolm said.
“Why is that?”
“He said throughout the week his family lived like the devil. He and his siblings did only God-knows-what, taking off whenever they wanted to, their parents having not an inkling of an idea where they were or what devilment they were up to. Meanwhile, his parents did nothing but argue all week long and both of them claimed to be preachers. His daddy was the pastor of the church and the marquee reading had his mother as the co-pastor even though everyone knew that she was really the lead pastor as she called the shots not only in the home but also at the church,” Prophet Malcolm said. “My preacher friend went on to tell me that it seemed like all hell was let loose late Sunday night and throughout the week until late Saturday. All week long nothing but disturbance and confusion in the family even on the ride out to the church house on Sunday morning. But as they pulled up into the church parking lot it was ‘Put a smile on your faces now, children. Greet everybody with a smile.’ In other words, act like the Brady Bunch now. He said that left a sick feeling in his stomach to see all that hypocrisy.”
Bishop Akron listened closely. He could identify with what the Prophet was saying. He and his wife had many of their brawls on the weekends and especially on Saturdays. His children’s behavior was up and down like the waves of the sea. But come Sunday morning they were all smiles as they greeted the church members, totally ignoring each other while at the church as they did throughout the week in the house. He used to tell his wife and children, “Now, show some maturity and don’t go in there with your angry self. You don’t need to bring that on the church members.” His wife’s response was always a snappish one: “You don’t have to worry about me, mister. I always act mature with the church family. I only act immature when around immature people like you.”
“And this is not only happening in lay Christians’ homes; this is happening in thousands of pastors’ homes and other church leaders’ homes all across this nation, and that’s a crying shame,” Prophet Malcolm said.
“That is why so many of our children who grew up in Christian homes, be it a pastor’s home or not, leave the church never to return. Can you blame them? Can you really and truly blame them? They see the hypocrisy in their parents, in the pastor, and in other professing Christians in the church. Their mentality is: if this Christianity is not working for you or for the family why should I even give it a try?”