The modern versions of the Bible use the word awesome where the King James Version uses the word dreadful, and the old rendering gives a better sense, in a sense, because the majesty of God is indeed a dreadfully awesome thing. Think of Isaiah 6, or the many angelic encounters we see recorded in scripture. When faced with the hosts of heaven, men fall to their knees in worship, reverence, or just plain fear, and probably a combination of all three.
However, in our churches today, we have replaced the majesty of God for the marvels of the world. We have all the latest technology, sound equipment, you name it, we are as state-of-the-art as any amusement park out there, in some respects, and certainly as powerful as any theater, in many cases. Now using technology and visual, audio, etc. is not in itself a bad thing, only if it distracts from the real reasons we are to be at church. Too many have been blindsided by the spectacle and not awed by the holiness, the otherworldliness, and instead have met only the majesty of the worldliness we can muster up. Today many could be in the presence of God but like Jacob they would not know it (vs.16). We have taken things that the world would call “awesome” and have Christianized or baptized them into sanctity. But they are merely spectacular in a worldly sense. They would say “awesome” to its worldly counterpart as well.
So what is the net effect? They liked the experience but they could get that anywhere. They didn’t experience God they had a sensory overload, a soulish delight, not a spiritual awakening or enlightenment. What we need is not bigger and better versions of the world’s diversions we need something that the world cannot duplicate. We need the honest to goodness real thing, the presence of God in our midst. A holy fear of God among us is the fruit of such an encounter, and the response not “wow how cool was that” but “wow what a fool I’ve been”.
It is a matter of emphasis and priority. The emphasis is on entertainment instead of ministry. The priority is on the fun of fellowship instead of the exhortation and encouragement. Hebrews 10:24 says we are to stir each other up to love and good works in the assembly, not stir ourselves up to laughter and enjoyment as our key to building each other up. Instead of just accepting the world’s culture we need to line them up, learn them up, and lift them up (1 Thessalonians 5:14).
When we have special events that aren’t as focused on the proclamation of the Word, these things are not necessarily bad. But ask yourself why we have more people attend, especially those people who don’t normally “do church”? Of course some naïve minister or immature congregant will tell you, “Oh we should do this all the time, we get people who otherwise wouldn’t be here”. That is the point, they will come if it is entertaining, but if it is seeking God’s face in worship they want no part of it. They want a safe place but not a sanctified one. They act Christian without conviction. They can praise but they can’t truly worship.
We think that we can play the worlds songs with just a little Christian tuning up and things will be all right. It seems to work, doesn’t it? Well, we think that just because we get them coming to us, just because we get them moving with us, and just because they begin to act like us that we have converted them, but only God converts, friend. They may be active with their flesh but in their spirits they are still dead men. You see, we could even have them dancing in the aisles, but when the tune is on the same frequency as the world, even dead men can dance.