All the noise of churchianity

10 03 2012

We are not certain exactly what time it was but we were woken from deep sleep with a terrible noise.  We are fairly used to loud parties from the hotel nearby, and are grateful when Umeme deigns to give us power as we put the fan on to keep the potent bass beats to a minimum volume.

There was no power last night but we did not hear overpowering sounds (unusual for a Friday night!) and fell asleep in some peace. 

Then the crazy sounds that woke us sometime in the middle of the night: loud electric piano beats, distorted through poor PA systems.(It sounded like they had set up just outside our bedroom window it was SO loud!)   And the shouting.  It was very difficult to call this singing – it was yelling, screaming out lines, and kept my heart from feeling sweet, peaceful and pleasant.  Then we heard the ‘hallelujah’s,  ‘Oh, Jesus!’ and other church clichés.  We had no other thought except: in the middle of the night? Seriously?

When we spoke with a neighbour about the incident she said that a pastor in the area had been beaten up by some people who were upset at the noises we often heard from the church at 5 in the morning – so even local people feel resentment at this method of evangelisation.  I was wondering how effective it would be to wake people from sleep with strong messages of salvation.  I highly doubt that this is a successful way of proselytizing.

Loud church is common here.  I avoid going to the supermarket at lunch time if I can: nearby  there is a lunch hour revival meeting everyday and over a very harsh sounding distorted PA the screams of preaching are heard.  A common sight in Kampala, and sometimes here in Mbale too, is street preachers.  They situate themselves on busy intersections or near markets and yell out for all stuck in traffic, or passing by and their throats can only ache at night after a day of screaming out the Gospel. 

Religion here is a noisy business.  Africa is noisy, and one expects a fair amount of excitement and movement at a church service. 

But while I was lying awake rumbling in discontent at being woken in this rude way I got to wondering about how effective this type of witness is.  So early in the morning it only seemed brash and arousing resentment.  I know we are to praise God at every hour, but enough damage has been done to Christianity by Christians that early morning calls to worship engender no sympathy.

And the real issue that struck me is how much of the work of the Holy Spirit is allowed through the noise.  Abrasive personalities and actions do not convey the actions of the Holy Spirit, so often compared to a dove.

The Hebrew for Holy Spirit , ruach (haKodesh), is the same meaning as the Zulu word : umoya.  Air.  Air does sometimes make a noise on rough windy nights, but far more often the work of air is known by the effect it has afterwards, not by the noise it makes while there. 

And I was reminded of Ezekiel’s seeking of God: he searched in the big storms, in the waterfalls and God was not there.  God speaks in quiet whispers far more than He speaks in audibly loud shouts. 

Between all the noises of superficial churchianity is there really room for the work of the Holy Spirit to speak into people’s lives? Is there opportunity for a REAL meeting with God, whose Spirit changes lives so that the work is seen in their actions, rather than the garble of loud noises where little life change is seen?

 

Please continue to pray for this “Christian” nation.  Here we hear the words, hear lots of religion bandied about, but “Christians” seldom display changed hearts.  There are loads of examples I could name of personal experiences, so I remain general in my references because they are so real to this place.

There is a need for training to be true disciples of Christ, not followers of religion.

And far less noise and more LISTENING to the voice of the gentle Spirit of God and obedience to His calls for living effectively.

And please, no loud revival meetings starting around midnight.

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