He had done everything right. He did everything he was told. He was dutiful, and thoughtful, and slow to react. He always considered the implications of his actions.
But yet, the closeness he desired never arrived. Rather than trying to get personal with God he stayed at a distance. His preference was going through the quotidian exercises of his religion.
He was a nice guy, always helping others, and quiet—carrying on in a relaxed and measured way, looking people in the eye with the hint of a smile, as if his job was to serve whoever may come before him. He enjoyed such actions, things someone else might call ministry, but it was just part of his life.
He wondered about God often—who He was, what He was like. He had been given answers as a child that God was essentially unknowable and far away. As a result his wonder never blossomed into an outright search, because he had far too much respect for his family and local church, especially the well-respected ministers he had been associated with.
Of course, that is a very loose term. Most churchgoers are not associated with their ministers. They are people seen once a week for an hour or two while attending to their profession. There may be a mini-chat every so often after services or a low-key counseling session. It is the same with most church members. Though rubbing shoulders with many, they deal mainly with simple surface relationships and remain distant from each other’s heart.
One may wonder why there is so much passivity within traditional Christianity. Very few ever buck any trends. There are certainly never any instances of someone like the Lord cleaning out the temple. Is this because everyone thinks their own church needs no cleaning out? Are the majority of churches in America clean and orderly and right with God? Do they teach Biblical truth and demand loyalty to the Lord Jesus and New Testament teachings?
Or are churches actually corrupt in that quiet passive way? Is the fact that most church-goers sit down in orderly pews and chairs without ever raising an eyebrow a sign that all is perfect and well? Does the man in the pulpit have it so together that there is never a discouraging word regarding that which he preaches? Are American churches doing their job?
This must be the case, right? It must be that such perfect order proves all is right and that God is pleased.
But how do they know this? If God remains unknown, how do the people know He is pleased? Does church order reflect godliness in this sense?
Whoever thinks this is true does not read the Bible and certainly not the New Testament.
“Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to SET A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER, AND A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW; and A MAN’S ENEMIES WILL BE THE MEMBERS OF HIS HOUSEHOLD. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.” [Matthew 10:32-39]
Have you ever heard this passage of Scripture as part of a Sunday morning sermon?
How about this one:
Then some Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, “Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.” And He answered and said to them, “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?” [Matthew 15:1-3]
And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’ Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.” He was also saying to them, “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.” [Mark 7:6-9]
What would happen if the Lord Jesus came to your church? Would he see it as everyone there sees it? Would He simply go along to get along? Would He never say a word or mention the things going on there that don’t line up with His teachings? Would He simply love everybody and tell one and all to keep on keeping on?
He went to seven churches as recorded in the Book of Revelation and was none too pleased with the vast majority. Remember, these were His people gathered in His name supposedly doing what He taught them. At least, that is what they claimed. He had some good things to say but He also railed against them and demanded they get their act together. I submit that most American churches are worse off, and the reason there is so little change for the better is because the Lord Jesus is not welcome. The sinful culture of this country has taken over most traditional churches, regardless of denomination.
Believe me, if He ever did show up in the greatness of His power, all would know it.
“But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent.” [Revelation 2:4-5]
“Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” [Revelation 2:10]
“But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality. So you also have some who in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Therefore repent; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of My mouth.” [Revelation 2:14-16]
“But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her immorality. Behold, I will throw her on a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds. And I will kill her children with pestilence, and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds.” [Revelation 2:20-23]
“I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.” [Revelation 3:1-3]
“Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown.” [Revelation 3:10-11]
“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. Because 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 so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.” [Revelation 3:14-19] 
© 2011 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
 Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.