July 9, 2012 - God

On a recent trip to Uganda, I was introduced to an increasingly popular phenomenon.

That is—a trend of radio programming completely in English, geared to the elite and learned of society.

One of the most unique aspects of this Sunday morning program was the topic—attending church in modern-day society.

The argument made was that church is the gathering of two or more people worshiping God. Therefore, not only was it not necessary to attend church on Sunday, it was hypocritical to do so—even anti-scriptural. The purpose of the discussion was clear–don’t go to church.

People were encouraged to skip church, and spend time at home worshiping God instead.

Here are some of the reasons given:

  • The Bible doesn’t say we have to attend church. It just says we are not to forsake the gathering together of the saints. Their argument is that we gather all the time, so what’s the big deal about Sunday morning.
  • More people skip church than go to church, and there is strength in numbers.
  • The church is full of hypocrites.
  • The church breeds hypocrites.
  • Hypocrites are mostly Western, and even though many Ugandans like Western culture, Western church is bad. That opinion is based on the concept that mega-churches are greedy. A large church can’t survive if people stay home. They need to attend and put money in the plate.
  • Most prominent and influential Americans don’t feel the need to attend church on Sundays, or any other day for that matter.

Examples cited were:

  • Justin Bieber—quoted that he did not have to attend church because he worshiped God in his own way, focusing more on talking to God than going to church.
  • Lady Gaga—indicating that people are never to go to church. She states that her “religious” concerts are a more appropriate pop-culture church for modern day, and that institutional religion is responsible for most of society’s woes, including teen suicide and bullying.

The views of popular American icons, especially since we started calling them idols, are shaping the religious views of foreign cultures whether we like it or not.

Justin Bieber is 18 years old, and he is representing what other nations perceive as American views on religion? Well, like it or not—it’s true.

I have nothing against Bieber—if one wants to follow him and call him their idol, that’s their business. But he does not represent my views on God, religion, or anything else.

If you feel that I am being too harsh, keep in mind that when an individual is in a position of celebrity authority—what he/she says and represents is open to criticism because is affects us all.

The fact is that he and celebrities like Lady Gaga are influencing what others believe—especially those who use the U.S. as their point of reference, and pop-culture figures as their moral compass.

What does this mean for us? What are we supposed to do to make a difference? These are important questions.

How we represent our beliefs is critical—there is always someone watching. Do they see us following the popular, or basing our views on Scripture?

We have a choice to make—will we be the ones to shape the future, or should we leave it up to Justin and Gaga?

By the way, Jesus’ name was never mentioned on the program, just Justin’s.