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Tuesday, October 19, 2010
On my visit to Boston many years ago, actually, I believe it was 1982; I visited many of the old churches in the downtown area. I was totally fascinated by the pews of some of these beautiful old, stately churches. At the ends of each pew (which these pews were very, very long), were small gates, so when anyone entered into the pews they were locked into place. Then, on the corresponding walls, hung very long, wooden poles, much like pool sticks only much longer, but this was no pool game.
Some hand-picked parishioner, usually a churlish-faced, Amish-type person, who looked more warden-like than an angelic being sitting on a cloud, would summarily jab the offending person(s), with the poles, if they nodded off or if they were found daydreaming during the sermons. And sometimes these sermons lasted for hours upon hours. Imagine sitting there, on hard pews, with no air conditioning, suffocating under layers of cumbersome clothing, locked into place like a crash test dummy, listening to a sermon much like the sermon given by Jonathan Edwards, “Sinners in The Hands of An Angry God.”
Which brings me to wonder, do we have a shallow repentance because we have shallow sermons? Do we need the shock value of sermons like this, and hard wooden pews that force a posture of attentiveness to create in us a deep well of repentance? Are our sermons lackluster, causing us to cozy up to sin too much, do we need the hard-edged-truth more often to keep us vigilant and acutely aware of the God dishonoring sin in our lives? Maybe more often than not we need to be pricked in our hearts, convicted in our souls, admonished by our brothers and sisters, and summarily jabbed with a pole, straight to the head, because life is not a game of pool. It is serious business, and our repentance should be one of deep, Godly sorrow, and never taken lightly.
"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places (Eph 6:12).