The Preacher stood behind the pulpit in the old Congregational Church and looked out upon 120 members who sat expectantly upon the worn and polished wooden pews. The ten o’clock sunlight poured through the old stained glass windows and gave it a sense of cheerfulness! This was his first time that he would be ministering this church and he was, of course, excited and somewhat nervous.
As he waited for the organ to finish playing, he wondered if this was the right thing to do, standing here and teaching the people the Bible. After all, hardly a mainstream church could be considered nowadays to be Christian other than the external trappings and the historical connections. Most of the men and women he’d studied with in Seminary didn’t take the Bible too seriously and considered it to be out of date and archaic. However, he didn’t think so, and he’d felt that is was more important today than ever that the Words of God should be heard within the old churches once again.
So as he stood there, he felt alone and not sure anymore if he was doing the right thing by being here. The people were friendly enough and welcomed him with open arms, but he knew that they would not like how he preached. When he’d applied six months ago, he had to go through a screening process along aside of two other men and one woman who was a professing lesbian. He had been certain that rejection would be forthcoming because he did not fit the mold of a liberal preacher but to his surprise had been invited back on three different occasions to hold a sermon and then three weeks ago had been notified by the committee that he’d been accepted!
So there he was, standing behind the large and ornamented pulpit, a ceremonial Bible lay open before him and the weight of six years of hard studying sitting upon his shoulders and the eyes of 120 people fixed upon him. The organ ceased playing, and silence fell upon the great room, and he began to speak;
“My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord, I welcome you this morning to our Christian services and would like to introduce myself as your new Minister formally. My name is Abraham Prescott. I’m 32 years of age, single with no wife in view, (a series of chuckles were to be heard) and it is an honor to have been chosen to serve you.”(Nodding heads in agreement)
As he looked around at the people, they mostly seemed to be middle-aged to elderly and only a few in their late twenties or mid-thirties. There were, however, four or five families with small children, so there was hope for future growth!
He continued; “Today I felt that it would be appropriate to speak of the Ten Commandments, especially in light of what is taking place in today’s society. So if I may encourage you to open your Bibles, if you have one with you, and please turn to the Book of Exodus or also known as the Second Book of Moses, chapter 20.”
Ho noticed that most of them didn’t have Bibles and were slightly squirming and looking a little off to the sides while others just sat ramrod straight and waited. But the couples with the children did have Bibles and were opening them.
He began to read; “I am the Lord your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.” He paused for a moment to let that settle in their heads and then continued.
“We have many gods that we place before us instead of the One God of the Bible. We have gods of technology, of philosophy, and of intellect. We have gods to serve our passions and desires, and if we’re lacking, then we just make new ones up.” They were looking somewhat doubtful as to where this was leading to!
“Many people have also turned away from the One true God and have attached themselves to various religions and their gods, although we can read here that it is forbidden to do so. The question is this; If we call ourselves Christians, then shouldn’t we be obedient to His commandments?”
Now he could see a visible response among the people. Some were looking a little uncomfortable and others were glancing at the ones sitting nearby, but the families seemed to take a keen interest as well as others, and so he continued.
“To have no other gods before Him leaves no room for interpretation nor compromise and to do so actually shows us to be in a state of sin or rebellion to the One true God. And if this is our course of action then why would we call ourselves Christians when our works reveal us not to be walking in the truth?”
The people were silent but for the different facial expressions which ran from slightly amused to questionable to openly astonished that he would speak in such a manner! There were even a few that seemed to be harboring hostile intentions with dark looks and several that quietly shook their heads in disagreement.
“I would ask you this,” he continued, “how many of you have a statue of Budda on your lawns or in your homes? Does it not represent a god from another religion? A god that is not our God, and if so, what is it doing there? When you allow that, then you have broken the very first commandment which expressly forbids you from putting any gods before Him! On my drives through this town and on the backroads, I have seen plenty of those in front of people’s houses, but I say to you, brethren, this should not be! You dishonor God when you place other gods before Him, and as a result, we incur His disfavor, and we can expect divine judgment in time if we persist in disobedience!”
At this point, it became evidently clear that he had touched a nerve among the congregation! There was a wave of discomfort that swelled among the people, and it showed as they shifted themselves on the pews. It was clear to him that this congregation had not heard a Preacher talk like this for years and because of it, his words were discomforting more than a few! But to please them would be to dishonor God and today, he would either be known as a man pleaser or a God pleaser! He was aware that the church had been fed lies for years and had become so compromised with liberal theological teachings that were corrosive in nature, that the battle to regain their hearts for God would be an uphill one! And the battle had just begun.