John W. Cowart
The members of almost every thriving church face an impending moral crisis: I refer to the presence of go-go girls in the church.
The activities of these women undermine the structure of the traditional Christian family. Their attitudes and actions sometimes cloud gospel issues to the extent that unbelievers openly scoff.
There are many otherwise good men who actually refuse to attend worship services because of their distain over the actions of go-go girls in the church. Of course, these men stand responsible before God for their own behavior since no outside party can keep any man from God, but it is tragic that such men find this convenient excuse so readily at hand.
An additional shame is that some Christian leaders, who ought to know better, actually encourage the go-go girls’ behavior!
Recently NBC television aired an interview with a beautiful young woman who was billed as a “stripper for God”. Apparently this lovely girl is a striptease artist in New York who uses a large portion of her earnings go support the work of her church. According to the interview, she feels that since God blessed her with a beautiful body and with skill as a dancer, she wants to express her devotion by investing her talent in His service.
She believes she is serving the Lord.
Although I wonder about the rationale underlying her philosophy, she does not represent the kind of go-girl whose behavior I find so dismaying.
The go-go girl I’m concerned about, whose lifestyle damages both her own happiness and the welfare of the church, is a different sort of woman. She is often viewed by outsiders as a prime example of Christian womanhood. She appears to be a demure person with a horror of anything tainted by worldliness. But she displays one insidious fault – she goes.
On Monday night she goes to choir practice. On Tuesday night she goes to Ladies Missionary Fellowship. On Wednesday night she goes to prayer meeting. On Thursday she goes to her teacher training class. On Friday she goes to a charismatic renewal meeting, and on Saturday she gets ready to go to church on Sunday – TWICE!
She is a Christian go-go girl.
Go-goism is not confined to women: go-goism also plagues men.
In addition to the many of the same things Christian women go to, Christian men also go-go to businessmen’s prayer breakfasts, consistory meetings, and meetings held for the sole purpose of electing representatives to go to still other meetings!
Why are we Christians such fanatic go-go-ers?
Why are there some Christian families who seldom sit down to eat at the same table because one – or several – of their number feels compelled to attend some church meeting?
Is this continual swirl of church activity necessary?
Is the Lord God, who created the universe, in such desperate straits that those of us who swear allegiance to Him must “go” ourselves to a frazzle in order to keep Him enthroned?
God grants us the privilege of serving Him, but He is not dependent on our service. Were He hard pressed for servants, “God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham” (Luke 3:8).
We – like the young woman on television – say that we are serving the Lord. But, if all our constant go-going is not necessary to God’s well-being, then why do we flit from meeting to meeting? Could it be that our go-go activities serve some purpose other than God’s?
Few hunters are so unsporting as to shoot ducks in a wildlife refuge; in fact, we call these refuges bird sanctuaries. Could it be that we Christians flock to our own sanctuaries to avoid the risk of contact with the dangerous world outside?
Instead of obeying our Lord’s command to go into all the world, we flutter around inside our Christian sanctuaries squawking with those of a feather. Unless some absolutely necessary business (or appealing amusement) diverts us, we migrate back and forth from our homes to our sanctuary hardly touching the ground between the two places.
Thus we use our church meeting for defense.
In the story of the Good Samaritan, it is not unlikely that the priest and the Levite who “passed by on the other side” while on the road to Jerusalem were on their way to (or from) some religious meeting. Although they were both servants of God, neither one stopped to help the wounded robbery victim.
Like them, we also go to church meetings to escape clear-cut, God-given responsibilities.
For us it is easier to attend a meeting with believers sympathetic to our Christianity than to say home trying to communicate love to a grumpy, unregenerate spouse whom we have sworn before God and witnesses to love “until death do us part”.
We dump our children in a church nursery while we titillate our ears with a visiting gospel singing group rather than take the trouble to sing lullabies to our own visitors loaned to us by God.
We even avoid our personal devotions by go-going. If we were to spend as many hours in private prayer as we do in public meetings, we would be living saints in our homes and businesses.
It is nothing new to use seemingly religious activities to sidestep God-appointed responsibilities. Cain is not the only person to offer God an onion instead of a lamb.
In New Testament times, in order to avoid bothering with their mothers and fathers, some people offered a gift of money to the temple declaring that they had given to God the sum which would have gone to support their aging parents. After His scathing denunciation of this practice, Jesus observed, “And many such things you do” (Mark 7:5-13).
After Jesus cast the legion of demons into the herd of pigs which rushed over the cliff to be drowned in the sea, the healed demoniac pleaded to be allowed to stay among the disciples. Jesus, however, insisted that he return home to his friends and family to tell them what great things God had done for him (Mark 5:1-20).
It is not unusual for Jesus to send home the people whose lives He touched. But, like the former demoniac, we are also tempted to restrict our testimony to a circle of sympathetic fellow-believers rather than go home displaying a transformed life to our own family and friends – who still think we are exasperating enough to drive a herd of pigs stark raving crazy.
There are times when everyday duties supersede in eternal value any religious meeting you could possibly attend. You may do more to win a lost soul by chatting over the fence with your heathen neighbor than you could by attending a soul-winning symposium.
Christian go-goism avoids direct God-given duties.
If you don’t like housework anyway, then leaving dirty dishes in the kitchen basin for a chance to go hear a missionary just returned from the Amazon Basin may represent a temptation rather than an opportunity.
Not only do we go to meetings to hide from the world and to shirk responsibilities, but we also use our church activities to avoid God Himself. When Adam sinned and realized that God was looking for him, he hid in the bushes of the very garden God had planted.
Everyone feels an impulse drawing him toward the holy presence of his Creator. We know that He is seeking us, but the awesome presence of God makes us feel uncomfortable. We openly acknowledge that is a good and proper thing to worship, love and adore the High and Lofty One Who Inhabits Eternity; yet we are reluctant to do so because we realize the before Him we are naked, stripped of our masks and pretensions. It would be unseemly for us to ignore the divine wooing, so we make vague religious gestures in the general direction of the Godhead while skirting the issue of what He really desires.
Like the secretary who sharpens pencils to avoid doing the filing, or the boy who fiddles with the lawnmower’s carburetor when he should be cutting the grass, we “serve” God with scurrying activity, busy-work designed to fool Him into thinking that we are devoted to Him.
We avoid God by making motions of obedience while hardly noticing the Son of God who is even now offering us the prospect of intimacy with the living God. We content ourselves by doing almost – but not quite – what God wants, and we are offended when we read a hint that He who desires obedience more than sacrifice is not delighted with our subterfuge.
Do these observations indicate that we should abolish the prayer meeting, silence the choir, lock the church doors and forsake the assembling of ourselves together?
However, we must rediscover some of God’s purposes in allowing us to meet together, remembering that our Lord promised, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20).
Purpose distinguishes the truly Christian gathering from just another go-go meeting. “And let us consider how to stir one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another” (Heb. 10:24-25).
One of the primary purposes for a Christian gathering is to stir up the assembled members of the body. Our gathering should arouse in us a deeper love for God and our brothers, and it should stimulate us to specific good works.
Acts 2: 41-47 indicates other purposes for Christian assembly: “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers”.
If any given meeting has some lesser purpose, then it is not a Christian meeting.
In an essay in his book, That Incredible Christian, Dr. A.W. Tozer writes:
If the many activities engaged in by the average church let to the salvation of sinners or to the perfecting of believers, they would justify themselves easily and triumphantly; but they do not.
My observations have led me to the belief that many, perhaps most, of the activities engaged in the average church do not contribute in any way to the accomplishing of the true work of Christ on earth.
I hope I’m wrong, but I’m afraid I am right.
Our religious activities should be ordered in such a way as to leave plenty of time for the cultivation of the fruits of solitude and silence.
How can you determine which meetings you should attend of the many offered on a full church calendar?
Would it hurt you to stop doing something which does not help you?
It might be helpful to ask yourself these questions: Am I using this meeting as an excuse to avoid anything or anyone? Does this meeting interfere with my clear-cut Christian duty elsewhere?
The most important question you can ask in relation to this matter is: Lord, what will You have me do – spend time alone with You, with my family, or at tonight’s meeting.
Go-goism indicates a restless heart not at peace with God, man, or self. When you are tempted to go-go-go, remember how Jesus once invited His disciples saying, “Come away by yourselves to a lonely place” (Mark 6:31).
The Scripture tells us that he said this because, “Many were coming and going”.
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