“Therefore come out from them, and be separate,” says the Lord, “touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you” (2 Corinthians 6:17).
When the Mall of America opened up in Minneapolis in 1992, it was the largest fully enclosed retail and entertainment complex on earth. It had enough floor space to fill eighty-eight football fields. It employed twice as many people as the city of Minneapolis. It anticipated nine times as many visitors as the population of Minnesota.
But the strangest feature of the Mall of America was a church that began to meet in the rotunda between Bloomindales and Sears. “A Sunday Mallelujah!” exclaimed the Minneapolis Star Tribune, as six thousand worshiper flocked to the opening worship service. The association of the mega mall and this mega church was exactly what church leaders had in mind. This was a cathedral of consumption, a media-savvy fellowship that saw potential adherents as consumers, apt to choose one mall over the other on the basis of glitz and glamour.
Is there something wrong with the location? Not really.
The problem is not the presence of a church in the mall, but the presence of the mall in the church.
When Jesus stated that his followers should be “in the world but not of the world,” he expressed this very dilemma. Geographically, we live in the world, side by side with colleagues at work and in a community. Philosophically, we are not of the world. We are urged to “be separate,” to “come out of the world,” to “touch no unclean thing.”
How can we do this? The battle begins with our thinking. The world wishes to sweep us away in its deluge of chatter. Television, secular universities, and conversations all express a worldly point of view. We must counteract this by searching out God’s point of view.
The danger lies in the way churches often confuse the two. If the church cannot distinguish between a “thus saith the Lord” and a “gospel” of greed and materialism, then who will? It begins when our thinking is “transformed” by the “renewing of our minds” (Romans 12:1,2). We need to think “Christianly,” biblically. We’re always talking about changing our worship. Perhaps it’s time instead to change the worshipers!
This Sunday, come ready, not to change the church, but yourself!
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